The Odd Future factory (also known for reinventing hip hop, on its last legs and with rhymes that have seemed worn out of late) delivers a new album. Or almost. Because, in fact, “BlackenedWhite”, the second effort by MellowHype, was released on 31st October last year, coinciding with Halloween, a 100% Odd Future-friendly event. The novelty lies in its remastering by Fat Possum, a label based in Mississippi, that’s grown up on blues and looked at different artists over the past few years, such as The Black Keys, Andrew Bird and the ultra-dark duo we’re talking about here. With “BlackenedWhite”, Left Brain, beatmaker and producer of the album, and Hodgy Beats, the lyricist, situate themselves at the top of the new wave of west coast hip-hop.
The new version of the album comes with certain changes and some gaps. For starters, tracks like “Chordaroy” are missing. Apparently, Earl Sweatshirt hasn’t given permission to use his voice. Although, let’s be honest, it could be that his mother no longer allows the seventeen-year-old to bellow obscenities with his little friends. Also missing are “Hell”, “Stripclub”, “Gram”, “Based” and “Loco”, a brilliant track thanks to the original sample of “Chanson d’Un Tour D’Hiver” by Cortex, a band also used in a genius way by Madlib (maybe it’s a west coast thing?). Of course, among the eleven tracks plus the bonus presentation single, “Right Here”, can be found, almost naive sounding though with crude lyrics, a declaration of intent by the crew; and “64”, a superb track powerful enough to be chosen for their first video and representative of the dark hip hop of this duo in particular, and Odd Future in general. The expression “a picture paints a thousand words” is perfect for the chain of images accompanying this string of dark beats, slow and robust. A video that honours the upside down cross on the sleeve art, in which blind priests are rubbing up to snakes in a coffin, resurrecting. “Primo”, the closing track has a brilliant melody, though the lyrics bring enough darkness as the seconds go by, like a slowly rewinding tape in slow motion.
“BlackenedWhite” also features collaborations with other members of Odd Future, a clear example of the fact that quantity isn’t always clashing with quality. Nor with youth, because Frank Ocean, collaborating on the somewhat synthetic “Rico”, is the old guy of the pack, at 23. Domo Genesis appears on the impeccably produced “Brain”. And, of course, Tyler, The Creator, the Odd Future capo, is there, leaving his mark on “Fuck The Police”, a an ear-splitting, gaunt and cheeky track that, without forgetting about the crew’s dark side, take on the shape of the great hip hop classics.
MellowHype contains an incredible amount of juicy ideas. Before their brains explode with productivity, they plan to release new material in 2012 under the title “Numbers”. We don’t know if those numbers will be Satanic, but it would definitely be very fitting for them.