Things have changed quite a bit for Odd Future since they released “The Odd Future Tape”, back in 2008. On their online photo diary Golf Wang, the pictures of skate afternoons and fast food feasts are now intertwined with meetings with Kanye West and Terry Richardson (to whom they even dedicate a snub in the recent video of “Oldie”), mass concerts and trips in private jets. A meteoric ascent - driven by their intelligent use of the new dynamics in the industry - making them exemplary 2.0 music managers. Now, they have a clothing brand, a label and friends in high places, but what about the music?
The first thing you hear on “OF Tape Vol.2” is that the shock factor of the first collective release and other major outings by individual band members, such as “Bastard” (Tyler, The Creator) and “EARL” (Earl Sweatshirt), is gone. It's possible we've grown accustomed to their tales of ultra-violence and flashes of psychopath testosterone, or maybe it's a conscious move on their part. Because, judging from many of the tracks on this release, the group is trying to go deeper into their universe, without necessarily emphasising the more disturbing aspects of their sound. That would surely be a dead-end street - and a lack of perspective, irony and self-consciousness isn't one of the band's shortcomings.
Though the sulphuric lyrics and dark beats are still dominant, it's obvious that the musical component of their compositions has gained weight, and that the album as a whole oozes a will to evolve without betraying their original zeitgeist. But the most important thing about this predisposition of looking forward is that, in general, the members of the collective are in better shape than ever. Tracks like “Bitches” and “Doms” show us the best version of the somewhat underestimated Domo Genesis, “Forest Green” mixes one of Left Brain's best ever beats with an increasingly spot-on Mike G, the impressive “Rella” takes the apocalyptic aspect to its limits with its futuristic production, and “Lean” shows Hodgy Beats' most profound side. However, some of the best moments on the compilation are the stylistic escapades by The Internet and the eternally inspired Frank Ocean. The former contribute with “Ya Know”, a magnetic galactic funk piece drenched in silkily sensual electronica. Ocean, in his turn, once again proves he's one of the vocalists who will rule R&B in the future, in the two introspective minutes of delicate jazz of “White”, his only solo contribution. On the other hand, there are some less inspired moments that don't contribute anything particularly new, like “50”, “NY (Ned Flander)” and “We Got Bitches”, which make the final result somewhat irregular.
A special mention, nevertheless, for “Analog 2” and “Oldie”, clearly the two highlights of the release. The former is possibly Tyler, The Creator's best production to date. Introspective vocals, intricate rhythms and psych-jazz atmospheres over which Tyler's raspy flow, much calmer than usual, contrasts with the softness contributed by Ocean and Syd - giving way to one of the most personal and evocative moments the collective have ever delivered. “Oldie”, in its part, could be the band's ultimate posse cut, like “Triumph” and “Protect Ya Neck” were for Wu-Tang. Over a 90s rap beat and with an instant classic quality, each of the verses show the separate band members in full force; including the recently returned Earl, clearly the man who, with Tyler and Frank Ocean, should lead the group into the future. A future which - with “OF Tape Vol.2” - is starting now.