July 4, 2010

Artist of the Day: Omid (Beneath The Surface)

Born in Chicago, living in Iran from age 1 to 7, then moving to Los Angeles right after the Iranian revolution, Omid has seen a lot, and is influenced by it all. Growing up in Los Angeles, Omid got first turned on to Hip Hop by listening to KDAY, L.A.’s first all Hip Hop radio show. Learning early on that rapping or breakdancing was not for him, he did realize he had a fascination with the beats. In junior high, Omid started his first musical experiments, trying to create his own beats by using his only piece of equipment: a tape recorder. Using the record and pause buttons, plus his many tapes of jazz and soul that he taped off of local radio station KXLU, the first Omid beats were born. It wasn’t until freshman year in highschool that he borrowed a simple sampler, the Korg DSS-1, that he was able to make real beats. Though what started as a hobby was soon taken more serious.

Attending an open mic in Los Angeles called the “Goodlife” in the early 1990’s was a pivotal moment in Omid’s life. A safe haven for positive, artistic, and innovative poets and musicians, Omid was inspired to take his bedroom beat experiments more seriously, in order to be part of this thriving music scene. At the “Goodlife,” the artists were encouraged to be cutting edge and innovative, if they didn’t want to get the legendary “Please pass the mic!” reception. Already a scene with great producers, Omid knew right away would make him stand out: his roots. This inspired him to research and collect music from Iran and the Middle East, along with the usual jazz, funk, rock, etc. that is the root of hip hop. One day Omid showed a Goodlife producer named Ebow his music. Ebow liked what he heard and together they released a home-made beat tape that they sold only at the Goodlife, entitled “Beat Stampede.” Soon, Omid’s beats caught the ears of the local talent and the collaborations began.

In 1998, Omid produced “Beneath the Surface,” a 14 song compilation that brought many unknown talents from all over Los Angeles together for one album. This album was also the first official release of many who went on to be L.A. favorites. Omid produced all the songs, tailoring each beat for each dynamic MC, forging collaborations with artists that had never worked together before. Omid originally released the album by himself, and it was re-released in 1999 by Celestial Recordings. Although this album was done strictly for the love, it won Omid critical acclaim in such publications as The New York Times, Spin, and URB. “Beneath the Surface” gave Omid the courage to pursue music as a career full-time. This album was also one of the first, if not the first, to include Persian/Iranian samples in a “hip hop” record.

Since “Beneath the Surface”, Omid has produced 2 solo albums, “Distant Drummer” and “Monolith” (Mush Records), plus collaborated with countless cutting edge artists, such as the Beastie Boys, Aceyalone, Buck 65, Sach, 2mex/OMD, Scarub, Murs, Pigeon John, Slug, and many others. Movie soundtracks have also been a big influence on Omid, so it is not a surprise that his music has blended well with film (Last.fm, 2010).

You can listen to Omid's music at:

Released Albums:
Omid - Distant Drummer
Omid - Monolith
Omid - Beneath the Surface
Omid - Afterwords 2 and 3
Omid - Instrumental Selections From Sach 5th Ave.

(2010). 2) Omid. Last.fm. Retrieved from http://www.last.fm/music/Omid

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