Though it has been a year since they catapulted to hip-hop’s limelight, the entire Odd Future gang haven’t appeared together musically on wax much during that span. In October, they put 12 Odd Future Songs, a follow up to 2010′s Radical, on iTunes, but the majority of the songs had been previously released. Now, fresh off of Earl Sweatshirt’s return home, the California collective is back with The OF Tape, Vol. 2.
All 11 members of the crew appear on The OF Tape, Vol. 2 (yes, even Earl), but never do they all show up on the same track. The closest thing is the ten minute album closer, “Oldie,” with Taco, Tyler, The Creator, Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Jasper Dolphin and Earl Sweatshirt, where each rapper gets a chance for some solo shine. The track is indicative of one of the album’s revelatory moments which are that, in fact, despite much of the hype being concentrated on a few core group members, many in the clan have some skills to offer.
Early on, Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats trade verses on the sharp “Bitches.” There technical tactics are on point here, but there are also times when members come off sounding like those unpolished kids in your high school trying to get their rap career off the ground by fitting a bunch of words together to sound impressive. On “50,” Hodgy kicks the straining opening lines, “I’m a lotta narcotics, flow aquatic atomic/The way I rhyme in Islamic promises, ignorance is common sense,” that come off sounding forced.
Mike G seems comfortable on his own on the year-old “Forest Green,” and The Internet (Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians) provide a change of pace with the jazzy R&B cut “Ya Know.” Budding star Frank Ocean steals the show whenever given the chance, as his brief appearances on “Analog 2″ and “Snow White” are lasting, while his solo joint, “White,” exhibits the vocal and songwriting consistency he’s put on display since dropping nostalga, ULTRA last year.
The lyrically maniacal content that’s been associated with some of the crew only shows up sparingly—particularly when Tyler, The Creator gets on a record. The de facto OF leader mentions accused child molester Jerry Sandusky on two separate songs, and makes plenty of zany pop culture references (Casey Anthony, Common) while discussing Tourette’s, snapping at fans, and smoking crack on “P.” Ultimately, Tyler shows an improvement from what he offered with last year’s Goblin.
With so many pieces and a few varying styles, an Odd Future compilation contains the components to come off disjointed and hard to digest. The OF Tape, Vol. 2, though, works within itself, and adds another project to the growing catalog of the collective. —Adam Fleischer