It’s been four years since pesky rap kids Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All recorded a batch of vicious cuts on a computer microphone and blew their load all over the internet with the Odd Future Tape. In the meantime, the 11-strong Wolf Gang, led by Tyler, the Creator, have put noses out of joint with an endless gush of free albums on their Tumblr, gleefully adding rape, necrophilia and camp horrorcore brutality to the misogynist hip-hop template. So here’s the sequel and the Californian delinquents haven’t changed much after their millions of YouTube hits, MTV Awards and fawning broadsheet praise – it’s still mostly about blowjobs and weed, and you’re never more than 30 seconds away from a “bitch”. One big difference is its release on their own Odd Future Records – will fans shell out for a CD after 20-odd free albums on the web?
The most obvious leap over the prequel is its high(er) fidelity sound, with a similar sheen to Tyler’s 2011 album Goblin. Tyler and Left Brain split production, shifting gears between traditional boom bap drum loops, dusty strings and eerie piano motifs from the RZA stable; and hyperactive beat patterns and reedy synths that fall somewhere between ’80s video nasty soundtracks and Clams Casino’s hazy ‘based’ productions that get snapped up by A$AP Rocky and Lil B. Put simply, you could have a go at human beatboxing ‘NY (Ned Flander)’ or ‘Sam (Is Dead)’, but you’ll gob all over yourself if you try ‘Hcapd’ in the pub.
Tyler doesn’t nick all the strongest beats to rap over this time; Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis make a tight tag team, “clocking it like Flava Flav” on standouts like ‘Bitches’, ‘Lean’ and ‘Rella’. Mike G’s ‘Forest Green’ has been doing the rounds for a year or so, its handclapping pop swagger coming off like a crossover hit. Frank Ocean trips things up with his gloopy soul chorus in ‘Snow White’, and his Stevie Wonderisms on ‘White’ should’ve been dumped on his Nostalgia, ULTRA mixtape instead. The psych-soul cut ‘Ya Know’, featuring The Internet (Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians) is a more effective breather between all the chest-beating, but Taco and Jasper make a show of themselves on ‘We Got Bitches’, which sounds like a Mega Drive boss level with the two chancers bickering in the background over the control pad.
Wu-Tang comparisons have been thrown around over the past few years and Vol 2 wraps up with the restrained eight-man posse cut ‘Oldie’, snaking along like an after-thought from GZA’s Liquid Swords, and a few jousting, duelling and battle references that evoke the Shaolin forebears’ martial arts mythology. Prodigal son Earl Sweatshirt even returns for the 10-minute relay, after being banished to a reform school in Samoa for a year, admitting: “I spent a year Ferrisin’ and lost a little sanity.” It’s a rare moment of introspection from the camp; a hint of maturity that might surface on Vol 3. But until then, enjoy part 2. Bitch.