Tag Archives: odd future

Tyler, The Creator – Igor

13 Jul

It was always clear that Tyler, the Creator was talented. Out of the old Odd Future gang, despite his sort-of leadership of the crew, it was others like Earl Sweatshirt and Syd tha Kid and of course, the incomparable Frank Ocean that seemed to be the people to listen to. His first albums had enough in them to make you take notice, but their unfocused nature held them back, despite that being such a strong part of Tyler’s charm. His following was devoted, but you had to not only have a tolerance, but a desire, for the random.

Maturity has changed him though. His music is now much more fully developed and honestly much more interesting. Both lyrically and in the musical themes, he’s taken the sparseness of the old OFWGKTA days, fleshed it out fully and pruned some of the weirder things and the result is much stronger for it.

He still goes hard with songs like the excellent “NEW MAGIC WAND” but he’s also able to put in the much softer, but still wonderful, “GONE GONE / THANK YOU.” He’s still Tyler through and through. “EARFQUAKE” is unquestionably his and shows you why people have always been excited about what he makes, but “A BOY IS A GUN?” is also singular and exciting, but wholly different and being able to take that level of versatility and yet make music of this sustained quality is a major achievement.

Tyler, the Creator is still a misfit. The final song here is the winsome “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” It’s just that between this and Flower Boy, he’s developed it to the next stage. Now, he’s no longer the smart-but-weird kid at your school. He’s fully stepped into being the idiosyncratic genius instead.

Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

12 Jun


Earl Sweatshirt is busy making his own music. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is dark, honest and minimal in a way that is almost anti-commercial. It is also much harder than any of its peers. With his last album, Doris, he was already far in his own lane. Now, he has set up home there.

This is a confessional of an album. The stark beats perfectly frame his tales of depression and make his paranoia and pain even more jagged. He cuts through it with struts, going from “Focused on my chatter, ain’t as frantic as my thoughts/Lately I’ve been panicking a lot/Feeling like I’m stranded in a mob, scrambling for Xanax out the canister to pop” to “Fishy niggas stick to eating off of hooks/Say you eating, but we see you getting cooked, nigga” in the excellent “Grief” and from “And I’m low and I’m peakin/It’s cold in the deep end” to the anthemic “Ain’t no bitch in my DNA” in “DNA”, but the core is dark. It takes a lot from the artist to bare himself like this, and the fact that most don’t dare makes this all the more powerful.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside requires work from its listener but this is a person laid bare, and a person who doesn’t require effort is a person not worth listening to. This album is definitely worth listening to.


Earl Sweatshirt: Doris

22 Dec

It’s been a while since Earl Sweatshirt has been on a mic. His wordsmithing and flow is much of what made Odd Future into the sensation that they have become. Now, after a long stint at a Samoan retreat for at-risk teens, he is back, has moved from gut-provoking to insightful and in doing so released an excellent exception to this year of mediocre rap.

This is an album that unabashedly requires and rewards work from the listener. The first few times I heard it, it felt more monotonous than mellifluous to me. On repeated listens though, that monotony reveals itself to be deeper and more oppressive than at first blush. Rap has changed from this style of production, now it struts in suits instead of shuffling around, hands in pockets, in the underground. This album comes at you hard and strong the way rap should.

The deep and dark productions fit the deep and dark lyrics well. There are so many standout moments in the murkiness of the album. Earl absolutely destroys in Burgundy as he goes over how he’s struggling with being a commodity. Hoarse runs off a sick, shifting beat and absolutely dazzling wordplay to submerge and almost suffocate the listener. Chum drops you straight into a litany of family issues and leaves you to learn how to swim in it (It’s probably been twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless/And I just used to say I hate him in dishonest jest/When honestly I miss this nigga, like when I was six/And every time I got the chance to say it I would swallow it).

Additionally, the guest spots do incredible work. Vince Staples steals Hive from Earl and Frank Ocean does great work in the trippy Sunday. Big brother Tyler is unmistakeable in Sasquatch (Man, I suck now, I ain’t still dope (nope)/But Chris and Rihanna’s fuckin’ again so there’s still hope/Oh fuck, I went there, balling bitch, I’m Ben’s hair). My favorite though is the RZA dropping the hook in Molasses, which would fit in a Wu-Tang album even without him.

Doris is real rap. The kind of rap parents worry about and that gives kids who shouldn’t be listening anyway nightmares. Rap for people who want to think and talk. Rap so good that it’s broken. Rap you should listen to.


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