Live Review: Otiuh bring funk and heat to a frosty night at Jack Rabbit Slims
A hip-hop duo comprised of childhood pals (Cesare Papa and Jahmeil Baker), Otiuh recently completed their first national tour at Jack Rabbit Slims in celebration of their first EP, Cold Recreation.
An odd choice to have the word “cold” in the title of their debut EP, though I’m sure there’s some reason or other for it. It’s just that based off this first impression, Otiuh positively sizzled and vibrated with pulse-pounding energy. Every song they performed, from “Me and You” to “500 Flights”, was played with the sort of colourful brashness reserved for a much bigger band’s last song of the night. It’s quite the impressive feat Otiuh has pulled off here, summoning the atmosphere of an amiable summer night within that chilly venue.
A huge part of their appeal, aside from their braggadocio lyrics that sound playful instead of witlessly arrogant - “One early morning I ride in a Mercedes / my only friend has been a cigarette lately” - is the crackling synergy between Papa and Baker. They trade rhymes and lyrics with the ease of twins completing each other’s sentences. They invest physical energy into their lyrics and make funny little facial expressions that grant the emotional contours of their songs a certain tangibility. In other words, their movements on the stage aren’t just there because the alternative, shuffling by the mic, would look awkward. This is an invigorating bit of texture I haven’t often been privy to in local live performances, and it certainly kept their magnetic energy flowing. That being said, they often sound too close to Childish Gambino’s specifically bouncy cadence to feel entirely original. This is to be expected, though, from a young duo who boldly wear their influences on their sleeves and are still wading through the murky terrain of carving out their distinct sound. If their charismatic performance at Jack Rabbit Slims is anything to go by, they’ll get there soon enough.
banner image by Isadora Jarosek