odd future wolf gang kill them all // the of tapes vol. 2
by jared silva
Whatever your feelings are on the viral popularity of the LA hip hop collective Odd Future, you gotta give them credit for coming from pretty much nothing and, within a year, creating their own musical empire. They have major label backing from XL Records, they have their own record label Odd Future Records, they sell out concerts constantly, kids are wearing “FREE EARL” t-shirts like it’s the new “Jesus Is My Homeboy,” and they even have their own Adult Swim sketch comedy show premiering this Sunday, Loiter Squad. Most of the success of Odd Future stems out from all their own solo projects, most notably Tyler, The Creator’s solo albums, as well as Earl Sweatshirt, MellowHype, The Internet, and The Jet Age of Tomorrow, all which consist of different collaborations within the Odd Future family. Back in 2008, before half of these groups were even created and they were all just skateboarding Cali punks no one knew of, they released their debut mixtape, The Odd Future Tape. It featured 19 tracks giving a taste of the posse in their initial early form. It’s now been a year since all the solo projects from Odd Future have blown up in seemingly every facet of entertainment, so now the focus is on the established group as a whole with the sequel to their original mixtape, The OF Tape Vol. 2.
But don’t be fooled by the relation: this isn't a mixtape like the first one was. Christian Clancy, Odd Future’s manager, has gone on record to say that this is a full-length album, not a mixtape. For this OF Tape to be an album is kind of a mistake. On an album, there needs to be a certain amount of pacing and flow to make for a satisfying listen, but this album has practically none. When there are changes of pace though, those end up being some of the better songs featured on the album. “Ya Know” by The Internet (singer/DJ Syd tha Kyd and producer Matt Martians) is a chill electro-funk track with a great sense of 90′s New Jack Swing to make for an addictive chorus, and up-and-coming hook man Frank Ocean sings on “White” towards the end of the album with more compassion with his soul-wrenching voice and an atmospheric production in 2 minutes than all of the OF crew combined. And it’s a pretty depressing song.
Those are the only two songs that aren't directly apart of the hip hop personas Odd Future is known for. The rest of the album has a range to it, like most compilations (which this feels like more than a structured album), from surprisingly enjoyable to just god awful. The strong points for any Odd Future production is almost unfairly easy to pick out. Tyler for the most part is the highlight of any track he’s on. Their first single “Rella” is a pretty well done track all-around and “Sam (Is Dead)” gets pretty introspective for an OF song (Tyler: “I’m still a kid in my heart / so I have a problem maturing / but it will come from experiences and shit I see touring / I’m like a bird and I’m soaring”). His skill is on a whole other level compared to the rest of the crew, with tighter flow and slicker lyrics on the 8 tracks he’s featured on than by any of the others, with Hodgy Beats as second-in-command. Understandably, Earl Sweatshirt isn't really featured on any of the tracks (see: FREE EARL), otherwise he’d most likely be a big highlight for the album too. He does make a special appearance though on what is probably the best track of the album “Oldie,” a 10-minute freestyle featuring nine of the Odd Future members including Earl. The track sounds like a lot of fun for all of them, almost in a celebratory way. Set behind a simple beat, all the members involved in the track, even those who are usually lackluster, come of sounding at their best surrounded by all their peers. It’s a great example of how they love living in the moment and that kind of honesty shows.
As for the rest, there are unfortunately a lot of lows on The OF Tape Vol. 2. There are too many tracks that are similar to the past tracks featured in any of the side projects’ discography. MellowHype is a big offender of this and their track “Real Bitch” is the worst of them. Also featuring Taco, the track is just incredibly boring, with a muddy beat, lazy verses (basically any go-to is to rap about bitches sucking on their dick followed by “Swag”), and an annoying, tone deaf chorus. Other weak tracks include “Lean,” which has Hodgy Beats at his most hesitant, “Doms,” a bland Domo Genius solo track, and “We Got Bitches,” which is Tyler just being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious.
The inclusion of these kinds of tracks make it fairly obvious that if you aren't already a fan of Odd Future by now, this is not going to be the album to change your mind. The OF Tape Vol. 2 offers a great sample of what every crew member brings to the table, but when only one or two of those crew members shine while the others are pushed in the background, there are some obvious flaws within Odd Future itself to not want to recommend this. Let’s just wait to see how Tyler’s next album will go instead and skip this.
favorite tracks // “oldie,” “white,” “rella”
Listen to The OF Tape Vol. 2 now, via Spotify.