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Odd Future album features aggressive collaborations

By Billy Lambert
On March 28, 2012

I was at the Odd Future show in New York City the day its mixtape dropped. Unfortunately, due to a catastrophic chain of events that only a mind gone down the deepest caverns of oblivion could fathom, I did not see or remember much of the show.

Therefore, this is as much a cathartic exercise as it is a review for OF's fantastic collaborative album.

The group itself consists of Tyler, the Creator, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Mike G, Syd the Kyd (aka The Internet), recently returned Earl Sweatshirt (yes, his first show ever was the New York one, please stop), producer Left Brain and self-claimed non-rapper hooligans Taco and Jasper. Despite the collective's rapid ascension to vaunted heights such as The MTV Awards, Watch The Throne and Adult Swim, it hasn't brought this level of passion and talent since their days of anonymity.

Take Domo for example. Until this mixtape, he was the perpetually-stoned Pillsbury doughboy form of Wiz Khalifa, offering a sedate contrast to the sardonic verbal rampages of Hodgy and Tyler with the consequence of hardly seeming to be present on those tracks at all. Here though, Domo rips through all seven of his featured tracks with a ferocity which initially renders his flow almost unrecognizable, though trademark lyricisms of the easygoing spitter remain. His sole standalone (and standout) track "Doms" is a great representation of his newfound hybridity: almost beside himself over a "cool Capri Sun" in one line, then forcefully rapping intense lyrics over a murky beat in the next.

The obvious corollary of this is that the trio of Domo, Tyler and Hodgy completely destroy all the beats they rap on together. Their super aggressive collaborations "Rella" and "Hcapd" (the latter even including a shout-out to Waka Flocka Flame) rile your adrenaline like "a soft right hook from kimbo on PCP and cilantro" with their classically grimy beats and darkly hilarious lyricism. Perhaps most significant, however, is that rotating Tyler, the king of clever shock value, out of songs like "Lean" doesn't leave Hodgy and Domo to drown. Though still inferior to Tyler verbally, they've definitely carved out voices strong enough to complement the sick beats they've been gifted with.

Amidst the general carnage of those three, however, gentler artists Frank Ocean and Syd the Kyd find a place to shine. Ocean's "White" paints a beautiful picture of disillusioned love over a minimalist sample which evolves to a flourish, while The Internet's "Ya Know" combines her signature electronica with 80's R&B. The couple's contrasting style from almost the entirety of the album serves to refresh rather than just fill.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to the tape which many will be quick to point out. Mellowhype's "50," for example, is probably only musically viable when paired with the symphony of a hundred broken faces resulting from the rabid moshing of their show. Jasper and Taco will never be musically viable, yet either is included in a total of three songs.

The last of these, however, called "Oldie," is both the best song and essence of the album, combining all the voices of Odd Future in an invigorated group showing which includes the triumphant return of Earl Sweatshirt, the best pure rapper of the group and about as old as kids we won't know until Fall. Despite the hiatus, he claims he is "Scoldin' hot as dunkin' scrotum in a Folgers cup," and I'm not one to doubt such a statement.

At the end of the song, Tyler signs off by goading his critics to "just admit, not only are we talented, we're rad." Happily, this relates the one thing I can tell you about the concert with certainty: the members of Odd Future exist to have fun, to get a building of kids to roar like a colosseum, and should be regarded as such. All that's left is to find some more tickets.

 


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