Retroactively at least, Mellowhype is a funny name for an Odd Future spinoff. Since Tyler the Creator and his fellow brigands exploded Jimmy Fallon’s stage in February the hype’s been anything but mellow. Since then Left Brain and Hodgy Beats, once fully obscure, have eaten tacos with Jay-Z and seen BlackenedWhite upgraded from free download to hurriedly-edited reissue.
That BlackenedWhite is getting the physical release treatment after being on the Internet so long shows how fast time moves in music now, while also being a really old-fashioned move. The old joke about remastering is that they just go back and make everything louder in order to resell the same product. BlackenedWhite proper only has two new tracks and loses six from the original free version, so if you liked Odd Future already it’s a redundancy.
The holdover tracks, from “Gunsounds” to “Deaddeputy,” lurk around the sketchy legacy of golden-age gangsta without really distinguishing themselves; neither Left Brain’s production nor Hodgy Beats’ rhyming really stand out much in the OFWGKTA repertoire. The best of the lot are “F666 The Police” and “Rico,” which feature Tyler and Frank Ocean, respectively. (Maybe it’s the melody nerd in me but those two are Odd Future to me — Tyler’s recent Summer Camp, for instance, is the most nonchalant mixtape of the year, and one of the best. And Frank Ocean is Lionel Ritchie got right.)
The first addition to BlackenedWhite, “64,” actually sounds like what horrorcore would sound like if such a thing existed. There’s the line “fuck financial aid/ cash students” which is funny to only me, probably — it’s the image of walking into the UCLA bursar’s office or something with a duffel bag once a semester. The other new track, “Igotagun,” sounds sneakily like Eminem; I’ve got no use for it.
Tyler, and by extension everyone in Odd Future, never thought they’d be famous. The early material has all the ruddy fuck-you vibe of the underground and, at its best, bumps modern hip-hop up to full functionality. Of course the lyrics and mood were dark and dangerous so we’re still in this debate about whether or not Tyler, principally, hates women. Which is obviously a debate he never expected to have.
What they’ll be running into any second now is repetition, which isn’t new but could be really problematic. Bill Watterson said once that writing “Calvin & Hobbes” was easy because he only had to know as much as a lazy six-year-old. From Tyler on down (and if he’s got a fictional analogue, it’s Calvin) they’ll have to teach themselves to govern. In Mellowhype’s case re-releasing material already readily available is only interesting when weighed against the next record, possibly out this year. It better bring the jams.
Analog Brothers – Pimp to Eat
Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
Gravediggaz – Six Feet Deep
Video: Mellowhype – “64”