I respect OFWGKTA. For a bunch of juvenile delinquents, they certainly know how to market their bat-shit material. MellowHype’s reissue of BlackenedWhite makes no exception: this is an already-good collection of songs that, for better or worse, reshapes its 2010 tracklisting. Notwithstanding the record’s subtle disappointments, it’s a treat for diehard followers.
BlackenedWhite turns traditional hip-hop elements into something much weirder. While the album transcends the radio-friendliness of Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers and the street-cred of Lil Wayne’s mixtapes, it nevertheless emphasizes the genre’s most accustomed elements – gunshot sounds, rhymes about weed, hatred towards the police, etc. Because of this, BlackenedWhite comes off as more familiar than Tyler the Creator’s Goblin – a record criticized for its over-the-top narratives. Hodgy Beats and Left Brain never take themselves too seriously to the point where it comes off as excessive or obnoxious. Rather, they present themselves as Odd Future’s most laid-back members.
But there’s nothing mellow about MellowHype’s music. As expected from Odd Future, the album features a plethora of ominous lyrics that aim to shock the senses. In “64,” Hodgy Beats mixes lines about school (“Fuck being poor and return to the school and shoot it up”) with rhymes about triple-six roman numerals and funerals. In “Loaded” Hodgie raps about having sex with a girl in the forest like “mother nature and Bambi.” Left Brain provides the perfect soundtrack by creating equally-sinister beats and unnerving atmospheres. It’s important not to forget that MellowHype is a duo, and a fine one at that – where the combination of producer and rapper form a seamless uniformity. Like “Brain,” “Loaded,” and “64,” there’s a kind of conversation created by the way Hodgy flows and the way Left Brain melodizes. When Hodgy states “Left Brain is my Lex Luger”on “IGotAGun,” you can’t help but believe him.
Lyrically, Hodgy is a good rapper at best. He doesn’t have the charismatic flow nor the imaginative lyricism of his peers to sustain a full-length LP, and while the record features a handful of guest appearances, it certainly lacks the catchy hooks and memorable lines of the group’s best work (perhaps with the exception of “64” and “Gunsounds”). Due to weaker songs being smacked in between good ones (do we really need another “Fuck The Police”?), it’s also the kind of record that’s better listened to in small doses. The album’s biggest letdown, however, is the absence of “Loco,” “Chordaroy,” and “Hell” – some of the original version’s weirdest and best tracks.
With snappier sounds and clearer EQs, the tracks on BlackenedWhite sound much crisper than anything on Goblin – a record that sounded too muddy for its own good. It certainly comes off as the better-mastered product. But, the album lacks anything worth awing over. It’s ultimately a “pretty good” hip-hop record. Nothing more, nothing less.
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