23
Apr
12

I ♥ Tuesdays Vol. 17

Due to an impromptu trip to Hong Kong, I’ve had far less time to review new material dropping this week.  The release schedule is stacked in quantity, but lacking in quality.  Fortunately, another free Web release arrived last Friday, just in time to salvage an otherwise dry week.

Early in 2011, no crew in hip-hop was generating buzz like Odd Future Wolf Gang.  Fast forward a year, and the buzz has quieted substantially.  Though critics have pointed to their novelty lyrical content as the cause for the crew’s decreasing visibility, it could be said that their collective lack of productivity, especially when compared with OF’s win streak in the previous 18 month stretch, could be responsible.  Now, with the OF Tape Vol. 2 slated for March 20, Tyler’s sophomore effort Wolf due some 8 weeks later, Frank Ocean’s next joint apparently in the works, and the debut of their Adult Swim variety program Loiter Squad approaching the Wolf Gang looks to get people talking again.  

Over the weekend, Hodgy Beats forcefully sparked the conversation with his Untitled EP.  By reaching out to a new collection of producers, Hodgy is afforded the chance to show off an unseen side of his game.  The opener “Bullshittin'” uncovers Hodgy finding a rare comfort zone on Juicy J’s rolling drums, showing significant improvement to his delivery and cadence since precious MellowHype work with Left Brain.  A pair of offerings from The Alchemist (“Cookie Coma,” “In a Dream”) bear little resemblance to the two beats contributed by Flying Lotus (“Lamented,” “Lately”), but Hodgy displays equally impressive technique over the distinct work of both producers.  Even with work from an impressive cast of established beat makers, the two highlight joints are both produced by relative newcomer Thelonious Martin.  To say the kid did his thing on these beats would be understating.  “Ave.” features gorgeously haunting piano stabs and drums that manage to ride a thin line between snappy and feathery, while “If Heaven Is a Ghetto” is eerily reminiscent of some of J Dilla’s work from ’96 to ’98.  All the while, Hodgy’s lyrics maintain a level of poignancy rarely displayed in previous efforts.

Not that I haven’t enjoyed Hodgy’s work with Left Brain in the past, but a varied cast of producers really seems to have OF’s most overlooked emcee in his zone.  

It’s a great start to a stretch that will largely determine OFWGKTA’s long term status in the industry.  If Tyler and company hope to fight off “flash in the pan” criticisms, they must continue to show growth with upcoming projects.  I’m not looking for the Wolf Gang to completely abandon the often-absurd subject matter of earlier work; but it goes without saying that, in the current ADHD climate, they can’t survive on their current formula to generate interest forever.

And what of Earl?  Perhaps the most interesting story line OF saga is the status of recently-liberated wunderkind Earl Sweatshirt.  Earl is home and, according to his Twitter feed, working alongside artists like Santigold and James Pants.  Aside from random contact with OF extended family, there is little to suggest Earl will be back in the Wolf Gang fold anytime soon.  Here’s hoping any drama is short lived, because there isn’t much material out there as good as Young Sweatshirt on a Tyler beat.

As we move into March, the release schedule continues to look rather bleak for the final month of 2012’s first quarter.  If the first two months of the year offer any indication, DatPiff and Bandcamp are poised be better sources of new hip-hop than HMV or Best Buy. Until next week, it’s The Blast, ya’ll.

Noakes

Originally published February 28, 2012 at theblast-blog.com

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