2012 has seen Odd Future become a formidable force and youth movement in Hip Hop culture. The clan that carries many smaller factions of talent within has given us the rap duo that is Mellowhype. Their release Numbers is a cool album that delivers a few noteworthy moments and proves that Hodgy Beats & Left Brain won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. However the album does at times feel like a continuation of an EP, with a cluster of tracks that are ultimately geared towards nothing.
Unlike their 2010 Yellow/White & 2011 BlackenedWhite, Mellowhype have adopted a cleaner sound sonically that has allowed them to produce a Neptune esque song in ‘La Bonita’. Now before you think I’m blaspheming about the sound quality and sheer dopeness of this track think about it. Odd Future as a collective has explicitly made their admiration for N.E.R.D and the Neptunes well known. So with Hodgy attempting his best falsetto towards the end, it’s easy to see the inspiration of the light funk sound that the Neptunes and a more widely known Pharrell have adopted on many songs before is well and truly reigning supreme on La Bonita.
Numbers opens strong with the song ‘Grill’ and continues with 65/Breakfast that are bass heavy tracks that rope the listener into the world that is Mellowhype. One of most anticipated tracks on the album comes in the form of the electronic high pitched Astro that features their OF brother Frank Ocean. The beat is menacing and plays right into the personas of the infamous clique as they proclaim ‘You Blink, and Wolf Gangs in this Bitch’ a
Despite a strong start, the album begins to waver as it progresses and the high kick in the door energy we experienced on BlackenedWhite is definitely missing. This in turn exposes the aimlessness of the project, as Hodgy raps but doesn’t always fit into the grove of Left Brains production and then offers up some verses that seem interchangeable with other songs situated on the tracklist. Whereas on their previous effort we were so enthralled by their dominating bravado’s and viewpoints on cuts like ‘Fuck the Police’ and ‘Loco’ that we as listeners took whatever energy it was they were putting out through the track . In other words, I don’t feel like jumping on any cars or smashing anything whilst listening to Numbers, I’m quite content with my hot chocolate throughout the listen.
All the best moments thereafter are unfortunately credited to guest appearances from their Odd Future members. Earl Sweatshirt steals the show on Left Brains guitar crafted ‘P2’. Also as Hodgy takes on the role of the main MC, Left Brains relaxed and laid back demeanour is missed as juxtaposition to Hodgys fast and serious flow. There’s something oddly calm about Numbers and it may be the fact that Hodgy & Left Brain are simply showing themselves off as both credible MCs and producers. As opposed to leaders of the counter culture phenomenon they initially get recognized for when they graced the scene a couple years ago.
Overall ‘Numbers’ is a cool rap album and will delight the indie rap listeners. Songs such as ‘Snare’, ‘666’ and ‘Under 2’are great records and regardless of the shaky middle where songs feel similar in subject and sound to the point of them possibly being interchangeable. Numbers is still a decent listen at worst and great bridge for Mellowhype as they continue to grow and capture the mainstream and if they continue to produce cuts similar to ‘La Bonita’ and‘65/Breakfast’ it won’t be long before radio has to endorse them as a viable sound for regular listeners.
Album picks: La Bonita, 65/Breakfast, Astro, P2 Feat Earl Sweatshirt.