Review Summary: It may not show much in the way of growth, but it will quench fans thirst, and that's all they care about. Even if it isn't the grandest example of what the true alternative hip hop label is.
After last year where the collective’s ring leader Tyler, the Creator was the biggest solo success to spawn from OFWGKTA as of yet, Odd Future seizes upon the opportunity to take advantage of this new-found level of attention by releasing a brand new mixtape showcasing nearly everyone in the gang, to the eager ears of the new wave of hipster teenagers craving more indie hip hop artists who back their lines with as minimal production as Tyler, and give as little a *** as Tyler’s personality does in those lines.
Tyler himself is obviously very prominent on this tape in both the performance and production departments, but don’t get the impression that this tape is the “Tyler, the Creator and friends show”, because he is the most successful member so its to be expected that he’s gonna have a big role to meet audiences demands. And who’s really complaining? He is the best one out of the group, even if that means that his do outshine the other members at times. Anyone who loved Goblin for Tyler and decided to listen to this for Tyler and Tyler alone, (along with the enticing sequel to one of Goblin’s tracks “Analog”) may at first see everyone else’s parts as weaker filler until Tyler comes in.
This really isn’t the case though, as everybody does shine here in their own way, maybe not as evenly as one would like because of Tyler’s dominance, but anyone who first caught awareness of the Odd Future crew through Tyler and wants to get more into Hodgy or Domo with a nice sampler tour of the rest of the group on one mixtape will find this as that great medium.
This Mixtape properly captures what the title “MIXtape” really means, which is mix of a lot of different things, (in this case different artists) and it’s a vital and necessary definition clarification in the current mixtape age of hip hop where it seems like artists release mixtapes every single week as just a disc to throw songs on in between official studio albums.
Some may be asking themselves if this really counts as alternative hip hop. The lyrics certainly don’t focus on the themes that alternative hip hop heavyweights A Tribe Called Quest and OutKast do, and they definitely aren’t delivered with much unique flow. Tyler always had an attitude that sounded like he didn’t give a *** on his solo work, sometimes grunting his work through songs, and everyone here on this mixtape follows along the same lines really, but in a more robotic way. Tyler at least when he delivered these careless spits truly showed the emotion of carelessness and while it wasn’t as effective as one would like it to be, (little more than a downward spiral of angry rants for teenagers feeling like *** to cope with and say *** society all together) but he was believable and it prevented it from slouching into dull territory. Unfortunately, that dull territory is somewhat prevalent in the attitudes of everyone else here. They sound like typical rappers following too closely in the philosophies of Tyler.
The beats themselves definitely aren’t as extravagant, imaginative, or catchy as those of other alternative hip hop groups. Should this pass as alternative hip hop just because the lines of average rappers are backed with lo-fi production and a raw and simplistic indie feel, that’s the opposite of the big production sounds of rappers saying essentially that same things but not as provocative as the independent ones here? Should it just be limited in terms to indie hip hop? If you care that much sure. Main point is here that the raw indie beats create the appropriate atmosphere, it’s all just a bit underwhelming and not as creative as prior indie groups. Notable and definitely there, but it works, yet doesn’t work that much.
To make a Slim Shady comparison, the Eminem character was offensive and didn’t give a ***, but he was truly an insane performance, his flow was energetic and had much emotional angle to what he displayed, he sounded depressed when he was depressed, sounded mad when he was mad, he sounded like a real person, with of course great beats backing him. The lyrics on this tape are catchy and memorable, but it only goes so far, especially with Tyler. When he says what he says it’s both funny, interesting, and insightful, but his delivery just sounds like this constant downward spiral of pissed off anxiety too much of the time when it really could be more well rounded, and this applies to anyone else on the tape.
I would give this album a 3/5, but I’m giving it a 3.5/5 because of the special elements it shows that other run-of-the-mill indie hip hop artists don’t, but they are only still showing potential, and since it has been a while since their formation it can’t be viewed as improvement at this point. These special elements don’t really embrace the sound and revise it, but are just apparent, I would give this a 4/5 if these traits where more powerful, but it’s honestly a 3.5/5 because the traits push it above mediocre but aren’t effective enough to make it completely solid. It brings both things to the table that can be used to argue for this albums quality (leading to overrating the album), and what’s missing in those elements can be used to argue its flaws (leading to over-hating the album), and that’s why I feel it’s right to cut it off at that extra half star.