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MellowHigh

MellowHigh

(Odd Future; US: 31 Oct 2013; UK: 31 Oct 2013)

“I’m the exterminator, my eyes low and red like the Terminator / Arnold Schwartzenegger perpetrator / pepper spraying the furtherest hater…I’m smoking and blowing gators.” Yep, that’s the way that MellowHigh, one of many Odd Future collectives, roll. Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats prove to be equally unapologetic in tone to their Odd Future colleagues (Left Brain, a member as well, produces). Throughout MellowHigh, the rebellious group seems focused on shallower aspects of life, including weed, money, and sex. Additionally, plenty of trash talk referencing violence, the hood, and being the best MC are common fare. For the most part, the effort works, but lyrically, MellowHigh don’t stifle the competition with innovativeness. 


“Goon’n” kicks off MellowHigh blazingly hot with dark, ear-catching production and bold rhymes. Domo confidently spits “We gonna be standing here ’til your hype dies / a top of a mountain full of pride / making all you…look bite size.”  Hodgy has “stars in his eyes”, literally and figuratively, relaying “Mellow High, three men, we got weed… we live movies, that’s dream work.”  Cockiness continues well into second consecutive standout “Air”, finding Domo asking “Pass the tree, and watch me Hulk smash the beat / ask for beef, don’t end up as a casualty…” while Hodgy elevates himself as rap’s savior, calling other MCs’s raps “weak”. The opening duo of tracks succeed because they exhibit lofty ambition coupled with superb underground rap production cues. 


After a hot start, “Yu” continues down the weed-driven path, perhaps for worse: “I’m just tryna smoke my weed / watch me as I’m floatin’ and I’m fallin’…”.  Ultimately, “Yu” feels like a rewrite over-reliant on weed as its inspiration. Recreational marijuana usage has become the norm and is overexposed in hip-hop circles, so repetitive reference and allusion fails to carry great weight. A remix of “Yu”, featuring Odd Future leader Tyler, The Creator, appears at the tail-end of MellowHigh, but seems unnecessary. Follow-up “Extinguisher” is much better rounded and more intriguing, amped up by its old-school hip-hop production. Hodgy gobbles up and spits out fake gangstas while Domo writes off the competition and adheres to Drake’s philosophy of “no new friends”. 


On “Nobody”, MellowHigh make the statement that they can do whatever they want to. Chocked-full of intensifying f-bombs and countless lyrical middle fingers, “Nobody” is definitely irresponsible, but at least enjoyably so. Follow-up “Self Titled” takes a bit of a back step, but not without alluding to Wolfgang (“Homie the wolves in this spot so hungry”). MellowHigh bounce back respectably on “Troublesome”, which has more substance, albeit in relation to the streets and making means to ends. While smoking weed is justified,  it’s also not viewed as a solution: “I say we work to die, smoking eases aggravations / but I got to learn patience, and quit running, just face it / give money to the homeless while I”m pumping gas stations…” A love story it ain’t, but MellowHigh do make a point. 


“Get’n Drunk” is a generic rap track you can get anywhere at anytime. Hodgy shamefully turns weed into a lady, rapping “I sin and break down the Mary Jane and then I burn her / she ain’t nothing but a ho, pass it to my left, Turner / Domo hit the roach and get sentenced for murder…”  “Roofless” is a better showing, despite its disclaimer that it thrives upon spineless violence. “High Life” is less in-your-face where violence is concerned, receiving welcome assists from Curren$y and Smoke DZA. Lyrics like “With the game I got ho with the pimp hand / Loud weed made me wish I had a kick stand” (Domo), and “Cleaned up the whole summer and I”m bout to do the winter / Vacation and online banking every second is a new QuickPay alert (Smoke DZA), help make “HighLife” notable.


“Cold World” brings in Earl Sweatshirt and Remy Banks, both proving to be worthy assets. Sweatshirt shines, epitomizing the underground rap sentiment: “Strong arm, steady swearing I could tear a mattress / track slapping ‘em silly as Tom and Jerry tactics.” Penultimate number “Cigarillo” seems like a waste for sure, while closer, “Yu Remix” is redundant for the most part. 
 
All said and done, MellowHigh has both its moments as well as its flaws. There are definitely one too many weed references, but there is also plenty of swagger here as well. Does MellowHigh back up their confidence soundly? Eh, they’ll need a few more years in the game and more transcendent rhymes to successfully conquer completely. MellowHigh isn’t a bad start, but it’s not exactly a tour de force either.

Rating:

Brent Faulkner is a self-described ultimate music enthusiast. Interested in all facets of music, Faulkner is a music educator, composer, and music journalist amongst other things.


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