At 20 years old, Drexel student Butch Serianni (aka OddKidOut) has a more impressive musical resume than many artists twice his age. A drummer since age six, Serianni has worked with Grammy-award winning producer David Ivory, soul-singer Jaguar Wright and members of the renowned alternative hip hop group Digable Planets. He assumed the name OddKidOut eight months ago and is releasing his debut EP, “Within,” March 11. Serianni chose to make an “autobiographical” record out of “Within”, chronicling his life thus far. As ambitious as the premise is, the record unabashedly invites the listener into the very personal details of Serianni’s life through textured chords, syncopated beats and a slew of exceptional features.
The opening track, aptly titled “Chapter 1,” begins with Serianni being asked “so it took you twenty years to get there? Are you happy now?” He timidly responds “yeah… yeah I think so…” before a heavy horn section and a saxophone solo introduce the beat. The listener is immediately reminded of the boom bap sound of early 90s hip hop. This is no coincidence. Serianni lists J Dilla, Pete Rock, and 9th Wonder as some of his biggest influences.
While his beats are rooted in golden age hip hop, Serianni uses an eclectic mix of sounds to tell his story. “LonelyMolecules/NegativeBonds” begins with a soundbite of what we can assume to be Serianni’s mother speaking to him when he’s just a few months old. Here, the first of a number of excellent collaborators, Ashley Leone, adds a beautiful verse before the drums come in and Serianni shows his skills as a rapper.
The song ends with another soundbite as an intro to “The Void” in which Serianni receives a call that says “Butch – your father’s in the h-.” “The Void” is centered around a beeping tone reminiscent of an electrocardiogram that reminds the listener of a hospital setting. Serianni says that the slow, spacious track represents a long period in his life during which his father battled cancer.
On “Amore,” singer GoGo Morrow sings relatable lines about wondering whether she is in love or not. Veteran Philadelphia rapper Bonic (of Philly’s Most Wanted) contributes a powerful verse before the song fades out. While the track was loosely based on a personal situation, Serianni says that he wanted it to be relatable to anybody who’s ever had trouble in a relationship.
Another song, “Drowning” is a spacey, ethereal track which provides a sonic buffer between the deep emotions of “Amore” and the conclusion, “Illalogue.” On the final track, the conversation from “Chapter 1” repeats, except this time Serianni confidently responds, “I’m more than happy. I’m grateful, I’m thankful, and I’m moving towards my dreams.” A high-pitched vocal sample, similar to those found in early Kanye West beats, provides the backbone for a fast-paced track featuring rapper Odyssey. Odyssey raps about the success he’s found through rap, the ability to make everything a work of art, and even works in an ode to Philadelphia, complete with a Pat’s & Geno’s reference. The bold, energetic track is a statement that Serianni has found himself in his music as OddKidOut.
The producer and drummer says that the achievements that he has made during his eight months as OddKidOut have surpassed those that he has made in his fourteen years of drumming. “Within” is a powerful debut that clearly demonstrates his creativity and skills as a producer.