Odd Future’s New Mix Tape Dissappionts
The much anticipated OF Tape Vol. 2 was recently released on February 20, and it’s a mixed bag. Against all reason, Tyler, Hodgy, and the rest still believe that inane Waka Flocka parodies are the best showcase for their considerable skills.
The fact is, any eighth grader could come up with the concept and video for songs like “Rella.” Sure, the verses rhyme (Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and Tyler the Creator all know what internal rhyming and assonance are), but with songs as stupid as this, the overall effect is just aggravating. No matter how much Tyler whines on his astoundingly prolific and equally immature Twitter, people won’t respect him if he keeps making songs like this. It would appear that his life’s ambition has shifted from writing and producing intriguing music to putting out albums where half the Entertainmentsongs are terrible on purpose.
Even when he’s trying he can be abrasive, and not in a funny way. Say what you want about the misogyny of hip–hop, it’s not usually this dishonest. It turns out ignorant music is best made by ignorant people. However, don’t be mistaken; Tyler is by no means the only offender. When Jasper and Taco show up on (of course) “We Got Bitches,” they outdo him at his own game. Of course they don’t pretend to be rappers, really, just friends of Tyler who are obligated to appear on at least one song per Odd Future album. Since they make no pretense of skill, their rapping is funny, just like recording a song in the basement with friends can be funny. The problem is, anyone can do what they do, and if anyone can do it, why listen to Odd Future? Maybe Tyler doesn’t realize just how common bad rap is; It’s as accessible as the next idiot with a mic. Good rap is hard to find. That’s why it can be funny to listen to bad rappers rapping badly, but it’s frustrating to hear talented musicians doing the same, even if it’s by design.
The real alienating agent in Tyler’s rhymes here is not his violence or misogyny, but the stupidity. That’s not to say that Tyler’s verses are all bad, or even that the album is. Several of his contributions are noteworthy, particularly “NY” and “Analog 2”, but most of the highlights belong to others. Frank Ocean alone is responsible for the best song on the album, “White,” in which he reflects on nostalgia about his friends and the fleeting nature of life. The contrast between these beautiful two minutes and songs like “Real Bitch” is jarring, and extremely disappointing. In fact, Frank Ocean is the definition of consistent throughout the album, as is his way. Unlike Tyler, Frank Ocean actually sounds like he cares about the music, or about anything. Tyler would probably view his lack of concern as a virtue, but when it leads to results like this, the group’s audience will probably beg to differ.
On the album closer “Oldie,” everyone is on their “A” game, and it’s outstanding. The song is slow, minimalist, and meditative. It clocks in at ten minutes, and yet somehow does not drag. Indeed it’s some of the most engaging music the group has put out together, ever. Tyler is in defensive mode, attacking critics and boasting, but he’s not on autopilot. He mixes in a healthy amount of stream–of–consciousness rhyming, and keeps the vitriol to a minimum. Everyone else does what they do best, but Left Brain and Jasper Dolphin, apparently interested in branching out, each provide more than competent verses. It turns out that when Odd Future gets together, the results are still interesting and unpredictable.