As Odd Future worked its way out of blogs and onto magazine covers this spring, most of the attention focused on Goblin, the commercial debut from group lightning rod Tyler, The Creator. But the overstuffed shock-rap manifesto made for the harshest possible introduction to the young hip-hop collective. For those put off by the slow, scummy crawl of Tyler’s 75-minute therapy session, the rapper-producer duo MellowHype is a much friendlier alternative. Odd Future’s second commercial release, Blackenedwhite, is a brisk, instant-gratification rap record that better represents the crew’s M.O.
Originally posted for free download last fall, Blackenedwhite has been re-mastered and trimmed down for its re-release on Fat Possum, with five of its tracks swapped out for two new ones. While some of those cuts are missed, particularly the Earl Sweatshirt feature “Chordaroy,” the album’s brevity flatters MellowHype rapper Hodgy Beats, whose tightly packed verses work best in short exposures. Hodgy is Odd Future’s most personable lyricist, selling his rhymes with a bright voice and game enthusiasm, but he isn’t a singular, dominant presence like the gravel-growled Tyler or the pithy Earl. He’s also less interested in pushing buttons than his rape-and-mutilation-obsessed cohorts, preferring more traditional forms of rap debauchery like truancy, weed, and gunplay.
So it’s unsurprising that Blackenedwhite’s most depraved moment comes from Tyler himself, who goes on a cop-killing spree on “Fuck The Police.” In spite of its marvelous production from Left Brain, who shares Tyler’s ear for beautifully deformed grooves and Lex Luger’s gift for epileptic bangers, Blackenedwhite doesn’t boil over as maniacally as Goblin, and it never fully reaches that album’s reckless highs. But it plays well in a car, and you can enjoy it without having to reconcile its hatefulness, which is a more-than-fair tradeoff.