Odd Future
Of Tapes vol. 2

 Maybe the members of the outre L.A. rap collective Odd Future have mellowed just a tiny bit, or maybe slurs and violent imagery inevitably lose effect over time, but “The OF Tape Vol. 2,” the crew’s latest collection, isn’t quite as shocking as 2008’s “The Odd Future Tape,” or the works that have come in between. Fans of the crew’s sickest lyrics shouldn’t worry: Listening to the group is still like swimming through the mind of a hormonal teenager playing a Rated-M video game in the back of AP English class, especially when Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and ringleader Tyler, the Creator, have the reins.

Tracks such as “Real [EXPLETIVE],” “We Got [EXPLETIVE]” and “NY (Ned Flander),” which includes a line about Jerry Sandusky and the Pope hitting the club together, are the sort of awkward, twisted pieces that propelled Odd Future from obscurity. But that material, the group’s harshest critics may be surprised to learn, is balanced by a lot of simply gorgeous music.

“Ya Know,” from the Internet, the side project of Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians, is a trippy, lush, atmospheric dance track. Vocalist Frank Ocean, who even those unfamiliar with OF might know as the guy who opened Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne,” offers “White,” a soulful solo piece about his first love. On “Analog 2/Wheels 2,” Tyler is at the top of his game as a producer — he has said that the track was inspired by everything from N*E*R*D to Stevie Wonder, and that’s not just youthful boasting.

On album-closer “Oldie,” a ten-minute-plus posse cut (which features a verse from the elusive Earl Sweatshirt, whose semi-mysterious disappearance from the group has been the subject of much rap blog speculation and a “New Yorker” piece), Tyler ends everything with the line, “Just admit, not only are we talented/We’re rad as [EXPLETIVE].” Perhaps those who have been too offended by OF in the past to appreciate the crew’s gymnastic lyricism and sparse, beautiful production will finally be able to reach that conclusion.

Sarah Godfrey

Recommended Tracks

“Analog 2,” “White,” “Ya Know,” “ Oldie”