As someone who has gone to college for the past four years in the Philadelphia area, I’m always keeping an eye out for up-and-coming local acts looking to add to the City of Brotherly Love’s hip-hop scene. A little less than a year ago, I came across Moosh and Twist, at the time two 17-year-olds who collectively made up the duo OCD and had just released their first mixtape, “Up Before the World.” With a handful of catchy songs, witty lyrics, and sample driven beats, the release was a quality effort despite the few lyrical shortcomings one would normally expect from a hip-hop album coming from a couple of high-school kids. It was apparent that Moosh and Twist weren’t at all intimidated by their lack of experience in the hip-hop game, and their rhymes, while not the most complex, carried the energy and excitement necessary to ensure an enjoyable listen. Since then, I’ve periodically checked back to the group’s website to listen to some of their new material, and given that the two now high-school graduates have recently put their studies to the side to focus exclusively on music, I figured it was an appropriate time to review their latest mixtape, “The Vestibule,” released in January of 2012.
In less than a year, OCD has certainly come a long way in terms of their exposure and fan base. While they are still known best in the greater Philadelphia area, they’ve gained an impressive following from all over, partly due to their strong social media presence, and continue to build on the popularity of some of their original songs. One of the things that has endeared them the most to fans is their passion for their music, and this is evident from the very beginning of “The Vestibule.” Moosh spits the first verse on the opening song, “It’s All Good,” and his steady but tongue-twisting flow anchors the equally fast-paced track, which features a catchy drumroll, spacy piano keys, and orchestral synths. As I listened to them rap about trying to make it in hip-hop, discussing everything from the Chinatown bus as their “second home” to the percs that come with being recognized locally, I couldn’t help but make the comparison in my mind to Chiddy Bang’s “The Swelly Express” mixtape. In fact, Moosh and Twist at times even sound like Chiddy, with their straightforward, clearly articulated deliveries and rhymes full of clever analogies.
The next track, “Free,” also features a quick-hitting snare, but the drawn out, high-pitched vocal sample and the jazzy synths and piano keys give the track a more mellow sound, as Twist raps:
“They tell me life is short, I’m tryin’ to live it tall
I’m steady wishin’ if I got it, I give it all
Track me down and back me in, find me on a map again
It’s trapped me in but they can never hold me down for really
Nah, its Philly ’til the death of me, tell me that my recipe is Illy
Are these women from Puerto Rico and Chile
They feel me, they try and kill me for these millis that we haven’t made”
Things start to grow repetitive though on “Hold It Down,” which has more of a hardcore vibe thanks to a heavy kick and clap drum pattern, aggressive piano keys, and a driving guitar riff on the chorus. Moosh and Twist seem a little out of place on the gangster-rap influenced instrumental, and while the track is certainly a head-bobber, each emcee’s ability to maintain a steady flow and confident delivery throughout is more impressive than the actual lyricism. Then there’s “Tommy Bundy,” another fast-paced track with a funky electronic synth and a rather annoying cowbell-like snare that are both a little rough on the ears. Once again, while Moosh and Twist never falter in keeping up with the beat, their lyrics lack the depth necessary to warrant considerable replay value, and there isn’t much complexity other than some crafty wordplay thrown in here and there. In other words, to a casual listener looking merely for some heavy beats and a few punch lines scattered throughout, these songs will probably sound just fine, but those looking for deeper lyrics and storytelling will be disappointed.
The mixtape ends on a high note, though, with tracks such as “Street Lights,” which sees Moosh and Twist spin tales of teenage romance, and “Ridin’ Slow,” as the duo closes things out with a catchy chorus and feel-good lyrics over the smooth, gliding synths. As the chorus fades out with Moosh and Twist spitting “Middle fingers in the air, you know we don’t give a what,” the lyrics seem to epitomize OCD’s philosophy in the hip-hop game. Regardless of what any doubters think, they’re going to continue to do what they love, spitting rhymes and making music with an energy passion that is clearly reflected in their songs. “The Vestibule” may not have the most intricate lyrics or beats, but it is still another promising release from the young Philly duo with nowhere to go but up. Hip-hop fans looking for something a little more mature will probably want to steer clear, but those who give Moosh and Twist a chance and accept them for who they are â€“ two fun-loving high-school grads looking to make a name for themselves in the music business â€“ will find “The Vestibule” to be a catchy and overall enjoyable listen.