It’s 2012 and the nation still hasn’t had enough of Odd Future. Their cultish fans will make it seem like Odd Future is the best thing to happen to
hip-hop music life since the birth of Kanye West, but music critics have mixed reception of the potty-mouthed hardcore hip-hoppers. Either way, by the looks of things, the crew doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Nope, this year seems to kick off with an all out assault from the crew as the first release on Odd Future’s label, Purple Naked Ladies by The Internet (Syd Tha Kidd and Matt Martians) released a mere two months ago, and now in March we’re granted The OF Tape, Vol 2, which is the first collaborative album they’ve done in four years.
Since the release of the first OF Tape, we’ve seen each member spark off different side projects and create solo albums for themselves, though Tyler, The Creator, The Internet, and MellowHype (Hodgy Beats and Left Brain) are the only artists to have physical releases. And even with all the hype following the crew, each month a new member of Odd Future seems to pop onto another song for a guest verse or drop a mixtape/single to prove to hip-hop that they are all indeed growing up and on their way to perfecting their craft. Well, for the most part…
The production on the entire album is about half Left Brain and half Tyler, the Creator, with the overall tape having a slightly different feel to the usual OF style. Tyler still uses his signature eerie sounds and piano loops, but Left Brain seems to have more of an electro feel on tracks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold up as well as most all of Tyler’s beats, as shown on the Left Brain produced “Hcad,” and lazy clashing on “Snow White,” though I do admit some of the poorer beats are a bit charming. Tyler’s production has a newer and slightly more rugged feel, as if he studied a slew of 90′s hardcore hip-hop albums from artists like Redman and Wu-Tang Clan and laced them into his own instrumentals. The entire tape is synth heavy, of course, so it does give off the definite Odd Future signature feel. This is perhaps the most polished mastering and recording I’ve heard from any Odd Future release prior.
As I’ve stated before, every member within the last couple of years has had time to polish their rap skills. Domo Genesis has proved himself to be one of the most promising members of the group as of late, shining on tracks like “Rella,” and his hard hitting solo track “Doms.” Hodgy Beats, featured on more than half of the 18-track album, spits raps more vicious and rough than ever before, though he does miss on some bars throughout the album (“If I was a dinosaur, I would be a flexasarus”). Tyler shows more of what Goblin had to offer, being the voice of the 90′s generation who were raised off of Eminem albums. Frank Ocean’s solo track, “White,” is one of the best tracks the OF Tape, Vol. 2 has to offer and The Internet’s track, “Ya Know,” proves a worthy N.E.R.D. impression.
Even if the good does outweigh the bad on this album, several verses and instrumentals don’t really work well with the album. Some of Left Brain’s production isn’t on-par with the verses rapped over them, and vice versa. Mike G also doesn’t get his time to floss at all, given only two verses on the entire album and one solo song that doesn’t do him any justice.
The best and final track on the album, “Oldie,” is a statement to fans of Odd Future and everyone in hip-hop today. The 10 minute posse cut has every member of Odd Future spitting a hard verse over a thumping 90′s influenced beat, displaying their place in hip-hop today and showcasing the entire group’s talent as a whole, shoving them into hip-hop history as one of rap’s most predominate groups. Long missed member, Earl Sweatshirt, spits a couple of verses with a very intricate flow, longer than anyone else on the cut, but definitely appeared as a pleasant surprise for fans of the crew and rap critics everywhere.
Honestly, this is probably the best effort I’ve seen from most of the crew, showing major promise in 2012 for the rest of the crew and even more signs of maturity from most of the rappers. While there are some misses on the album, I do feel the collective have grown up as rappers and are ready to be taken more serious in the hip-hop industry, even if their immaturity and sometimes mundane beats or verses might damage the crew on occasion. The charming efforts of the rap collective leave listeners on a positive note, even if some faults are present.
Written by Kevin Cortez
Illustrations by Estevan Sanchez