This is a guest post from fellow writer Musicwithmink. This is the first time I’ve featured someone since January when I featured Steveforthedeaf, so I hope you enjoy this content from yet another great writer!
I think it’s safe to say that when most people think of Odd Future in 2018, they probably remember the collective as Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and somewhere between five and 20 other dudes that fell off five years ago. While the group’s three stars have been consistently (and rightfully) a part of the alternative hip-hop/R&B conversation in recent years, with their artistic progression and maturity since the proudly-ignorant OF days well-documented and highly celebrated, it’s easy to assume that those who created less buzz stayed in that stagnant teenage mindset and faded away as a result.
While that may be true for some, not every lesser-known member should be counted out – Syd Tha Kid’s group The Internet has been quietly releasing material throughout the 2010s and is coming out with a new album very soon, Mike G released a pretty solid mixtape on 4/20, and Domo Genesis has come out with a studio album and two mixtapes in just the past 3 years. Regrettably, it wasn’t until a month or so ago that I started delving into Domo’s solo material, but within just minutes of hitting play on his 2016 album Genesis, I knew I was being introduced to something special. Fully countering every expectation I had going into it, Genesis is an uplifting, mature, and beautiful hip-hop album with strong neo-soul influences, and it’s sure to sit firmly in my summer rotation.
Domo’s work in the early 2010s was marked by a sharp, cocky flow with braggadocious lyrical content to match, usually spat over the spacious, MIDI-centric instrumentals of Tyler the Creator and Left Brain. I can definitely get into that style, dated as it may be, so when I went into this album I expected to be moderately pleased by some more of that simplistic and hard-hitting content. What I got, however, was completely different. In a good way.
The production on this album is top-notch – nearly every beat is lush but tasteful, featuring a nice combination of real instruments and MIDI, a ton of buttery Fender Rhodes (the number one way for producers to win my heart), and beautifully sung vocal hooks. The entire musical landscape is very contemplative; this matches the lyrical content, which most often concerns Domo’s meditations on his place in the music world, as an artist stuck somewhere between obscurity and fame and forced to live in the shadow of his adolescent success.
The three-track run of “Wanderer”, “Questions”, and “My Own” exemplifies this perfectly, all of them carrying the message that though Domo may not be a nobody, he’s still hungry and still has a lot left to prove. Later tracks speak similarly, with the line ‘If you don’t like this song, they’re gonna turn my lights off’ from “All Night” is a particularly good summation of the precariousness of Domo’s career. In addition to the solid lyrics and instrumentals, I was struck by just how well the tracks flow into each other. Many are bookended by spacy transitional sections that lead into the next track seamlessly, making much of the album feels like a single, episodic work.
The track “Go (Gas)”, produced by Tyler the Creator and featuring Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, unfortunately, sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of this lineup. It’s not a bad song, and it’s clearly meant to be a throwback to Domo’s older style of carefree, arrogant bars (complete with very “Goblin/Wolf” sounding production from Tyler), but it would have fared so much better as a single or bonus track than as the midpoint of an otherwise much-classier album.
Still, aside from the awkward placement of that particular track and the somewhat one-dimensional overall subject matter, Genesis is an album that, in my opinion, should be way more talked about than it has been. The contemplative, motivational lyrics and bittersweet instrumentals, along with Domo’s flow, which is as solid and laid back as ever, make a great album for those quiet summer evenings spent with music, the sunset, and maybe some cheap beer. If you’re a fan of artists like Oddisee, Rapsody, Anderson .Paak (who has a feature on “Dapper”), and TPAB/Untitled Unmastered-era Kendrick, definitely give this one a shot.