The first human sound on MellowHigh’s debut album sounds like someone dry-heaving. Actually, it’s Domo Genesis jumping throat-first into the sludgy beat-fix Goon’n, relying on half-barked zingers to snap the listener to attention. Domo is the man who has turned Odd Future off-shoot MellowHype (Left Brain and Hodgy Beats) into MellowHigh. As a trio, MellowHigh has the potential to be more complex and more convoluted than MellowHype, but rather than aiming for a higher level of consciousness, the group’s first LP aims below the belt.
Yu, the album’s most readily digestible track, might give you some insight as to how the trio picked their moniker, with a chorus dedicated to weed and a loosely wound beat whose sleepy spirals recall images of that hookah-smoking caterpillar lounging on a mushroom. Extinguisher is the wordiest of the thirteen tracks, opening with a blast of synthy bass before Hodgy and Domo crash in to spit quick-tongued, bravado-heavy insult raps. Roofless tries really hard, too hard, to be an amped up, go-to club banger.
Left Brain’s weirdo production still hangs on tight, lending staggering synth jerks to Self-Titled, paranoia-soaked space blips to High Life and the drowsiest of drum snares to Cigarillo. But overall, it lacks the wacked-out, unbridled spontaneity of MellowHype’s 2010 cerebral blood fest BlackenedWhite. Hodgy’s nasal snarl benefits from the addition of Domo’s phlegmy growl. And though the group’s lyrical images are creative (“Spittin’ sick, ripping through visions of written syphilis”), the rhymes sometimes devolve into afterthought filler (“I’m a fucking expert at drinking champagne”).
The trio proves it has a fat bag of tricks: floaty fast rhymes (Get’n Drunk), high gravity boom bap (Troublesome) and haunting alien lullabies (Nobody). But the fact that it’s Earl Sweatshirt’s heavy-lidded guest verse in Cold World that’s still stuck in my head probably means MellowHigh still has a few kinks to work out.