Okay, hella stoked for this one! Another CDBaby discovery (that site is ill no question), I've been aware of this guy for 8 years or so. It's been a pleasure to start seeing his name pop up on the periphery, and gradually make it's way to the center of things. First he's remixing Restiform Bodies. Then he lands a guest spot on Variex's Milled Pavement debut Braille Dive. Then his name is showing up on tour announcements, he's dropping a phenomenal album on Acid Lab Records (Becoming, check it out!) and putting out Alive EP on one of the gold standards of indie music, Fake Four. Dude is now a major player in the SF music scene, and has opened for acts from Sahtyre all the way to the Epic Beard Men and everything in between.
Not only is OneWerd an incredibly hard working (and talented) musician, he's also a nice, humble dude. His music is positive, fun and especially creative, he can go from dropping rhymes over drum and bass influenced beats to producing soulful guitar driven melodies with ease. Then he's out of the studio and teaching middle school to survive the Bay Area grind. And Timeless is all about that grind, how do we live our own definition of a successful life when our time on this earth is finite and filled with obligations and work? Very few of us are where we want to be, but what holds us back?
The album opens with a reflection on the feeling of lost opportunities, trying to catch up to your peers and excel on your own terms. Something most everyone understands. OneWerd's music has often touched on the power of belief to achieve one’s goals, and his message is one of determination and optimism. He believes in putting in the time and energy with patience and being rewarded, and through his personal journey he wants to share this with us.
OneWerd sings during the melodic chorus of "Open Up My Eyes" "it's difficult accepting lessons that you're never not there, open up my eyes", which brings to the forefront OneWerd's roots in faith. While it's not mentioned as prominently on some of his newer releases, Werd definitely relies on his belief in everyday life and it used to pop up a lot in his work. One of his earliest albums Basement Futuristik is most definitely Christian rap. I'm not personally a Christian, so his less explicit meditations on faith are a bit more relatable for me, but the way I see it a lot of us like The RZA and not all of us are Five Percenters. Differing perspectives in music are always welcome, and anyone who finds themselves hesitant to listen to an artist solely over issues of faith just stands to miss out, in my humble opinion. That said this album, while spiritual, doesn't really drop any names which should make it more palatable for those who find religion a sensitive subject.
The production (which is honestly what I tend to focus on in hip hop as an amateur musician) is where I believe OneWerd really sets himself apart. This album is entirely self produced in every sense of the word, he mixed it himself and it sounds very crisp and professional. He does have a signature style (electronic, though not without clear rock roots) but he always manages to take it places that are new and interesting, some of my personal favorite beats of his are the ones where he plays the acoustic guitar with dubstep style synths and drums to back it up, producing a sound that is his own (such as on the album closer “No Stone Unturned"). I'm confident I could identify his work alongside other producers, and I respect that. Even in indie music styles are becoming more and more homogeneous, to my dismay.
Guest spots are sparse with Timeless being a more personal venture for Werd, however his delivery has evolved to the point that he can and does rap at most speeds and sings very well which keeps his vocal work interesting. The artists who are featured should be very familiar to you all, with Eligh of Living Legends rapping about living clean on "Nothing to Stand On", and Scarub of the same coming with a tongue twisting mediation on the grind over the bluesy acoustic guitar driven beat of "No Road Home". For those who like to experience the interplay of styles that's one of the great pleasures of rap, his compilation style album The Faculty Pt. 2 is a good look at his music alongside some surprising guest rappers (Bakus of Learning Curve, Myka 9, Brzowski etc.)
From tuning into his Indiegogo I get the impression that this album is both a labor of love and a masterpiece for OneWerd. Every track is good, and I think it would serve as a perfect introduction to any new listeners and would really drive home to older fans how seriously he takes his craft. There's been growth on everything he's ever done, and it's been a pleasure to watch it happen. Speaking of watching, check out the music video below for "Walk Into the Ocean", a beautiful look at the best parts of the SF Bay over a standout track from the album.
OneWerd is here to stay, don't miss out on something that will have you nodding your head while improving your mood and maybe giving you hope when you need it. Get your digital copy of Timeless here with physical merch available soon at the same location!