1994 would be one of the more fruitful years for Hip Hop. The art form began to become less saturated as artists from all over the country began to garner mainstream exposure. Now make no mistake; ’94 was the year that produced two of finest albums in the genre’s storied history, in Nas‘ Illmatic and Biggie‘s Ready To Die. Both MC’s were NYC to the teeth. However, we also began to see albums from UGK, Scarface, Bone Thugs, and two cats from down south known as OutKast. The culture began to step away from NYC and permeated many less-dense regions, like the midwest, and the deep south. 1994 was the year that solidified Hip Hop’s claim to the mainstream and gave it staying power – not only in from its’ points of origin but to states, cities, and communities that wouldn’t have otherwise known what to make of it.
Enter Omar Credle, a.k.a. O.C. Hailing from Bushwick, Brooklyn. O.C.’s early work included, but were not limited to appearing on Organized Konfusion’s “Fudge Pudge” which can be found on OK’s self-titled record. I always felt like O.C. was brooklyn’s Nas. Both MC’s had very similar styles, and ironically enough, both appeared on MC Search’s “Back to the Grill” remix.
O.C.’s flows were smooth yet demanding; like his contemporaries he rhymed with force but with a slight tinge of everyman persona; things like playing football in the alleyway were common in his storied song/rhyme writing. “Born 2 Live” feels like a Hip Hop ode to Steely Dan’s “Reelin in the Years.” If the instrumental/beat for “Time’s Up” sounds familiar, that’s because it is; it was used in one of the freestyle battles in the movie 8 Mile.
The production duties on this record were handled by Lord Finesse, Buckwild, and Organized Konfusion. One of the aspects of this record that makes me spin it again and again is the production, all three camps’ tracks sound like an early 90’s jazz/new jack style mixed with the more R&B influenced production that would come to fruition later in the 90’s.
O.C. would go on to make a few more records, the only one coming close to Word…would be 1997’s subsequent release Jewelz. While the follow up was a striking record, it failed to deliver the rawness of Word…in favor of a style a tad bit more polished. While still a great record, Word…Life will continue to be O.C.’s crown “Jewel”.