Photo by Isnine Photography
Noah-O, Stalley, Yankee and members of the crew will perform at the Broadberry for two nights on Aug. 8 and 9.
Noah Oddo, aka Noah-O, went national a few years ago when the video for his song “I Got It” won airplay on MTV. Since then, the Henrico-based hip-hop artist and producer has been fostering area talent through his Charged Up Entertainment company, while working on his latest disc, Monument Avenue. Peppered with appearances from fellow River City hip-hoppers, Oddo’s 14-song collaboration with producer Taylor Whitelow is an ambitious sonic travelogue through life in the Richmond he knows, with live instrumentation, creative arrangements and unflinching wordplay about single mothers, subtle racism and the power of music.
RM: What got you started?
Noah-O: I grew up in San Francisco, and, as a kid, I was always listening to hip-hop. It’s like a bug, and I caught it. I was always writing little poems. Luckily, I had a mother that encouraged me to stay in the arts and stay out of trouble. She recognized that it was a creative outlet for me.
RM: Talk about the late Kleph Dollaz (Darrell K. Durant of Petersburg), one of your musical mentors. You pay tribute to him on a new song called “Kleph Note.”
Noah-O: He took me under his wing. He started working with me and helped me to develop a sound, and we developed a friendship. I looked up to him and consider him a pioneer in Virginia … he was one of the first Virginia hip-hop artists to get signed to a major label [as part of III Biskits].
RM: Richmond has had issues with booking hip-hop shows in the past. Have you had to deal with any censorship?
Noah-O: It depends on the venue, but I haven’t had much pushback overall. I wanted to do something at First Fridays, and a couple of those places didn’t want it. But the problems in the past have been with nightclubs that play [recorded] hip-hop, not the actual live shows in venues.
RM: Talk about Monument Avenue.
Noah-O: The album is a reflection of who I am, not only as an artist, but as a person. I approached it like this: If I never get to make any more music, I’m going to say everything I want to say right now. And the sound is more traditional hip-hop, but it’s layered with samples and live instrumentation. A lot of today’s hip-hop sounds the same. But with this album, [Taylor and I] wanted a bigger sound, one that shows the full range of what hip-hop can be musically as opposed to just the same old beats.