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The Tao of MellowHype

I was always intrigued by the Wu-Tang Clan when they cited Kung Fu flicks as their main influence–old black and white films that were horribly dubbed with laughable special effects.

Each member of  The Wu-Tang Clan actually took their name from their favorite Kung Fu movie character, and they also frequently cited different fighting styles within their tracks.

The RZA, leader of Wu-Tang Clan, actually took his love for eastern philosophy a step further and penned The Tao of Wu, a book that combines street smarts with the wisdom of world religions such as Islam and Buddhism

Now, if you think I am about to make the inevitable comparison between Wu-Tang and Odd Future, I’m not. Yes, they are both rap groups and are both known for their outlandish lyrics and behavior. But instead I want to delve further into this topic of Kung Fu culture in hip hop.

Eastern arts such as Kung Fu and Tai Chi believe in “chi” a primordial energy , that when harnessed, it flows out of you. It is a feeling that takes form organically and poetically.

I think the Kung Fu and Hip Hop comparison is far more than just a “cool” novelty.

I feel as if both cultures believe in harnessing an energy found with in us– and when that energy is harnessed just right–art is formed.

Tai Chi and Kung Fu do this by creating graceful movements– while hip hop artists use that energy to form a poetic and passionate product.

My comparison of Odd Future and Wu Tang comes from their Zen-like flow–a rapping technique that comes unrehearsed and is just too smooth to ignore.

Recently, I did a small piece on Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (Odd Future), a “skate rap” group that are taking the music scene by storm. Odd Future has around 11 members, and splits off into various groups–one being MellowHype which consists of members Hodgy Beats and Left Brain. MellowHype recently released their second album BlackenedWhite, and are currently in the studio working on their third piece that’s due out in 2012.

All sub groups of Odd Future, especially MellowHype, have been praised for their lyric heavy rapping style, which comes as a breath of fresh air in a time where auto-tune and lyric weak rap is filling the airwaves.

In BlackenedWhite, MellowHype takes rap back to it’s poetic and angst filled roots.

Rap started as a way to preach about social injustices–but mainstream rap has some how devolved into songs about clubs and rims.

MellowHype  changes the “rap norm” by combining mainstream raps upbeat vibe with the heavy content that can be found in early rap music. Though, most of all, MellowHype’s amazing lyricism, creativity and use of original instrumentation sets them worlds apart from many artists in the rap game right now.

The rapping techniques of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain are unstoppable. As soon as the verse leaves their lips it takes on a world of it’s own. Their lyrics form images–sometimes pleasant while other times disturbing–though they are always effective and each line is packed with passion and drive. Their use of wordplay is some of the best out there right now–as you can see in the attached track Primo from their new album:

“We spit because we’re sick and irrelevant to you relevant
I’m comin’ down but not from my high
I should live in a plane, shit I feel that fly
It’s a bird in the clouds and the sky’s a plain
Nah ho, squash quote, it’s that gal Mary Jane
She wants to retreat from this packed Swisher Sweet
The taste of it is regular, she make the Swisher sweet
From time to time I gotta dish her kief
Cause when she in agreement wanna leave, I let her leaf” 

Once listening to their flow, you’re hooked. After taking time to hear they tracks you begin to “feel” them as well. You sense that the song is energetic–rather than robotic. It’s very genuine and also fun to listen to. 

Of course the Odd Future duo aren’t prophets or spiritual guru’s, but their style is certainly a testament to the creative energy that can be found in rap music today.

Go grab a copy of their album BlackenedWhite today!

Image Courtesy of Sunset In The Rearview

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  1. 08/26/2011 at 12:32 pm

    Not sure how I missed this one… nice turn. Great post.

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