A Track-By-Track Look Into Ozay Moore’s “Taking L’s”

Taking L's Pic

On May 26th, the incredibly honest and personal MC Ozay Moore (fka Othello) released the album Taking L’s. Produced entirely by 14KT, Taking L’s is an in-depth look into life, where Ozay explains that not all L’s are bad, and that sometimes they’re the best thing that can happen to you given the circumstance. With songs about introspection, love, heartache, growing up, substance abuse, wins and losses, Taking L’s is a ride through hip-hop with depth that keeps on unraveling and truth that seeps through the speakers.

Here, Gus and Dan break down the album track-by-track.

Be sure to peep and buy the album either digitally or June 9th during the official label release. Click here to purchase the album!

1. “Pillow Thoughts”
The opening track, “Pillow Thoughts,” finds Ozay at a level of reflection and vulnerability that can be rare for the often braggadocious mentality of hip-hop. The power of “Pillow Thoughts” is the feeling that Ozay and KT are able to create. You know that feeling when you finally lay down after a long day of work and just start thinking? If you do, then this song will speak directly to you. In one well soft-spoken and insightful verse, Ozay talks about his family, being there for his kids and the grind of working a 9-5 job. From there, 14KT demonstrates his production skills as he breaks it down, creating a dream-like sequence that fits perfectly with the theme of this track. -Gus

2. “Bloom”
Ozay declares on the hook, “And this here’s for you/ I see how much you’re tryna do/ Cause you can get girl, go head and get it homie/ Keep movin’ and grow, bloom.” This track is about growing, working towards a goal and ultimately getting better at something over time. Using his own experiences of improving as an MC to speak on this topic, Ozay lays it down: “Been workin at the live show for years now/ Studyin’ the greats, tryna take from what they did.” To me this track is inspirational and empowering because Ozay is sharing a side of himself that isn’t always addressed in hip-hop. Typically, MCs only boast about their skills as opposed to talk about how hard they worked at their craft. This track reminds us to stay passionate about what you love and stay on your grind. -Gus

3. “Bang”
What a fitting title. That’s all I really have to say. Coming in hot with, ahem, a bang is Ozay’s quick-hitting lyrical slabs and 14KT’s fast and ferocious production. If you need a quick check to your rib, don’t drown yourself in caffeine or sugar, just listen to this track and you’ll be good for the day. -Dan

4. “Slingshot (feat. Vursatyl and Chip-Fu)”
I think 14KT’s work has long surpassed the point an artist must reach to achieve universal acclaim, and yet, he still deserves more recognition. His work with Athletic Mic League and his solo record Nickel & Dimed are a look into his craft, and they further showcase his excellence. “Slingshot” is another look into the diverse sounds behind his production. The beginning spills like an old Black Keys demo, and then comes in the breakbeat and lead, setting the whole song in motion. The mixing organ keys and buzzing swells help project this song’s diverse range, and in turn it feels fresh and exciting. There’s a twinge of Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” in here, and that is in no way bad. -Dan

5. “Record Store Day (feat. 14KT)”
You know that Ozay and 14KT are well versed in the history of the music industry if they include a song like “Record Store Day.” This track pays homage to physically purchasing music from a store after a solid day of crate digging. First, Ozay describes himself as a young kid, working a paper route, saving money to buy his first record. He also speaks on how the digital age has impacted how we consume music and how it has changed the business of the independently owned record stores. “Am I the last in the world without an Ipod?/ I guess I gotta get with it but the times change quicker than the pace I’m used to keepin’/ Man, I still enjoy diggin’/ Sparkin’ conversations at the mom and pop shops about releases.” Following his verse, Ohmega Watts shares a powerful anecdote about purchasing a record and what that feels like. Get in your car, turn this up, drive to your nearest record store and buy some music. -Gus

