There’s a joke to be made about piracy here of the day: Tyler, The Creator, that loveable rap scamp/horrific mysoginist (depending on your disposition), just posted this photo on his Instagram with the caption “BOUT TO STEAL THIS SHIT”. Eagle eyed readers will see that it’s in fact a copy of his just-released third album Wolf tucked into his jeans. In these days of The Pirate Bay, rock & roll antics have devolved a little.
It’s fair to say that the hype, controversy and drama surrounding Odd Future, especially Tyler, the Creator, peaked in summer 2012 and has certainly quietened down now. This is pretty bleak considering that Wolf may be Tyler, the Creator’s best effort yet. Gone are the misogynistic and downright awful lyrics about kidnapping and raping women! They’ve been replaced by yet more rapping about father problems, troubled teenagers and a story set in Camp Flog Gnaw – Tyler’s imaginary summer camp. In the smooth piano led intro Wolf asks Samuel (both personas of Tyler’s) “so you guys are into jazz?”, letting us know that Wolf is going to be all about jazzy beats and crooning over twinkly piano chords, something a million miles away from the angry and aggressive Tyler featured in songs like “Radicals”.
A highlight of the album is the confessional “Colossus”where Tyler raps about trying to enjoy a nice day at a theme park but ends up being hounded by a very obsessive fan – it’s all very “Stan” by Eminem – but much more enjoyable because it’s backed up by simple piano chords and what sounds like a glockenspiel! The album could almost be his Summer Camp Mix for 2013, what with it’s summery theme and soulful tracks like “Treehome95” that go down a Noughties R&B route, a genre that Tyler is a huge fan of. It’s almost as if Wolf pays homage to everything Tyler enjoys outside of rap music – there’s jazzy piano, an appearance from Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman on “TRASHWANG”, quite a few appearances from Odd Future’s resident crooner Frank Ocean, a Toro Y Moi reference and that’s not all! Lætitia Sadier from Stereolab pops up in “Partyisntover” to make some s’mores by the camp fire; Pharrell and Nas also manage to contribute a few verses too, no big deal.
The only thing that really grates on me about Wolf is “Tamale” – it’s an obvious reminder that Tyler hasn’t totally left his childish behaviour behind but I’m just left feeling a bit…annoyed and wishing it wasn’t on there at all. One annoying track aside, the rest of the album is summery and lush, backed by an interesting story about rivalling teenage boys at a summer camp. Tyler’s creativity and innovative beats really shine through on Wolf which is all a bit disheartening as it leaked a few days before the release date and the internet barely batted a collective eyelid. Wolf is possibly Tyler’s most diverse and interesting release to date and he’s proved that he doesn’t need to rely on controversial subject matter or aggressive beats to produce a brilliant rap album.
Overkill of the day: So, Mr. T. Creator has returned. Remember him? Course you do; Goblin, Odd Future, “Yonkers”, homophobia, controversy, a million and one think-piece blog posts about what he means in modern music, yadda yadda. Well after being delayed by The OF Tape Vol. 2, his second album Wolf is just about ready for release with three different covers. There’s the main ’90s-esque portait one, the extreeeeeme close-up alternate artwork, and the rather innocent looking Mark Ryden-illustrated deluxe edition. The album itself is released on April 2nd; early feedback from Tyler indicated it would be entirely instrumental, but no such confirmation. The first video from the LP is set to debut on Oddfuture.com at midnight EST, so keep an eye out for it.
Since the infamous Earl returned to Odd Future earlier this year, he’s been a little quiet. An appearance on The OF Tape Vol. 2, and a guest verse on Frank Ocean’s album, and that’s it. Quite a slow trickle of output for a rapper hailed as one of the best of his generation by quite a number of people, but might that be ready to change now? This cut appeared on Odd Future’s blog earlier, and it’s pretty damn good. The simple, tumbling piano beat is excellent, and the subject matter is quite personal, compared the gruesome imagery in some of Earl’s older material. One line goes “Only been back a week and already feel like calling it quits”; could this be signalling the end of young Mr Sweatshirt?
Listen: Frank Ocean - Blue Whale
In which Frocean shows us he’s not only capable of producing best-of-the-year quality albums (hello Channel, Orange!), he can also rap better than roughly 60% of OFWGKTA. “Blue Whale” is so chilled out, what you’d expect to shuffle on as the sun’s just about to set at a well-soundtracked BBQ. Pity we’ve just drifted into autumn, and have to wait eleven months for that moment.
We’re two thirds of the way through the year, so with only four months left until list-omania kicks into full gear, here are what you lot have been loving so far in the past eight months
- Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
- Death Grips - The Money Store
- Sigur Ros - Valtari
- Killer Mike - RAP Music
- El-P - Cancer For Cure
- Hot Chip - In Our Heads
- Japandroids - Celebration Rock
- Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble
- Burial - Kindred
- Crocodiles - Endless Flowers
- Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood Of Colour
- Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
- Lambchop - Mr M
- OFWGKTA - The OF Tape Vol 2
- Django Django - Django Django
- Beach House - Bleach
- Justin Bieber - Believe
- Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
- Grimes - Visions
- John Talabot - Fin
- Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
- The Cribs - In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
- The Maccabees - Given To The Wild
- Best Coast - The Only Place
You can vote throughout the year, and multiple times, for your favourite album, track, EP, film, TV show, game, trailer, music video and artwork. Go to http://hitsvilleuk.tumblr.com/ask
LISTEN/// FRANK OCEAN - BAD RELIGION
As a precursor to our review of Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange, here’s one of the many many highlights of the record. If this doesn’t convince you that the Louisiana-born, Cali-based singer isn’t a colossal talent and bonafide star in the making, nothing will.
NEWS/// FRANK OCEAN RELEASES ALBUM EARLY, STREAMS ONLINE
The wait is over, no more pesky days to pass until we can hear Frocean’s debut album proper. The OF crooner has brought forward the digital release of Channel Orange, supposed to be released on July 16th, to today. The record is also streaming for free on Ocean’s blog, so go listen to it right this second, then buy it several times. We’ll have a review up soon.
LISTEN/// NEW FRANK OCEAN - SWEET LIFE
Frocean’s first track since “Pyramids” and that major announcement. This one’s got soul and summer written all over it. Just over a week ‘til Channel Orange drops, it’s gonna be a good’un.