Unless you’ve been living under a sound-proof rock, you’re aware the past five months have seen an explosion of major works from big name rap and hip-hop artists.
In June, Kanye West dropped “Yeezus,” a powerhouse of abrasion and industrial beats compounded by lyrics oozing self-confidence and rugged existentialism, featuring songs like “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves.”
A month later, Jay-Z released “Magna Carta… Holy Grail,” which featured a mix of smooth instrumentals, catchy hooks from Timberlake, and more “yeah’s” and “uh-huh’s” than actual purposeful lyrics. In September it was Drake’s turn when he dropped “Nothing Was the Same,” which uses modern, off-beat ballads as a focal introduction to soft, yet intense hooks, showcasing Drake’s unique rapping style seen in hits like “Too Much” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home (feat. Majid Jordan).”
Finally, just this month, Eminem released “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” marking a return to the original Eminem: songs driven by robust instrumental diversity, the rapper’s second-to-none flow, and ridiculous wordplay, highlighted in instant attention grabbers like “Rap God” and “Survival.”
With all these big name rap album drops, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce, but the album you probably haven’t listened to, but should, is the Mellowhigh’s self-titled debut album.
Odd Future has cranked out a wide arrange of well-known artists, ranging from Frank Ocean with his sensuous-smooth R&B, to front men Tyler, the Creator, and Earl Sweatshirt with their somber, more alternative raps. But three people in the group you probably haven’t heard of decided to start a serious side project, which they called Mellowhigh. This group features the lyrical prowess of Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis, and the production and DJ value of Left Brain. Despite originating from a group steeped in criticism and controversy, Mellowhigh have successfully produced their first studio album, and it is completely dope.
The album predominantly revolves around an overarching fondness for fun raps with unconventional beats that target two specific groups of listeners: those who want something out of the mainstream, and those who appreciate the affects of marijuana. The musical accompaniment alternates between soft and intense but always focuses on the performers. Hodgy and Domo work well together by, as cliché as it may sound, completing each other. The first flows through lyrics like silk, while the second dishes out wordplay that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle — it almost makes you forget that they are mostly just rapping about drugs and alcohol. In “Yu,” the two convey their carefree lifestyle via a catchy hook by Domo and a relaxing stream of thought-provoking rap overlaid by simple piano chords. “Extinguisher” exudes swagger with lyrics like, “Fuck is competition? Nobody poppin’ hot as me, I’m running shit, several miles ahead and still ain’t stopped to breathe,” as the Mellowhigh leadsmen crank up the braggadocio to convey their success and skill. The album also features their Odd Future friends, Tyler and Earl, in songs like “Remix” and “Cold World,” lending at least a little more star power vibe and media hype to the album.
“Mellowhigh” is far from perfect. Some of the songs are flat out noisy, repetitive, and unpleasant to listen to. In truth, Left Brain literally does next to nothing for the album. More conservative hip-hop and rap listeners will write it off as offensive and incompetent. However, the positive aspects of the album more than make up for the bad. Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats have proven they can handle a genre that is becoming more competitive everyday by simply not giving a fuck. They live the way they want to live, make music they would listen to, stay true to themselves, and enjoy as much marijuana as they can.
If you’re sick of listening to Waka, Rick, or Chainz and want to appreciate actual talent, or perhaps you want great background music for your next vape sesh, you can’t go wrong with Mellowhigh.
Lambert is a member of the class of 2017.