OFWGKTA – The OF Tape Vol. 2
OFWGKTA – The OF Tape Vol. 2
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’s star burned bright in 2011, the underground sensation moving a ways toward mainstream consciousness and sparking all sorts of controversy wherever they went. The thing about the collective, though, is that to everyone outside of their dedicated fans, there are only two or three real stars of the bunch: Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean. But since Ocean is known largely for his work outside of OFWGKTA and Earl was absent last year, all the group’s hype focused solely on Tyler, meaning that there hasn’t been a major, headline-grabbing Odd Future release since March 2011’s Goblin. So, it would appear, then, that the goal of The OF Tape Vol. 2, the group’s first collective album since Radical, would be to not only drum up some more press for OFWGKTA but to bring some attention to the under-recognized talent in the group.
To this end, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain come out the true winners. As the duo MellowHype, they get two songs for themselves—the abrasive rant “50” and the quasi-sincere love song “Real Bitch”—and as individuals, they still dominate the record. Hodgy raps on 10 out of the 18 tracks while Left Brain produces half the album, providing the tone and propelling some of the album’s best moments like the dementedly fun single “Rella” and the deceptively minimal opener “Bitches.” And though Hodgy’s raps don’t have the personality of, say, Tyler’s, he has style to burn, trading off gleefully profane wordplay with Domo Genesis, who features nearly as often throughout. Odd Future’s R&B projects also come up with a few gems, serving as smooth counterpoints to the confrontational hip-hop. The Internet turn in a delight with the futuristic soul “Ya Know,” and Ocean proves once again he’s a singer worth watching with the gorgeous “White.” The two jesters of the group, Taco and Jasper Dolphin, try once again—after failing miserably with “Bitch Suck Dick” on Goblin—to send-up modern hardcore rap with “We Got Bitches,” and fare much better here, though it still loses its novelty after one or two listens. Then, of course, there’s Tyler, the Creator, whose unpredictable growl, admirable production skills and twisted humor provide some of the most memorable moments, especially on “NY (Ned Flander),” “Rella” and “Analog 2.” He remains controversial as ever, even making room for not one but two jokes about the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. That being said, those who have been turned off by OFWGKTA’s extreme dark humor in the past should be relieved to know that they tone the shock level down quite a bit on The OF Tape, even if they are far from tame and light years away from radio-friendly.
If all this sounds erratic and overwhelming, it is; it’s a mixtape posing as a cohesive statement. Though there aren’t many obvious highlights, there aren’t many lulls either. But as an added bonus, the grand finale, the over-10-minute “Oldie,” gathers just about everyone up for one last, loose marathon, and, yes, Earl Sweatshirt returns for a few verses to show everyone what they’ve been missing. In the end though, it’s Tyler who gets the last word in: “Instead of critiquin’ and bitchin,’ being mad as fuck, just admit not only are we talented, we’re rad as fuck.” Well played. The OF Tape Vol. 2 will not be enough to turn their critics’ heads the other way, but for longtime fans and recent converts alike, it’s a satisfying entry to Odd Future’s catalog.