Review Summary: Slick production and a more wild flow make this a step up from his previous material.
Although most people are only aware of the leader of Odd Future, Tyler, The Creator, he is far from being the high point of the "hip-hop" collective, despite his abilities as a producer and lyricist. There's Frank Ocean, whose recent channel ORANGE
probably proved him as both the most talented and the most accessible artist within the group. There's Earl Sweatshirt, whose lyrical dexterity (not to mention a healthy bit of mystery) has caused many to think of him as a spiritual successor to Nas, as far as clever lyrics go. And there's Domo Genesis, the stoner rapper in the midst of a group of stoners. Although he was interesting to listen to in a hazy, relaxed way on his debut Rolling Papers
, he wasn't the most interesting or attention-grabbing out of the group at the time.
That's all changed at this point. Many people have made the claim that Domo's writing prowess has improved drastically in the time since Papers
, shown on his many appearances on the OF Tape, Vol. 2
. They are, objectively, correct, and it's evident on No Idols
. Domo has managed to retain and better his signature flow, becoming more apt to let loose rather than just sit back and let the violent antics of Earl and Tyler outshine him. It still has the hazy, weed-addled vibe to it, but he now sounds more comfortable. His lyrics have also improved, becoming more complex and intelligent in rhyme scheme and word choice, right from the opening, with the lines "It's heavy as Heaven/I'm workin' like 7-11/And my thoughts gettin' hectic/In need of a blunt and Excedrin". The flow and the words fit together splendidly. As another example, "Me & My Bitch" is interestingly witty, as upon first listen, you'd think it was about a woman and a homage to the Biggie song of the same name (given that the hook is the same). Closer investigation of the lyrics reveals that the song is - of course - about marijuana. Certainly not new ground, but more entertaining than the blunt (sorry) herb-related lyrics of his debut. That's a good summary of the words that make up No Idols
, really. It's not groundbreaking, but it's certainly enjoyable and it's certainly smarter than Domo's earlier work.
As for production, the Alchemist was a perfect choice. Tyler's work on Papers
was definitely above average, but it's pleasant to hear members of Odd Future over music that was clearly not strictly created by Tyler, Left Brain, or Syd. Slick rock guitar pops up in a few songs, such as opener "Prophecy" and "Power Ballad (Ft. Smoke DZA)", and organ is seen in "Elimination Chamber (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples & Action Bronson)". These differing elements create a new sound that works extremely well for Domo, and is quite unlike anything we've heard before from the group. The only major misstep is on "All Alone", which has some sort of grunting old man or something over and over again that doesn't really add anything and winds up being more annoying than anything else. There also seems to be a lot of crackle on certain songs, which can be irritating, and the Alchemist's tactic of introducing a song with a skipping beat is overused here.
Guest features are also well-done, not overshadowing Domo but not hiding in the background. The new, less vulgar Earl Sweatshirt continues his streak of monstrous bars, appearing on three different tracks. Tyler delivers more furious venom than he has in a while, in typically offensive style. The other guests, which include Vince Staples, Smoke DZA, Action Bronson, and no less than Prodigy of Mobb Deep, all deliver high-quality bars, or at the very least don't ruin the song for everyone else involved.
is a brilliant showcase of Domo Genesis' rapping and the Alchemist's production. Other than some mistakes in production, some unnecessary guest features (Freddie Gibbs...) and the lack of truly new lyrical ideas, it's a fun album that's easy to listen to and will probably entice people back.