If Tyler, the Creator is the Father of decidedly unholy L.A. rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, then consider Hodgy Beats the Son and Left Brain the Holy Ghost. With the former on the mic and the latter on the beats, they preach the sinister gospel of MellowHype, the Odd Future subgroup whose punchy ode to delinquency Blackenedwhite is slated for re-release July 12 through Fat Possum.
The album originally was released for free on Odd Future's Tumblr last October, described as “The Perfect Soundtrack for Mobbing on a Dark Halloween Night.” The new version, streamlined from a bloated 15 tracks to a more palatable 11, doesn't deviate, though it does admittedly suffer from the loss of its most innovative songs, “Loco” and “Chordaroy,” which due to various legal hurdles were left on the cutting room floor.
Nonetheless, Blackenedwhite is definitive proof that there's more to Odd Future than Tyler's gravel-throated angst: It solidifies the collective's place in new music as a gnashing creative force that's here to stay.
Five Reasons to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Odd Future's MellowHype:
5. They break new ground with kid gloves. MellowHype are nothing if not bizarre, raw and compelling; but for better or for worse, they're also the most accessible Wolves in the OFWGKTA pack. Consider them the Odd Future gateway drug: With Tyler and co. giggling about kidnapping and suicide, MellowHype's rhymes about ditching school (“Primo”) probably inspire more sighs of relief than they do outrage. Even more disturbing numbers like “Gunsounds,” “Deaddeputy” and “F666 the Police” are only carrying the torch N.W.A lit nearly 25 years ago. But in a scene dominated by eye-glazing gangsta rap tropes from the likes of Young Jeezy, it's about time that torch was passed off to some kids who know how to start a few fires.
4. They have crossover appeal. Odd Future has a rare and fascinating magnetic ability to draw fans from across musical factions, uniting listeners in both a sound and the rage-fueled ethic that underlies it. MellowHype's recent performance with scuzzy garage rock label mates Bass Drum of Death on Fuel TV's The Daily Habit is a standout example of this: While rap-rock collaborations aren't by any means new, few fits have been sweeter or have left us so eagerly crossing our fingers in hopes for more.
3. They are the Dynamic Duo. Like all of Odd Future's lyricists, Hodgy throws knives when he rhymes. But he's also from the Wiz Khalifa stoner-rap camp, and his snarky, more conventionally smooth drawl is a delightfully strange pairing with Left Brain's twisted, knuckle-cracking beats. But what Hodgy might lack in fiendish ferocity he makes up for with momentum; when a lead-heavy beat drops, his rhymes hit the ground running with attention-commanding confidence that spikes your adrenaline.
2. Left Brain's production. The laptop-tinkering half of MellowHype holds a candle and then some to Tyler's acclaimed beat-making. Whether it's the decayed synth of “Brain” and “Rico” or the lo-fi apocalyptic crunk of “Gun Sounds” and “Igotagun,” Left Brain has mastered the delicate art of producing tunes that manage to be both hypnotic and dynamic. Love 'em or hate 'em, we dare you to find a MellowHype beat you don't like.
1. The track “64.” While the absence of some original standout tracks on Blackenedwhite's new incarnation took a toll, the addition of new numbers like “64” tells us the best is yet to come. The duo shows a new commitment to aggression and takes a step away from the minimalist inclinations that atrophied songs like “Primo” and “Deaddeputy.” On “64,” Left Brain unleashes a malefic, bouncing bass line that's sure to leave its mark on your eardrums, while Hodgy finally lets a little more of his crazy out with rhymes that are downright puckish: “Knock, knock! Delivery, I'm the rhetorician/Body decomposition, ripping through your rhythm.” And with that crazy has come a stronger creative footing for the duo, including designing new cover art and the concept for the “64” music video. The latter is a creepy-campy ode to the living dead that at once enhances the song's sinister feel and winks at its own absurdity. And if MellowHype can keep doing both, they'll be delivering for a long time to come.