Between all the madcap happenings surrounding the Odd Future crew — Tyler's maniacal musings, Frank Ocean's R&B ruminations, the occasion palm tree burned down by one of their fans — sometimes folks forget about MellowHype, the two-man outfit comprised of caustic spitter Hodgy Beats and producer extraordinaire Left Brain.
Don't make that mistake! Today the duo follows up their acclaimed 2010 mixtape BlackendWhite with Numbers, their official full-length debut. We spoke with Hodgy about their gritty sounds, pushy record executives, and annoying reporters.
Judging by the hook on Numbers track “NDJKHSIF” (“People wanna know how I feel about a lot of shit/But I don't give information to these motherfuckers”) I'm guessing you're not fond of reporters?
That's really honest, though. I'm fucking crazy. I'll say some shit and I'll go and look at those interviews and be like 'yo.' And I'll be fucked up from that shit. Honestly, I don't like interviews. I'd rather not do them at all. But my surroundings are telling me that I should take interviews. You seem cool. I run into a lot of really weird people. You never who's out to fucking get you. Which normally is everybody.
It was surprising to see that Tyler didn't get a feature on Numbers.
I was feeling kinda weird cause Tyler wasn't on it for the first time. But there's too many of us, yo. I should just slap all of 'em in one song.
Frank should have hooked you up with a feature on Channel ORANGE?
Yah, Frank needs to stop fucking around and put me on his next album. (Laughs.) I been on his head about that shit.
What other Odd Future-related projects are you currently involved with?
I'm up on [Tyler, The Creator's forthcoming album] Wolf singing like a pretty lady. I'm working on my untitled album, which will have zero features. The untitled EP had no features and I'm not big on features. The untitled album will be 13 tracks, only just me on there rapping. And I'm hearing Mike G is working up an EP. I'm excited for that. I seen him in the studio. Domo and Mike G I think are coming out with something together. I don't know the title or anything.
You guys have so much in the works. It's kind of absurd.
Yah, it kinda trips me out.
Was there a certain stylistic shift you were going for from BlackendWhite to Numbers?
We honestly wanted our shit to sound like a studio album. Like it was recorded in a professional studio. But sound-wise, we wanted it to one-up BlackendWhite basically. I've listened to BlackendWhite thoroughly — the mixtape, not the re-release — and then I've listened to Numbers, and fuck, production, just everything has improved.
Much of the album – particularly tracks like “Grill” and “Untitled L” — has this gritty, almost dirty sound.
That's the kind of music we make. That's the music MellowHype makes. It's either dirty and gritty as fuck or beautiful. I don't believe there's a medium. I have cuts on there that are real calm and a lot of people can relate to them. That's what I was trying to do lyrically as an artist. Relate to the fans, and people that are not even fans.
Was the more light-hearted “Snare,” which features a young girl on the hook, one such track?
Yah, “Snare.” And fuckin', what's the one with the trumpets? “Brain”; the outro; the “NDWJ, whatever the fuck,” I dunno, man. A lot of people thought the whole album was going to be a bunch of numbers and shit And it was funny because in the beginning I was just fucking with people with all the numbers and shit. I was just playing around. Just trying to get people to talk a bunch.
The title of the track “NDJKHSIF” can't possibly have a deeper meaning.
(laughs) No. Fuck no. I don't name beats or name songs. I think it's fuckin' stupid. (Left Brain) names the beats; I'm just rappin' over it.
Last month you and Left Brain championed “MellowHype Week,” dropping one track a day for an entire week.
Yah, fuck a mixtape, man. Those are songs we accumulated recording for Numbers. We have a big process of elimination. Those songs were actually eliminated.
Why is that?
I guess we just go with instincts. There's two of us and we also have a great engineer, a buddy of mine. There's basically three of us when we're in the studio. He's a tiebreaker.
Do you two disagree a lot about what should make the cut?
Yah, sometimes. And then normally we'll record something else that's probably better than that song and then compromise. It's easy. It's not like some drawn out thing, you know what I'm saying? I'm like working with friends. That's how it should be, man.
The process must be easier seeing as you're signed to a major (in 2011 Odd Future inked a deal with RED/Sony) but, for all intents and purposes, you operate independently of the label. That means no executives talking in your ear.
I never did push to make a certain song or write a certain verse a certain way, unless it was a concept. But having no politics or people in your ear when you create it, it's just amazing. You're as free as possible. It's crazy. But it works.