When it comes to recognition within LA collective Odd Future, Tyler is the been-there-done-that absentee and Earl is the still-going-impossibly-hard prodigy, but MellowHype duo Hodgy Beats and Left Brain are frustratingly the should-but-can’t-quite-get-it guys. It’s not for lack of trying – they’ve released several middling mixtapes and albums, even recruiting fellow OF cohort Domo Genesis for the unfortunately glanced-over MellowHigh album. Sporadic moments of top quality beat making and spitting have been present on past releases but for whatever reason, MellowHype could never really tie a singular release into a complete package that feels tight, consistent and enjoyable.
This is where INSA steps in, attempting to correct the false steps MellowHype have previously taken and steer the project in the recognisably hallowed footsteps of Earl and Tyler.
Left Brain has really stepped up his game for INSA; long gone are the too-smoked-out-to-function abstruse beats, they’ve been replaced by a one-two combo of salacious bass and imaginative sounds. He also comes in with some inspired samples, most notably from Crystal Castles and the Clams Casino go-to source for sampling, Imogen Heap. Left Brain’s switch up in production makes INSA a lot more attractive than previous attempts, and also contributes a lot towards that togetherness MellowHype have been in need of.
Hodgy Beats has always been a model for consistency, and he isn’t about to fall off any time soon. In his words on the aptly named ‘BARS’, “fucking with me is like diving in a pool with concrete feet/Hodgy don’t have a mistress for the fact he mistreats beats”. His flows too aren’t something to be messed with.
A real game changer though, comes in the form of a collection of matchless hooks. Hodgy’s avowal of “I do it to the fullest” on ‘DLX’ is not only the unquestionable truth, but an insanely fun and repeatable hook that sits regally on the most accomplished Left Brain beat to date. Left Brain too has a share of the outstanding hooks – “fe fi fo fum/nigga I ain’t playin’ with ya!” is The Best Trap Hook Parody 2k14, and somehow sounds more hard and threatening than dumb.
MellowHype originally sat comfortably for weed smokers and OF fanboys, but now there’s a certain level of accessibility that comes from the new beats and hooks, and it breaks that inconsistent streak they struggled so hard with in real style.