Here’s the thing about the L.A. rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, rap’s pre-eminent group of self-styled radicals, provocateurs and shock artists: They’re not radical, they’re not provocative and they’re not shocking. Hormonal rage has long been an engine of pop music, and their relentless misogyny – “Please hit your knees/My dick won’t suck itself” – is the stupidest, most banal way to raise hackles. And yet The O.F. Tape Volume 2 has a fizzy energy that elevates it above its limitations. Leader Tyler, the Creator is an imaginative soundscaper whose beats take in everything from crunk to Nineties indie rap. But it’s cacophony that keeps you piqued: All those peculiar voices boasting, storytelling, bellyaching. There’s Tyler, sharper and wittier than before; there’s Hodgy Beats, who earns the prize for best punchlines; and of course there’s the resident grown-up, rising R&B star Frank Ocean, who takes a solo turn on the Stevie Wonder-ish “White.” At their best, OF, like Wu-Tang, are a thrilling regional act, whip-smart black hipsters whose worldview is grounded in their corner of sunbaked Southern California. In “P,” Hodgy Beats brags about his gunslinging by invoking Tea Party politician Tim Donnelly, who was arrested at an airport when a Colt .45 was found in his luggage. “Tea parties are the shit, .40 mags by the stones,” raps Hodgy. “I’m fighting for gun rights to shoot a nigga in his dome.” That’s the best kind of shock: taking a cliché and turning it into something fresh, new, odd.
Key Tracks: “Oldie,” “White,” “P,” “Doms”