Released: March 20, 2012
Label: Odd Future Records
Review by: Nick
They have been called “repulsive,” “irresponsible,” and “juvenile.” They’ve been called “genius,” and “the future of hip hop.” Love them or hate them, the meteoric rise of rap collective Odd Future is something truly astounding. This group of young, 20-something rappers has gone from self releasing tracks on their website to selling out national tours and performing on MTV. And the release of their debut album, The Odd Future Tape Volume 2, will only help in their journey to the top of the hip hop world.
Although they have released mixtapes as a collective, this is their first proper album. It is also the first taste of the members other than Tyler, The Creator for many fans. As the group’s leader, Tyler has a hand in most of the tracks, either by contributing a verse or by making the beats. But the other members really shine when they are called upon. Hodgy Beats, who recently released his own mixtape, displays his skills throughout, especially on “50” and “Snow White”. The former is as close to a punk rock song as rap can get, with Hodgy chaotically rhyming over a pulsating beat as Tyler provides a ridiculously catchy hook. The latter sees Hodgy taking a much more relaxed flow, with Frank Ocean’s soulful voice providing a stark contrast. Ocean, who’s currently opening for Coldplay on their world tour, represents the best chance of any Odd Future artist to cross over to the radio. His laid back R&B style is a far departure from his peers, as shown on his lone solo track on the album, “White”. The other two rappers in the collective, Domo Genesis and Mike G, get chances to display their talent as well, and don’t disappoint. Mike G is one of the least known of the group, but really shines on his solo track, “Forest Green”, an album highlight. He drawls over a simple synth line and hand claps, even contributing his own chorus, making it the best of the solo tracks on the album. Then there’s Domo Genesis, arguably the most talented rapper in the collective. His cocky rhymes steal the show on each of the six tracks that he is a part of. Domo has a more reserved style of rapping, meticulously weaving his lines together while always staying calm and collected. The real highlight, however, comes at the end of the album, with closer “Oldie”. The 10 minute song features each of the members providing a verse over a simple drum beat. It lets each of the members put their strengths and skills on display, and the video they made to accompany it shows how much fun they have while performing together. It also features the triumphant return of Earl Sweatshirt, the 18-year-old prodigy who had been kept away from the group for much of the last 2 years. Sweatshirt’s incredible verse combines his clever wordplay with tongue twisting rhymes, and is the high point of a great song, ended with one final verse by Tyler, looking back on their journey to this point.
The Odd Future Tape Volume 2 is one of the best hip hop albums I have heard in quite a while. The combination of Tyler’s minimalist electronic beats and all the different styles the members bring to the table creates a truly special sound. You can hear in the songs that they are enjoying themselves and legitimately care about the music they make, something refreshing in the hip hop scene. Odd Future has come a long way to get to this point, and they will continue to grow. As Tyler puts it on the track “Sam”, “It’s really awkward to know that a bunch of kids do adore me….I’m still a kid in my heart so I have a problem maturing, but it’ll come from experiences…” It will be interesting to see where the group goes from here, but they will most certainly not go quietly.