It has been over a year since Tyler, The Creator released his single “Yonkers” and launched Odd Future into the mainstream’s conscience. Now that his shock factor has worn off, it’s time to see if the others in the rap collective can produce similar results. With their major label debut Numbers, MellowHype try to stand out with an ambitious effort.
Consisting of rapper Hodgy Beats and producer Left Brain, MellowHype represent some of the best talent in Odd Future. They have a distinctly darker sound than many of their counterparts, and Numbers has them showing that off. The beats, courtesy of Left Brain, are the strongest point of the album. Each track features layer upon layer of sound to create a very particular mood. “Grill” opens the album with wobbling electronics and an upbeat snare, then flows into a simple piano and drumbeat on “65/Breakfast,” showing how they can make some of their best music with very minimalist production. First single “La Bonita” shows the other side of this as Spanish influenced drums, bells and accordions take over the track and give an otherwise bland song new life. The versatility Left Brain shows with his production is astounding and really carries the album.
Hodgy Beats has proven to be one of the strongest MCs in Odd Future, but when given his chance to shine here, he comes up short. His signature laid-back, slurred speech style, while good, becomes repetitive and fades into the background on a lot of these tracks. It’s disappointing because Hodgy has shown that he is capable of carrying tracks, but here he seems to be taking a backseat to the production. That’s not to say his performance on the album is terrible. “Under 2” shows him putting a lot of emotion and heart into a track about his son while “65/Breakfast” proves that his strength is with a simpler, slow-tempo song. The best song on the album, however, is “Astro.” They enlist the help of their Odd Future teammate Frank Ocean, who delivers a stellar hook over Left Brain’s wavering synths while Hodgy turns in his strongest verses of the album.
The weakest aspect of Numbers is the hooks and choruses. Excluding “Astro,” the choruses on the album are mediocre at best. On “Nfwgjdsh,” “Untitled L,” and “Leflair,” the choruses drag the songs down and disrupt the their flow. They would have worked better simply without hooks, allowing Hodgy’s rhymes and Left Brain’s production to keep the spotlight.
MellowHype took a chance with Numbers. It’s ambitious in that you can tell they wanted to create a sound and they went for it. While there are stumbles throughout, this album shows that with some tweaking, MellowHype could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.