Oddisee teams up with Melbourne streetwear brand LOWF: ‘There’s no separation between art and commerce’

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Oddisee teams up with Melbourne streetwear brand LOWF: ‘There’s no separation between art and commerce’

Words by Jess Magtalas

Brooklyn-based rapper Oddisee and apparel brand LOWF have come together to unpack dedication to craft and staying true to yourself no matter what.

“I think all of us, just as people, our backgrounds shape us – it’s the sum of what we are and I’m no exception to that.”

In the heart of Brooklyn, New York, where hip-hop continues to pulse, Oddisee remains a figure of authenticity and purpose. His creative pursuit is rooted in honouring his diverse heritage and forging meaningful ties within his community.

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Visiting Australia and New Zealand as part of his sprawling world tour, the artist linked up with Melbourne’s own premium streetwear brand LOWF to discuss their shared values of authenticity and creating with purpose. 

What evolved from a hobby into an obsession saw the rapper and producer embarking into a career intertwined within the elements of hip-hop, jazz, funk and go-go, following the footsteps of musicians like A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. His outlook on the human condition and political approach on life, partnered closely with his sound to create thought-provoking pieces for all ears to listen to.

“I would spend a lot of time in my cousin’s bedroom when we’d go visit, just listening to records and I fell in love with the genre at a very young age. Then I started to collect music myself and as most school kids do, you take a crack at it. And I remember freestyling with my friends at lunch tables,” he tells the team at LOWF.


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Born Amir Mohamed el Khalifa in Washington D.C. to a Sudanese father and African-American mother, his enriched culture shaped who he is today. “Having that duality at home was definitely a fundamental part of who I am – speaking two languages, having two different sets of comfort foods and two different religions in my household…I reaped the benefits of both sides musically, culturally, exposure, everything,” he says.

Community has always been at the forefront of his endeavours, which aligns deeply with the LOWF philosophy, making for the perfect symbiotic partnership.

The brand is dedicated to bringing like-minded people together and creating connections that are made to last, just like their garments, crafted primarily from organic and sustainable materials. LOWF prides itself on creating apparel that is good for the planet and for the customer – from the manufacturer to the buyer, LOWF sees its people as one big family.

‘Breaking Bread’, a metaphor held closely to the ethos of LOWF’s philosophy, stands as a pillar to build ties to relationships. When the team asks what that means to Oddisee, he extends the relevance of it to his Sudanese ancestry, tying it up in one word ‘twanas’, which is simply to sit and chat amongst the people.

“Breaking bread means camaraderie. It means that you’re ready to take that next step in a relationship, regardless of what type that is. It says; I trust you and that I want to break bread with you. I want to share with you, I want to share resources with you – something that’s precious to me and my survival. I want to experience it with you,” he tells LOWF, noting that as an introvert and a creature of solitude, he appreciates his people.

Oddisee has never indulged in the late-night New York lifestyle, like the rooftop parties, gigs and shows we tend to hear about. Instead he enjoys the moments between office hours to create and meet people. 

So when COVID-19 struck, the D.C. rapper found himself confined to home, spending more hours there than ever before. During this period, he grappled with self-doubt for the first time, an experience that ultimately inspired his album, To What End.

“[This album] was really about my reasoning for doing what I do. To What End is a different way of saying ‘Why’,” he explains. This project serves as a reflection of his unwavering determination to create music that remains true to himself.

But what does authenticity look like to someone whose conviction is to be intentional?

His commitment extends beyond his music to encompass both his artistic approach and personal style. Drawing inspiration from the look and feel of the D.C. area, his fashion choices pay homage to his neighbourhood, adding another layer of depth to his identity.

For Oddisee, authenticity remains ever-changing, steered by different points in his life and guided by his moral compass. It means, “minding my business. It doesn’t just mean staying out of other people’s affairs. Minding my business is – if this is my lane, don’t jump into somebody else’s and try to be something that I’m not. Just continue to do you,” he says. 

Oddisee wears pieces from LOWF’s latest collection, available online and in select boutiques. Check out LOWF Apparel here and follow the brand on Instagram here.

This article was made in partnership with LOWF.