Posted by Matt D'Ippolito on 03/22 at 04:00 PM
Bewildering. Trippy. Abhorrent. Fantastic. Scary. Cool. Different. As usual, an incredibly diverse set of adjectives can be applied to an Odd Future production.
Most of all, though, the hip hop collective’s second major release is confusing. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to rate.
“The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2” is the hip hop collective’s debut “studio album” and a followup to their 2008 mixtape, as well as various other bizarre releases from the group’s numerous solo acts and subgroups.
It elicits exactly the type of response we’ve come to expect from OFWGKTA: a strange mix of horror, enjoyment and, most of all, fascination. Where to begin? The best example (is “best” the correct word?) of the album’s edge-of-sanity feel is probably “NY (Ned Flander),” released earlier this month. Why it’s named in part after a Simpsons character is a complete mystery. The song features a beat built around a piano line that sounds like it came out of a corny thriller film. That alone is enough to make listeners ask if they “need meds from a mental institution,” as Hodgy Beats raps in his part of the song. The lyrics also contain a slew of jumbled up references, like “you can’t carry this gun Cannon Nickelodeon boy” (perhaps a reference to Nick Cannon’s MTV series “Son of a Gun?”) and “get rich and marry fat bitch Lamar Odiem” (surely making fun of Lamar Odom and wife Khloe Kardashian). There’s also a rather unfortunate mention of Jerry Sandusky in Tyler, The Creator’s part.
The other previously released track, “Rella,” is accompanied by the most bizarre music video ever seen. Hodgy, dressed in Master Chief-esque fashion, fires ejaculatory lasers that transform people into cats. Domo Genesis smacks a girl into another ethnicity. Apparently Tyler is some sort of androgynous centaur who can vacuum a Scarface-worthy mound of cocaine with his nose. And the whole time, Left Brain is wandering around looking very lost. Getting all that down in writing somehow makes the video seem less freakish than it is. Even though Tyler’s entrance about two-thirds of the way through interrupts the flow of the entire piece, it still manages to propel the song forward. Despite the brief interruption, the crunchy bass quickly returns. Crazy video and lewd content aside, this song probably has the catchiest beat on the album, with the possible exception of closing track, “Oldie.”
OF varies their sounds on this album a great deal. “50,” for example, parodies gangsta rap as a powerful, angry, driving track. The album’s sole dance track, “Ya Know,” performed by The Internet duo Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians, has spacey sounds overlaying a twangy, staccato beat with breathy vocals. For an electronica piece, though, it’s ironically not very danceable.
“Sam (Is Dead)” has brassy horns and electronic tunes that sound like they came from a vintage video game, all laid over the main rap lines, which come complete with a Kurt Cobain suicide reference. The album also includes some extra-slow romance-sounding tracks, or at least the OF take on love songs, like Frank Ocean’s “White.”
Closing track “Oldie” is a slow, easy-going keyboard beat that eases along, with the rap verses giving the song an edge. The 10 and a half minute track features nearly the entire collective, each rapping their own part, most of which seem to be about the usual nothing important. In the final verse, Tyler provides a relatively simple answer to the question of why their music is so offensive, as well as a response to the haters. After bragging about all he has accomplished before even reaching the legal drinking age, he explains that OF does what they do for all the rejects and kids like him. He closes with, “So instead of critiquing and bitchin’, bein’ mad as f***, just admit, not only are we talented, we’re rad as f***, bitches.” There you have it.
But don’t worry if you still have questions for OF. Most people do. I’m still trying to figure out who the hell Lucas is.
But it’s probably safe to assume that the group is offensive and strange simply for the sake of being offensive and strange. They want to challenge our sensibilities just to provide something different and remove what has become a fairly placid music market from its comfort zone. In a way, that makes them the Lady Gaga of hip hop, except, you know, their music exhibits a great deal of talent and what they do actually challenges sensibilities instead of pretending to while actually being a means to money and attention. Well, maybe it’s partially a means to those things, too. The point is, they seem to just be a bunch of kids having fun being frighteningly off-the-wall and pissing people off. Who can blame them?
While “The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2” might not have beats quite as catchy as previous hits, like “Yonkers” or “Orange Juice,” the album is still indicative of their incredible lyrical skills and usual antics. Once again, you know what you’re getting into when you listen to OF, while never quite knowing exactly what to expect.
Author: Matt D'Ippolito
Bio: Matthew D’Ippolito is currently a senior majoring in print journalism at Penn State with minors in political science and music technology. He plans on writing for Rolling Stone or Variety one day. Matt enjoys reading, playing sax, hiking and fishing. He enjoys a wide variety of music, but some favorites are punk, indie rock, classic rock, dubstep, jazz and classical. His favorite bands at the moment are Titus Andronicus, Streetlight Manifesto, Cloud Cult, Explosions in the Sky and ZOX.
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