Review: The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2
Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All, 2012
Despite how familiar they are in the circles I run in, Odd Future (better known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All or OFWGKTA) are fairly unknown to the mainstream, laughing in the face of the excessive amount of news coverage spent on them. And why should they be? To be into Odd Future requires an encyclopedia to understand the group. A mixture of rappers, singers and producers, Odd Future is an alternative hip-hop collective made up of young, young musical talents – so young that even I‘m older than some of them. The group has too much going on, too many sub-groups within the Odd Future umbrella and too many members to follow with any kind of regular understanding. And the press and media must know this, and Odd Future themselves must know this, because both parties seem content pigeonholing OFWGKTA into the homophobic, trouble making poster children (and I mean children) of hip-hop. Family value associations and gay rights associations eat the group up with a spoon, labeling them as horrorcore, violent and bigoted punks.
That’s the background on Odd Future in a nut shell. They climbed out of nowhere in the internet mixtape age and built a reputation though negative press. Despite it all though, Tyler the Creator and the other notable members of the crew are all still pumping out tons of content. While the group is perhaps a one-trick-pony flash in the pan, their music is still one of the most interesting things coming out of a mainstream-heavy hip-hop industry. This all leads us to The Odd Future Tape Volume 2, the second compilation with contributions from every member of the group. By toning down the radical extremism of their music and getting back to the core of their crew creativity, Odd Future have created a fairly enjoyable mix, showcasing every members unique talents.
It makes sense given all the history then that Volume 2 opens with a track entitled “Hi” in which friend of the crew L-Boy simply slanders every member of the rap collective. Rather than slandering the LGBT community or popping rape jokes, Odd Future seem to – in one and a half minutes – acknowledge that this is a song, and just like other songs it’s meant to be taken as such. Politics aside, the radical nature of the group is what has made them such polarizing figures in the industry so quickly. “Hi” seems to diffuse that and remind as that these are just dumbass kids making music the way they want to make music.
With 18 (actually 19) tracks, Volume 2 perfectly distributes verses and tracks to each member of the group, placing a specific emphasis on members Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis who have up until now been the least publicized core members of the group. The two officially open the album with a song entitled “Bitches” and trade off verses odd school style and go on to be featured each 8 more times. It’s refreshing to see established members of the crew like Tyler or hyped singer Frank Ocean take a rest and allow every member in the group some time. Even subsidiary characters like Taco and Jasper Dolphin, who have traditionally been far on the depth charts of the group, get featured.
Despite missteps like the blatantly offensive “We Got Bitches” and the angry MellowHype track “50”, generally these tracks are enjoyable start to finish. “Analog 2” featuring Tyler the Creator with Frank Ocean and Syd tha Kid is wonderfully entrancing musically and is a poetic dedication to sunsets and picnicking. Any of the tracks featuring Frank Ocean are phenomenal, particularly the short piano excerpt “White” that works perfectly as a refresher between the fuzzy throbber “P” and the pulsing minimalist synth jam “Hcad”.
The offensiveness is still here, don’t get me wrong, but it’s toned down. I can only imagine that the intensity of the internet bred industry has forced these guys to grow up a bit, and that in 10 years the music they’ll be making will cease to heavily rely on F-bombs, violence and hatred. The culmination of the album (and the return of Earl Sweatshirt!), a 10-minute track entitled “Oldie”, somehow captures the personalities and geniuses of Odd Future. It’s indie hip-hop with kids who are not as seasoned as your Eminem’s and Jay-Z’s. Their minimalist beats and collaborative style comes across in the track, and in the opinion of THIS writer it’s a worthwhile pick up if Odd Future is your bag. None the less, all the dynamic shortcomings of the group bleed through to the album in many places and that is where I separate myself a bit, both from The Odd Future Tape Volume 2 and Odd Future themselves. Grade – B