6. “Together Alone”
When you are with the person you love, its almost as if nobody is around, even if you’re out in public. When you’re with that person, it does feel as if you’re together alone. “Together Alone” isn’t about exploiting women’s bodies and hyper-masculinity. Instead, it is a refreshing description of romance and being with the person that you love. What’s most inspiring about this song is that Ozay’s lyrics are clearly based on his experiences but could be applied to fit someone else’s story as well. “And we the perfect combo/ Just like left, right, one, two.” -Gus

7. “PSA (feat. Jamall Bufford)”
“See some folks lead,” Ozay declares. “Others folks follow. Some folks grieve, other folks don’t bother. But I’m positive there’s something to be said for the common pushing a little harder to grow.” “PSA” marks a point where Ozay Moore justly tells us that we should be who we are and grow together universally. The term “building” is big here, as Ozay echoes resonating thoughts about community power and the precious gift each individual presents to the table. With a feature from fellow Michigander and hip-hop icon Jamall Bufford, “PSA” bangs with precision and also teaches us the ways of community building. -Dan

8. “The Fix”
“The Fix” begins with a sample of a woman confessing to heroin use and how it affected her. By the minute mark the track gets off, and Ozay unravels bars about addiction, substance abuse, distractions and the fix. Ushering in the notion that drugs and pitfalls surround us all, “The Fix” is just as much a song about avoiding these specific “L’s” as it is anti-drug in itself. “You can try to find a way but it will pull you down.” -Dan

9. “After The Cool (feat. LO5, Promise, Theory Hazit)”
What is coolness and how do we as a society determine what it even looks like? There is so much emphasis on what is trending and popular, but what happens when we move on from these things? These questions are what drive “After The Cool,” the opening track of the incredibly honest and introspective Taking L’s. Over the expertly placed hand drums, synths swoops and claps of 14KT, Ozay sets the tone for an album that is about change and how life is as challenging as it is rewarding. -Gus

10. “Glitch (feat. Magestik Legend)”
Throughout history, the forward march of technology has been incredible and unstoppable. For example, the ways in which we receive, process and share information is drastically different than it was even five years ago. It’s as common to have a lengthy conversation via text message as it is to speak with somebody on the phone. This track accurately speaks to the way in which technology has changed and how people communicate. It’s not necessarily a negative, but I’m not convinced that seeing everyone silently staring down at their smart phones is a positive. 14KT’s production is on point, feeling purposefully disjointed and robotic, providing the necessary musical backdrop to speak on technology and the ways it has changed. -Gus

11. “Top Spillin”
The beginning of “Top Spillin” stops and stutters, cutting in and out like 14KT is churning wax behind the decks. In comes Ozay’s lines, and soon “Top Spillin” acts like one huge communal anthem. The hook here is the running motor that boosts this track, but the verses are sincere as the nitty gritty details that are necessary in order to understand the growth Ozay has experienced not only as an MC but also a human being. In order to get to the overall celebration (the hook), one must have a story to tell (the verse). “Top Spillin” is the perfect example of that notion. -Dan

12. “Insufficient Funs (feat. Monica Blaire)”
At eight minutes and eighteen seconds, “Insufficient Funs” is the longest track on Taking L’s. Swaying effortlessly under the spell of dreamy jazz horns, stern percussion and beautiful backing vocals, “Insufficient Funs” is the opus of this album. Like many tracks on Taking L’s, “Insufficient Funs” lets us into Ozay’s mind, exploring his reasoning for constructing an album of such magnitude. Almost as a testament to Ozay’s history throughout the years, and where he landed in his life, this song may be the defining crown of “taking W’s from L’s.” “If in fact I lay it all on the line for a moment of pleasure, I know I’ll never be fine, so I’m finding my measure to be content with who I’ve become: changed.” -Dan

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2 thoughts on “A Track-By-Track Look Into Ozay Moore’s “Taking L’s”

  1. ozay Moore says:

    Spot on fellas. Great insight

  2. […] na społeczeństwo i obserwowanych ludzi, stąd na albumie przeważają utwory refleksyjne. „Taking L’s” ukazuje, iż porażki nie zawsze są złe, a czasem nawet należy spojrzeć na nie jako warunek […]

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