As with every Oddisee record, The Iceberg adheres to a high concept; in this case he's taking aim at the tendency to accept surface-level information and forget about underlying complexities. Much to his credit, and possibly disdain, the entire album can be enjoyed for its musicality alone; his production skills are on point as always, if a little less organic and broader-sounding than the more overtly jazz-leaning Odd Tape. However, much like an actual iceberg, the album's true mass lies in the underlying message, which Oddisee actively encourages the listener to consider -- see opening track "Digging Deep" -- and ultimately invest in for greater reward. Both approaches to The Iceberg seem appropriate by design; Oddisee's keen ear for both vocal and melodic hooks becomes something of a test, a challenge even, to divide those who critically analyze and those who just want to hear a good beat. With a surface that sounds this smooth and soulful, it's easy to imagine casual listeners -- particularly those who aren't aware of Oddisee's worldview -- accepting it at face value. This is no more exemplified than by second track "Things," with its uplifting tempo and catchy chorus belying the lyrical plea to remember that we all have relative problems to deal with.
Oddisee has always had a reputation for personal honesty, and even though this album finds him tackling many prevalent issues (Islamophobia, police brutality, Donald Trump), every message is conveyed from that same personal perspective. This isn't Oddisee making the issues all about himself, though; if anything, the opposite is true, as he openly muses about the limitation of perspective with "If I was last in line I'd probably be the first to whine." Lending to that singular vision is the relative lack of collaborations, the prevalence of which has become something of a trope in hip-hop. Instead, Oddisee's all-round strengths as producer, mixer, and lyricist make for a more cohesive record, allowing for his personality and message to shine that much brighter. As a side effect, this gives the two present collaborators, Toine and Olivier St. Luis, greater emphasis, making them symbiotic to the overall vibe of The Iceberg. Despite the potential for broader appeal, it's something that Oddisee has never been that interested in; for a start, he defines success based on his own terms (an attitude that by all means is the right one to adopt). The result is a finely crafted niche that allows for Oddisee to sound off on his personal perspective, have all the creative freedom he could desire, and make a decent living in the process. Whether you're along for the ride based on aesthetics alone, or because of a deep relation to the lyrics, with The Iceberg everybody wins. In reality, however, Oddisee's point remains: we need to stop reacting to surface-level events and start analyzing the causes instead; it's the only way things will change. ~ Liam Martin