I don’t think I’ve ever written a review to an album I know every word to by heart, but blame that on procrastination. I was introduced to Tyler through Space Age Hustle and Tumblin’ Erb on the same night, sometime back in July. EARL was the first song I heard from the young ensemble, followed by VCR. I’m sure this is a similar story for many of OFWGKTA’s fanbase, and these two songs exemplify so much of Odd Future’s aesthetic. But, they don’t entirely. There are still elements that’re untouched; the coke-relapsed ODBisms, the Slug-esque dedications to females, the heavy Neptunes-influenced penchant for creating sub-pop records that teeter between amateurish genius and professional absurdity.
BASTARD represents all of these things, and then some. How many rap albums do you know that open with a tirade on hip-hop blogs, followed by a piano-laden track devoid of a drum machine? Bastard’s self-titled intro is one of the most popular songs from the album, and for good reason; it packs more evil than you can fit inside a Jan-Sport. Every single word on this six minute track is said with such malicious-intent, yet delivered from the perspective of a young man who is clearly using this album as a form of self-therapy. I honestly couldn’t name too many songs that touch on the same real life, clinically-depressed vibe that this song carries, without bordering on borderline corniness in the form of Joe Budden (and I love Joey’s old shit, but even in his prime he was never capable of expressing his feelings in such a clever, yet intensely blunt manner). The emo-nature of this song is very tongue in cheek, yet the feelings expressed are genuine. Tyler’s that funny, naturally charismatic kid in class who shies away from his peers because his life has left his far too scarred and untrusting, nearly turning him into a sociopath in the process.
Bitches like Tia Landry/watching Billy & Mandy/motherfuckers wanna be odd, but you CAN’T BE/sit the fuck down, all you old niggas stand me. Faggot. Tyler is a product of too much TGIF as a child and too much Adult Swim as an adolescent; someone who could honestly be content eating some frozen pizza in his boxers while channel flipping between Robot Chicken and Fresh Prince, coming up with some lyrics for his next song in the process. In other words, he’s the rap-nerds’ everyman; the embodiment of all of us, thrown into a gangly young man with the voice of Darth Vader, facial gestures of the Undertaker, and the musical talent of Pharrell Williams and Daniel Dumile in their prime. Seven is the perfect example of this, as is the Pitchfork-endorsed Parade, which features some of the most profound production of anything I’ve heard in years. Consisting wind-chimes, menacing synths, and Tyler distaste of the Twilight franchise, Tyler spits knowledge far beyond his years (good kids make bad grown ups) while maintaining his corrupted-innocence perspective.
One thing that can’t be ignored here, or in any of the Odd Future’s catalogue, is their love of the promethazine & codeine-enhanced music that DJ Screw originated. In a year where witchhouse has rose to blog-prominence and drawn considerable attention because of what it owes to C&S music, the real stars of this C&S revival are the Odd Future collective. Their resident lean-drinker, Mike G, has given the screw-treatment to quite a few of the group’s singles (and screwed the entirety of this very album), but that’s not where the homage to Robert Earl Davis stops. The regular-tempo versions of at least half these songs feature slowed vocals, giving the album an even more ominous tone, if that’s even possible. When Tyler’s not manipulating his voice to sound like Big Pokey, he’s also using the same helium high-pitched flow that Madlib uses under his Quasimoto alias, as heard on the third verse of Jack & The Beanstalk. The range of influences that Tyler has is utterly ridiculous; he covers so many different spectrums of the genre (and reaches outside of it more often than not), to the point that you’d be hard pressed to find anyone, fan or artist, with a playlist as open-minded and diverse as Wolf Haley’s. From Slow It Down to Pigs Fly to the second half of VCR’s (dubbed Wheels), the syrupy yet blunted aspects of this album are as refreshing as a cold glass of orange juice with some eggs.
Most of the tracks here touch on Ace’s various female problems, but perhaps none more so than Blow and Sarah, two tracks which share a lot of qualities but are nearly polar opposites. Blow is a love letter of sorts, although if it’s written to Tyler’s various rape victims or heavy cocaina is all up to interpretation. I remember reading that Tyler created an edited version of this song because he wanted to hear what it’d sound like on the radio, and for good reason; this song features a chorus that’s irressistably catchy, in spite of or perhaps due to how obscene it is. Sarah is similar from an instrumental stand-point, but this is essentially Tyler’s Lucy Ford mixed with some Kim for good measure. Except I don’t rememer either of those songs ending with our disturbed Travis Bickle of a narrator offing himself, but hey.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any rap clinics being put on here, though; both AssMilk (featuring his EarlWolf counterpart) and French! (featuring Hodgy) are bangers full of quotables for days. AssMilk especially, as Tyler and Earl go back and forth for a good four minutes spitting some of the most disturbing lyrics this side of Eminem on Rawkus; reinincarnation of ‘98 Eminem indeed. I would say that this is the type of music you don’t want to play in front of your girlfriend, but in 2010, judging by all the potential Odd Future groupies, women’re more intrigued with being gagged up and raped than ever. French features Digiorno’s, hormones, and pornos. My average Saturday night.
The ridiculously swagged-the-fuck-out anthem, Tina, features hypemen Taco and Jasper, who provide so much energy that this track is ready to spontaneously combust at any second. Also, Taco eats fucking chips on record. That’s just fucking swag. I dunno what to say about this record but BITCHES. HOES. WEAVES. LEATHER JACKETS.
Inglorious closes the album, and it’s just such a sincere closer. Tyler discusses how his mother played his surrogate father, an easily relatable tale for any of us who grew up in a single-parent enviornment with little to no involvement from the bum/slut that left. It’s unlike pretty much everything else on the record, and is endearing in ways that I can’t fully express in text.
That’s Bastard, an album that’s as great as anything released in the last five years or so, and probably one of the most impressive hip-hop debuts you’ll ever hear. If you don’t like that, well, FUCK YOU.