Review Summary: BLACKENEDWHITE is an album that boasts some incredibly strong tracks and is just unique enough to stand tall among their peers, while falling short as an album.
One of the best things about hip-hop is the absolute diversity that encompasses the genre. In a world full of ridiculous sub-subgenres, it is refreshing to have hip-hop apply to everyone from Illogic to Mac Miller. Instead of artists attempting to stay in their lane and being kept in a proverbial box, it frees them up to experiment with different sounds; it ultimately rewards the listeners with more varied releases and a more honest representation of the artist's vision. Enter MellowHype, a splinter group from the collective Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), consisting of Hodgy Beats (rapper) and Left Brain (beats/production). The collective itself is known for gleefully obscene lyrics and childishly offensive antics, which naturally leads the listener's attention away from the actual music. In the case of BLACKENEDWHITE
, this image is incredibly detrimental because the music is, well...good. The combination of Hodgy's adaptable flow and always interesting subject matter coupled with Left Brain's purely innovative beats create an album that stands tall on its own merits.
is an interesting mix of off-kilter indie hip-hop beats and run-of-the-mill gangsta rap braggadocio, which gives it a somewhat uneven feeling. Uneven is the main theme throughout the album, which is disappointing considering the amount of talent that is present here. There are some songs in which everything seems to go right, such as "Loaded" featuring Mike G. Mike G's laid-back and smooth flow complements Hodgy's more personable delivery, and the synth-heavy beat is certainly the most fun you will have on this album. Frank Ocean's contribution to the chorus on "Hell" lifts it from a mediocre song to among the best on the album. MellowHype have certainly made good decisions on the guest appearances on BLACKENEDWHITE
but the real travesty is the lack of cohesiveness. Hodgy's charm runs very thin once it becomes apparent that the lack of life experience also translates to tired lyrical themes being revisited time and time again. Drugs, girls, and money dominate the album and it becomes wearisome after listening through the album, especially given that the quality of the songs decrease as it progresses as well. The first six songs of this album point to an incredibly strong and varied album, but then the lazy drawl of "Right Here" hits, killing the momentum and excitement that had been built up thus far. The children's choir sample in "Loco" brings back the ingenuity of the beginning of the album, but the trend seems to be Hodgy and Left Brain phoning it in on the same songs; "Stripclub" is as vapid as it sounds, and "Chordaroy" fails to impress even with appearances from Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator.
It is difficult to not to be disappointed with the entirety of BLACKENEDWHITE
, as the potential displayed is much greater than what was actually delivered. As it stands, it is still an album that boasts some incredibly strong tracks and is just unique enough to stand tall among their peers. Songs like "Deaddeputy" and "Primo" quell the frustration of the weaker tracks, and at the very least point to a strong future for the duo. One can only hope that they ditch the strip club mentality and give their listeners a bit more substance the next time around.