In today’s age, technology has flooded our lives with content. Caught in the mire are modern musicians who champion an art form more widely distributed than any other throughout human history. And we, more often than not, overlook the music created by unfamiliar faces because it’s challenging. We’d rather have an easy listen, a known quantity to skim through while we think about something else.
Hearing is easy, but listening is difficult. Welcome to “Why We Like It,” where we rebuke the trends in favor of thoughtful analysis and underknown sounds.
“Like A Dog” — Otis Mensah
How We Found It
My eyes always light up whenever Sheffield-based emcee Otis Mensah drops a new track into my email inbox. I have covered his work extensively for CentralSauce, including an interview that detailed his thought process behind the first season of #OtisMensahExists, a string of singles he released in 2020. “Like A Dog” is the second entry in the second season of #OtisMensahExists, following “Troglodyte Jazz,” and enlists the help of Berlin native The Intern for the instrumental.
Why We Like It
We experience loss constantly. Not what we typically see as loss, the monumental death of a loved one or an outpouring of grief, but the incremental loss which coincides with our growth and change as people. Mourning all of his previous versions, Otis Mensah wonders if his change of personality has been for the worse on “Like A Dog.”
The intern’s sweet strings are met with soft crooning from Otis, building this wave of nostalgia. Deceivably warm, the track is spiced with Otis’ regret while he laments — as he puts it — the loss of the glow in his face. The sonic harmony of the track was created due to a deep anxiety of straying away from the ‘right’ track. The question ‘am I still a good person?’ looms over the entire three minutes. Otis kicks off the song’s solitary verse saying “tumbled from Jacob’s ladder” invoking a fall from the path to heaven and giving an answer to that aforementioned question — ‘No.’
I find this school of thought difficult to escape myself, chunk by chunk your innocence is lost over years where stress and responsibilities take its place. Things always feel easier through the rear-view. My life philosophy has twisted and turned so much through the years that I often find myself with no idea what I’m supposed to be doing, making evident the fact that there is no ‘correct’ way. This can inspire freedom, much like the flowing instrumental and passionate vocals of “Like A Dog,” or it can bring forth the anxiety which lines the track. I tend to oscillate between the two.
From Otis Mensah
I really appreciate that my love for melody comes through in the music; using my voice as an instrument, playing with different vocal inflections, melodies & harmonies is something that I have been paying more mind to. For me, hip-hop culture has acted as a beautiful portal into various worlds of Black art and music. The heavy presence of sampling in rap music opened a door to realms of sound from past and present that I otherwise may not have had access to, it’s here where I learnt to admire melody. For example, through hip hop, I discovered free jazz and how certain guest vocalists could completely let go of inhibitions to become a vehicle for the aesthetic good of the musical landscape or falling in love with Kid Cudi’s use of melody as a teenager then diving into the pool of experimental sound he sampled from.
My relationship to hip hop has often been about connecting to untapped or suppressed emotional and mental states as both a listener and a creator. So when writing, infusing my words with melody feels natural and a sure way to inject my raw feeling into a song. ‘Like A Dog’ presented itself as an opportunity to experiment and connect to the unaltered sound of emotional hurt and just let it drone out exactly how I felt it in the moment like the howl of a dog.” – Otis Mensah for CentralSauce
More From Otis Mensah
For the full #OtisMensahExists season 2 experience, queue up “Like A Dog” next to “Troglodyte Jazz.” Otis’s EP Rap Poetics is also a healthy project to have in your rotation. Season 2 is far from finished, so make sure you follow Otis on Twitter and Instagram to catch that next release.
More to Discover
Subscribe to the CentralSauce mailing list so you never miss out on the freshest sauce. Check out this continuously updated playlist of songs Ryan has added to our Discovery section! Each track or artist has been featured in our “Why We Like It” section, so be sure to check out the page here on the site.