Review: Ohmega Watts, “Watts Happening”

Ohmega Watts
Watts Happening

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Producer/MC Ohmega Watts collected a slew of props for the upbeat brand of beats and rhymes he showcased on his impressive 2005 solo debut, The Find. While no less fun, his sophomore shot, Watts Happening, is a distinctively more complex release. In fact, Watts reaches in so many sonic directions that at times, it’s hard not to question the lack of consistency. But what does remain constant for Watts here is that he strives to leave a positive impact on listeners with every verse, chorus, and rhythm.

Most notably on the mellow track “Model Citizen,” Watts’ desire to lead by example is undeniable. With this jazz-infused cut, he envisions how much better the world could be if the youth was exposed to less shallow rappers and reality TV shows and more quality time with family. Instead of simply pointing out societal problems he offers real-world tested solutions (his nieces and nephews vouch for his concern on the interlude “Shorty Shouts”). Watts genuinely wants to be seen as being a good, generous guy.

Perhaps it was his generosity that inspired him to put down the mic on numerous tracks, including the Brazilian soul number, “Adaptacao.” Here he lets singer Tita Lima stand in the spotlight with her honey-toned vocals. And the same can be said with the vintage funk track, “Are You Satisfied,” which sounds like it was custom made for the raspy guest vocalist Sugar Pie DeSanto. Even traditional hip-hop cuts such as the headnod-inducing “Roc the Bells,” featuring Watts’ Lightheaded crew, are more about a collective effort to rock the party than attempts at delivering self-serving boasts.

Because Watts Happening is such a selfless album, Watts can tend to take a backseat as an MC. For every lyrical opus like “Model Citizen,” he has a song such as “Adaptacao” where this ambitious act kind of disappears into the background. While he sacrifices himself as a rapper, he simultaneously grows as a well-rounded artist—one who can coolly produce breakbeat-driven hip-hop and samba alike. Even if the transitions between the many styles of these sometimes-divergent songs aren’t always seamless, Ohmega Watts pushes himself as a producer to defy narrow classification. And for that, he deserves credit.

— Max Herman

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