Red Bull Prodigy - The journey so far - Oddisee and Estere

Sam Wicks / October 28, 2013

“I live in a gentrified part of Brooklyn, I eat out several times a week, I travel the world sampling the best that cities across the globe have to offer. Do I live in a penthouse loft? Am I dinning in five stars restaurants? Can you only find me in the most exclusive areas? Do I own a jet? The answer to all the above is most certainly no. I’m just a regular man from Prince George’s county, Maryland that figured shit out.”

Currently available for pre-order from mellowmusicgroup.com, Tangible Dream, the latest mixtape from Washington D.C.-raised, New York City-based MC and producer Oddisee, is introduced on the website with his own words, a matter-of-fact claim from a musician who prioritises international travel and new musical discoveries over jet-setting visions of luxury living.

Oddisee’s globetrotting mission to seek out fresh sounds and unearth new talent brought him to Auckland in October to collaborate with rising future soul voice, Estere, at Red Bull Studio. Their ten-day studio lock-in marks the return of Red Bull’s Prodigy Project, a musical mentoring initiative that has seen Oddisee help steer Estere’s direction on a brand new set of songs.

Side-by-side with the Wellington vocalist and producer he’s taken under his wing in the studio’s control room, Oddisee says he made a point of coming into the Prodigy Project with no expectations.

The plan of attack was to not have any plan whatsoever,

he admits. “It was important to be as open to collaboration and influence as possible; to know that I have a particular skillset and she has a particular skillset; and when we combine them the result is exactly what the music should be.”

As a one-woman beats’n’pieces operation, Estere is used to producing home alone, with only an MPC sampling station she calls “Lola” to ride shotgun. Estere says that the Prodigy Project has been a chance to tap into Oddisee’s wealth of studio experience and open her and Lola up to a host of new beatmaking possibilities.

“This is a big opportunity for me,” she says. “If you work by yourself, I think you can become a bit precious about your own ideas. It’s been so refreshing to work in an environment where I’m not just alone with my own headspace. Having someone there who’s really skilled to bounce ideas off is priceless.”

Five days into this year’s Prodigy Project, Estere and her D.C. mentor already have four new tracks under their belts, with no plans to slow down before their studio stint comes to an end. Oddisee made a quick exit from their sessions to flex his live skills as an MC and producer at shows in Auckland and Wellington, debuting cuts from his recently released all-instrumental album The Beauty In All and the Tangible Dream mixtape. From there though, it was straight back to Red Bull to fine-tune the newest additions to his and Estere’s songbooks.

“We’ve been moving a mile-a-minute and the first day we worked together already seems like so long ago,” Oddisee reflects. “We’ve just wanted to explore the possibilities of collaboration, be it songwriting, co-production, opinions and advice. We’ve managed to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.”