Fat Possum’s reissue of Mellowhype’s BlackenedWhite finds the heirs to Odd Future’s throne stepping out of the shadow of Tyler the Creator and forming their own identity. Less reliant on the shock content that has dominated the conversation around the crew, the album is equal parts fantastic violence and silly fun. First released as a free download in 2010, the album has been trimmed down and re-mastered into one of the most satisfying and complete albums of the year.
It needs to be said that the strength of BlackenedWhite is due in equal parts to both LeftBrain’s supreme production and Hodgy’s growing skills on the mic. Leftbrain shows his range in the diversity of the beats here, which oscillate from the chilled out groove of Brain to the over the top cacophony of tracks like “IGotAGun” and “F666 the Police.” Leftbrain has left his mark all over this record. While he only spits once or twice, you can feel his presence in every track.
BlackenedWhite also see’s Hodgy step into his own as an MC. Up to this point in the group’s short history, he has been consistently overshadowed by Earl and Tyler. Here the MC finally solidifies his identity as the group’s angrier yet less shocking older brother. Hodgy takes the group’s penchant for ultra violence and blends it with more traditional rap clichés, delivering what is easily the crew’s most accessible release to date. He sounds his best when he completely drops the controversy, like on “Right Here,” where the MC is content to simply get high and bullshit about women. The handful of OF features on the record are well played. Domo, Tyler and group associate Frank Ocean turn in solid performances in their supporting roles, but the MVP award goes to Mike G who adds a nice balance to the album highlight “Loaded.”
BlackenedWhite is a refreshingly original album where it counts and it never gets under your skin the way Tyler’s albums can. While this version is missing a few key tracks, like the excellent Frank Ocean assisted ‘Hell,’ BlackenedWhite stands on it’s own as a excellent record and a great entry point to anyone not yet sold on the group’s range and longevity.