The Odd Future camp, whether anyone likes it or not, work their asses off. Since 2010, this seemingly young and nonchalant group of ne’erdowells have produced a bunch of music too devilish or sexist to outwardly enjoy and endorse, turned it into a cultural phenomenon, toured nonstop like a metal band in the ’80s, and solidified a place in hip hop for years to come.
Domo Genesis, the crew’s resident stoner-rap figurehead, has not only been a part of that radical history, but may not have successfully pulled off No Idols without his artistic growth from touring and such a credible background. After all, West-coast veteran The Alchemist doesn’t suit the bill as a guy who simply signs up to produce full projects for just anybody.
Although the constant, ruthless spin of blogs and media outlets might devalue the collaboration being undertaken, the fact that Domo and Alchemist worked together is a big friggin’ deal. And even more so, the fruits of their labor was a solid project with Alchemist’s signature woozy, prog-rock beats and the Domo’s effortlessly smooth persona – and his even smoother flow – coming into a wonderful union.
This collaboration would have been a sham if Domo had stuck to a lazy assortment of “yo yo I got weed n shit watch me toke this hit” rhymes. Sorry, but Covert Coup filled that void, and better. Instead, listeners are treated to vibe-ready tunes like “Fuck Everybody Else” and “Till The Angels Come” and even truly heartfelt songs such as “Prophecy” and “All Alone” that humanize him in ways one might easily disregard.
Yet, despite his reliable bevy of lyrics, Domo’s flow clearly works in his favor more than any clever line can suffice. He more often than not rips into each beat from the get-go and with much gusto, allowing any sub-par line to slip through the cracks by virtue of his solid performance. A standout track, “The Feeling,” has the OF rapper flowing like a WD-40’d faucet: “my niggas illin’, we knew from the beginnin’ we would kill it/from Henny pinchin’ to Vegas city sinnin’.”
There’s also the flagship single “Elimination Chamber,” which merits discussion more for the inclusion of the guest features than what’s being slung. Over a brooding, ominous loop, Domo keeps things on par with his other rhymes (money, girls, confidence, etc.), Earl Sweatshirt drops an obtuse verse with a haunting monotone, Action Bronson Blue Chips it up with his usual Queens flair, and Vince Staples, in my humble opinion, releases the best verse on the track, a self-deprecating judgment upon himself too menacing to be called anything else but dope: “mama didn’t wanna give birth to a nigga/should’ve murdered a nigga/I’m a cancer to the youth.”
Much like Vince Staples, the guest features on No Idols do tend to outshine Domo. Freddie Gibbs brings that raw gangsta persona he’s known for, and Tyler, The Creator finds some leftover Wolf Haley scraps and serves them medium rare on the eponymous track, injecting way more flavor than Domo dares to produce. Yet I don’t find him laughable or mediocre; Kanye West got done up more times than necessary on MBDTF, but due to his ability to curate and expose great guest rhymes, the album benefits greatly. Same scenario here.
Alchemist also pulls more than his own weight on the project, whipping up beats constructed from samples ranging from fluttering flutes to warbling bass and an emphatic guitar solo. His ear for samples has time and time again proven reliable for hard-headed goon raps from Mobb Deep or stoic, conscious poetry from Evidence (i.e. last year’s Cats and Dogs).
As such, his ability to produce the meat-and-potatoes “Fuck Everybody Else” by fixing a woozy bass run over candid acoustic guitar with a wobbling vocal sample popping in and out, and also shift gears for the truly solemn “All Alone” with its sweetly layered production — a elegiac chorus of a Spanish chanteuse, a gruff crooner and a ’60s quartet swooning amidst dour piano and troubling 808 breaks – seems not only obvious, but necessary.
And much like the Alchemist’s reliable production style, “reliable” seems best when describing this album. No Odd Future project, besides perhaps The OF Tape Vol. 2, has given listener’s a no-bullshit assortment of beats and rhymes clearly not aiming to gross, disgust, rile up, or purposely invoke hatred from whoever heard it. Domo and Alchemist simply wanted to create an entity that would suit a packed venue as much as it would the morning commute or a pool party.
And yes, it’s slightly antithetical for a project from OF to leave a person feeling cool, but even Tyler, The Creator has publicly announced his departure from overtly overt shock rap. Much like Odd Future’s work ethic, No Idols is a veritable success.