Numbers, the sophomore effort from MellowHype, is more laid back than the debut BlackenedWhite, and the change of pace yielded strong, if unexciting, results.
MellowHype -- one of the many permutations of the Odd Future crew, this one made up of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain -- mostly filled Numbers with minimal beats that let the lyrics do all the work, and they get the job done. It speaks to the duo's strengths. Nothing is particularly over-the-top. Playing it safe means never blowing anyone away, but Hodgy Beats and Left Brain are both talented enough as rappers and producers to turn out a solid record.
Appearances from Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt on “Astro” and “P2,” respectively, inject new life into the record when they come up, providing the star power that comes with their names and the proof of the skills that got them their respect.
Odd Future star power aside, the first single off Numbers is easily the standout. “La Bonita” bumps and pops under a self-assured flow from both rappers that you can't help but imagine them grinning through. The kicker is when it closes out on a catchy R&B-ish refrain.
“La Bonita” is also Exhibit A in the case for MellowHype's relatively chilled-out, feel-good style. Compared to the rest of the Odd Future crew -- Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt's violent imagery and Frank Ocean's crushing heartbreak and ennui -- Hodgy and Left Brain simply sound happier. Even on the darker-toned “Snare,” they lighten it up with adorable kid vocals. Numbers falters where MellowHype tries to go a little harder. On “Untitled L” and “Leflair,” for example, the heaviness in the production feels forced.
There's a creeping feeling that MellowHype could do more, like Hodgy and Left Brain are content to ride on natural ability alone. On the bright side, when left alone with each other and their talent, it sounds like they're having fun, and that sounds good.