Is there any crew in the game that has perfected the art of the tag team like Odd Future has? The Golf Wang misfits have boasted subsidiary acts like EarlWolf, The Internet, & MellowHigh – among others, but none of those incarnations features as heavy traction as the duo of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain — collectively known as MellowHype. Their debut project BlackenedWhite received critical acclaim across the board, and their follow-up Numbers was strong enough to earn them a Top 10 rap album on the Billboard charts. But after a near-two year gap filled with a solo project from Hodgy Beats, and the inclusion of Domo Genesis in the spinoff group MellowHigh, no doubt fans were clamoring for the original band and on July 4, they delivered another project with the free album entitled INSA (I Need Some Answers).
Where Odd Future has stepped it up immensely on the last go-round in 2013 with all critically acclaimed releases from Tyler, The Creator (Wolf), Earl Sweatshirt (Doris) and The Internet (Feel Good), MellowHype’s INSA is a mixed bag of emotions standing beside the progressive aforementioned projects. Whereas Hodgy Beats injects a bit more of his own stories and strays from the extreme tones of early OF sound, the vision isn’t as vivid as one would hope for it to be. Revisiting their last LP Numbers, fans latched onto “La Bonita”, a much broader – yet bolder, approach to things for the independent duo. But the moody, quaint LP (clocking in at under 40 minutes) doesn’t have anything as radical to claim.
The high points are scattered through the LP, with the sinister – yet incredibly promising, lead record “Nowadays.” Neither Hodgy or LB slipping on either fronts, lyrically or production wise, boasting “See we used to be scavengers, now the world is ours” as he “spit that shit that them niggas shipping from Mexico.” “Nowadays” is a perfect marriage of high-energy, irregular flows on top of Left Brain’s methodical production. “FiFoFoFum,” which will receive a proper visual in it’s own right, is every bit as massive as it sounds with Left Brain’s gargantuan hook backed by a colossal knock in your speakers. Hodgy toys with a bit of an animated delivery on the track, a much welcomed departure from the albums dreary disposition at times.
The aptly titled-seventh track on the LP, “7″ documents Hodgy’s playboy antics and certainly lives up to the mellow and hype moniker as Hodgy’s fast-paced flow sounds perfectly at home over LB’s guitar-tinged beat, even grabbing some moments of riffing from Hodgy. Not too further down, “The Daze” keeps the easy listening trend going with hypnotizing uncredited vocals by The Internet’s Syd tha Kyd, the only appearance on the LP outside of the MellowHype tag team.
Unfortunately, INSA has more than it’s share of less memorable tracks. From it’s aggressive opening, Hodgy Beats’ full-frontal frantic assault is on full display with bars stacked on bars stacked on bars (coincidentally enough featuring a track named “Bars”), but nothing really sticks outside the album’s moody ambience with a few jolts of energy. It certainly would translate well during one of their raucous live shows, shooting themselves off a stage into a moshpit of fans like a human cannonball, but there’s more to be desired. Outside of a select few records, there are very few moments created on INSA.—Jameel Raeburn