“I was fifteen when I first drew that donut. Five years later, for our label…yeah, we own it.”
So spits the underground hip-hop wunderkind Tyler, The Creator, perfectly summing up what has been a short, yet strange road for him and Odd Future over the past half-decade. After the booming success of his solo record Goblin, which featured cameo appearances from fellow Golf Wang affiliates such Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator and the rest of Odd Future are suddenly making their mark on a scene that was quickly becoming stale. Now, after a Video Music Award, a newly developed television show on Adult Swim and thousands of free downloads later, the group is back in full force with their latest effort The OF Tape, Vol 2. And while it may be less than perfect, the group continues to successfully evaluate their psyches in the public eye, while simultaneously upholding to the standards they’ve set by their previous releases.
After opening with an obligatory ‘diss track (on themselves), the album begins. Much like Odd Future’s previous works, the album’s material ranges from the highest of quality to the borderline pandering. However, when the album’s material works, it really works. Leadoff single for the record “Rella”, works well in this respect, taking a heavy-on-the-bass, synth-laden beat while mixing it with a level of lyrical content that takes equal amounts of jumbled-up sound-alikes and reflective description. Sure, “Rella” isn’t in any way going to rival songs like “Yonkers” or “Bastard” in terms of horror-drenched narrative, but it still succeeds in its mission to provide listeners with some of the wildest, most carefree verses the group has written to date.
Furthermore, the group’s production on the album has definitely risen to greater heights since their earliest days of recording. “Ya Know” sounds like it could be a jazz interpretation to the score of The Social Network, while “Forest Green” would fit right at home next to tracks currently being made by artists like Kid Cudi. Tracks such as these are crisp, atmospheric and can be daunting at times, especially when looking what was being produced years before. Not only this, but because The OF Tape is a record showcasing every member of Odd Future, the album resultantly features a diverse assortment of tracks. Take “White”, for example, a stripped-down R&B number that soars thanks to a gorgeous, bare-bones piano that lies in the background well-enough to let modern-day crooner Frank Ocean bring back the fondest memories of Boyz II Men.
However, none of these tracks can match the raw power of “Oldie”, the ten minute, nine-verse, all killer, no filler closer for the record, and up amongst the finest of tracks Odd Future has thus far created. With almost every member pulling their weight in some capacity, it ends the compilation on a high note. While Tyler, Hodgy and Domo Genesis stand on their own merits, it really is the triumphant return of now officially freed Earl Sweatshirt who steals the show, single-handedly showing that you can take the kid out of game, but you can’t take the game out of the kid. His massive, thought-provoking verse around the seven minute mark is sure to both turn heads and keep your wits about you, as he packs in so much into one verse it’ll leave you breathless. It’s a mesmerizing moment like this that makes you glad that the young prodigy is back and better than ever.
Given all of these positive aspects, you’d think that the record would be an easy sell to anyone looking for a great hip-hop album. However, all is not sound in the land of Golf Wang. My biggest problem with the record is that it just doesn’t have that “natural record” feel. I understand that with an album title like The OF Tape, Vol. 2, it’s going to naturally feel like a mixtape of sorts, but for a record that’s getting nationwide distribution, I would’ve loved to have seen a more natural flow to the tracks. Not only this, but because it’s more of a hodge-podge of tracks instead of an actual album, the group tends to go for quantity over quality in some cases. Some of these tracks include, but aren’t limited to, “NY (Ned Flanders)”, a very urgent track that mostly consists of Spanish gibberish over a pessimistic beat that could’ve found better use elsewhere and “Real Bitch”, a monotonous, tone-deaf “ballad” that feels like something that should’ve been cut off in the preliminary stages of development. Tracks like these stand out for the wrong reasons, which is unfortunate, because if the group had stuck to the same standards they set with songs like “Rella” and “White”, a recommendation for the new album would be much more definite. Here’s hoping that they remember that next time.
However, despite these hiccups, The OF Tape, Vol. 2 is a mostly solid release for the group. Though Tyler, The Creator’s Goblin will continue to function as the groundwork for Odd Future’s success in terms of quality, the new album has done a sufficient job of remaining true to the customs of their music, but will still help draw in new fans by the hundreds of thousands. So, without question, I must say, Tyler…
“Not only are you [and the rest of Odd Future] talented…you’re rad as fuck.”