Odd Future as a collective have always put out the message that they frankly don’t care how they are viewed by critics, fans, and the general population alike. Shock value lyrics and deeply-rooted cynicism are peppered throughout all of their releases and coupled with their innovative and off-kilter production, they are at the very least worthy of all the talk that they have garnered the past several years. With that being said, it doesn’t change the reality of the actual music, which ranges from incredibly impressive to just plain mediocre. 12 Odd Future Songs,is a mixtape giving listeners a look at the gamut of rappers and styles that they each embody. In their quest to be as different as they can from every other hip-hop collective, they occasionally stumble across greatness and also take some ill-advised turns. It is easy to take the vitriolic lyrics at face value and make the argument that the superfluous swearing are aimed at a younger audience, but when the listener digs through the already impressive discography of the members involved, they will find creative producers and unique MCs.
The album starts off with “Bastard”, a Tyler, the Creator track from the same titled album. The track is a personal narrative rapped over an eerie piano and synth tracking, and immediately proves that depth is not beyond the Odd Future’s leader. The last lines of the song sum up the rapper’s youthful pent-up anger:
The following track, entitled “67” boasts one of the strongest tracks of the collection of odds and ends here. MellowHype is a collaboration between Hodgy Beats (rapper) and Left Brain (producer), and this track is possibly the best output from these two. Hodgy Beats took an unnaturally serious tone, which matches the incredibly expansive beat supplied by Left Brain. The solemn backing vocals help the song transcend into subject matter that is not touched on very much by the OF members. It soon becomes obvious through the release that the music is just created for listeners addled with ADD, as it goes from the dreamy electronica of “But She’s Not My Lover” to the bass-heavy banger of “Bankrolls”. It doesn’t necessarily make 12 Odd Future Songs a bad release, but rather just makes it much more difficult to enjoy it all the way through as a collective effort. Mike G makes a noteworthy appearance on the album with his song “King”, an incredibly unique track that is dedicated to the horror writer Stephen King, making a myriad of excellent references to his works of writing.
With so many strong songs on this release, there are still a few that fall short of enjoyable. Domo Genesis’ track “Steamroller” plods along with an uninspired beat and even less inspired lyrics, and “Rok Rok” is laughably bad compared to the other two tracks contributed by MellowHype. “French” is a nonsensical track that Tyler and Hodgy seemed to create just to be gleefully profane, and the synth line in the beat seems recycled compared to the creative ones that dominate the great songs on here. The reality of this release is that Odd Future are collectively creating music that they want to, and there are no rules to what they decide to create. For people that have never listened to them, this is the perfect release to decide if Odd Future’s particular brand of profane-laden, strange music is for them or not. As it stands, this is a strong collection of songs from a group of irreverent young MCs that are criticized far more than they should be.
1. Bastard- Tyler, the Creator
2. 67- MellowHype
3. Forest Green- Mike G
4. Welcome Home (featuring Tyler, the Creator and Casey Veggies)- Jet Age of Tomorrow
5. French (featuring Hodgy Beats)- Tyler, the Creator
6. Rolling Papers (featuring Tyler, the Creator)- Domo Genesis
7. King- Mike G
8. Bankrolls- MellowHype
9. But She’s Not My Lover- Jet Age of Tomorrow
10. Vcr- Tyler, the Creator
11. Steam Roller (featuring Hodgy Beats and Frank Ocean)- Domo Genesis
12. Rok Rok- MellowHype
13. They Say (featuring Tay Walker)- The Internet