Review Summary: Odd Future's dynamic duo release the hip-hop record of 2010.
It's been a lackluster year in hip-hop for me. Sure, there have been a few gems glowing out of the murky depths of mediocrity; Big Boi's official first solo album and Dark Time Sunshine's Vessel
come to mind, but there hasn't been any hint of consistency in the genre in 2010, a year that has been solid in music throughout the genre landscape. We're still itching with anticipation for Kanye West's new album, as well as T.I.'s, but both mainstream and underground have not offered much in terms of groundbreaking or memorable hip-hop albums for the last 10 months. Leave it to Odd Future, L.A.'s answer to the average work coming out of the west coast for what seems like ages, to release a record that frankly shatters the rest of the hip-hop world in 2010. Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, or MellowHype, are one-part charismatic rapper and one-part eclectic and modern producer that put all their eggs into one basket for BLACKENEDWHITE
. A rap album for hip-hop purists and someone just looking for an album to "bump" in their speakers, BLACKENEDWHITE
harkens back a few months to Sir Luscious Left Foot
in that it's an extremely fun and confident listen that takes little to no effort to enjoy, but has enough nuances and brilliant beats to make any hip-hop afficionado jump for joy and light a spliff in approval. Monstrous beats layered with sparkling sounds and gritty bass propel Hodgy's half-sarcastic, half-angered lyrics that don't invigorate any thoughts of originality (drugs, money, and bitches seem to be at the helm of the subject matter here), however his flow and knack for changing up speeds and ideas is a refreshing listen.
While Odd Future has been quite busy as of late, releasing mastermind Tyler, The Creator's debut Bastard
and Domo's ode to weed in Rolling Papers
in the span of 9 months, neither quite comes close to reaching the confidence and creativity of BLACKENEDWHITE
. The album reeks of swag, as Hodgy and Left Brain feed off each other's most convinced ideas and lift each other up to heights previously unknown to either of them. Wherever Hodgy spits a knock-out line, Left Brain is right behind him with a sudden swirl of piano keys or an infectious bass pound. The two seem more like an unstoppable force than ever before; Hodgy allows Left to experiment more with his creative juices and let the beats take a more assertive role in the record as opposed to past Odd Future releases. Take lead track "Primo", where Left's spastic beat is layered with depressive keyboards that gives off an incredible sense of density, as Hodgy raps about grams, kilos, and being up in the clouds. The album is also not without its fair share of hooks; the gat blast samples in "Gun Sounds" as Hodgy officially sets it off with "Where the fuck is MellowHype?"
; the distorted chorus of "Man, when it came to school, I got bad grades / now when it came to the law, I didn't know how to behave / but with music, music I'm on the honor roll / we on a roll"
in the slow dive into piano-led euphoria of "Brain" (which does feature an outstanding verse by Domo); the old-school sounding "Hell" that has a sung chorus of "You'll never have time, time"
brimming with life. Either way, BLACKENEDWHITE
stays inventive and stimulating throughout, throwing beat after heavy beat, relishing in its own arrogance.
The cohesive BLACKENEDWHITE
proves that Odd Future are now hitting their stride, and have finally come up with their prized possession; a record that exemplifies all the courage and swag these west-coast revivalists have shown throughout the years, even without their founder Tyler, The Creator at the forefront. Hodgy and Left Brain have teamed up to take all that was good in Odd Future's past releases and add their own spins to it, creating a record that is undeniably Odd Future's, and yet feels like Hodgy and Left's masterpiece alone.