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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

September 29, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Domo Genesis and the unsung depth of Odd Future

Posted by Andrew Matson

Warning: swearing

domo high school.jpeg
Domo Genesis in high school on "'90s day" (in Gary Payton jersey); photo via domogenesis.tumblr.com

"Let's Smoke" by Domo Genesis


If you follow youth-oriented popular music, it's been hard to miss the rise of Odd Future, the sprawling, underage hip-hop crew who graced the cover of Billboard Magazine in March, and whose leader — Tyler, the Creator — won "Best New Artist" at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.

For the MTV resistant, however, a quick introduction: Odd Future hails from Los Angeles — home of much punk rock and gangsta rap, both of which the crew emulates, somewhat. And characteristic of their generation, they multitask — as rappers, producers, sponsored skateboarders, bloggers and even screenwriters (they're about to launch a comedy show on the Adult Swim cable TV network). Tyler's self-directed "Yonkers" video, which includes a memorable silhouette of the artist appearing to hang himself, logged 25 million views on YouTube.

But Odd Future isn't all shock. They're young, developing artists with wide-swinging sensibilities. Take lesser-known rapper Domo Genesis. His lo-fi album "Rolling Papers" (2010) is the best the crew has released so far.

"I never thought about doing stuff for shock value," Domo says on the phone in advance of the crew's sold-out Oct. 4 show at Showbox at the Market. "I'd rather take my route, even if it takes more time [to catch on]."

He sinks into tracks easily, and "Rolling Papers" shines mostly because of Tyler's production: airy piano chords and woozy drum programming. Domo, Tyler's high-school friend, succeeds by not disrupting the flow, and as a curator — an underrated rapper skill. He selected the tracks for "Rolling Papers" from Tyler's stock, which made up the bulk of first-wave Odd Future albums.

"Seriously," Domo says on the phone, "some rappers don't know how to pick beats. I feel like I picked the best ones, out of everyone."

A year later, at 20, he's a more technically impressive rapper on "Under the Influence," the mixtape he released two weeks ago for free on domogenesis.tumblr.com. There's no Odd Future production on it, but Domo's ear is still sharp. It led him to Seattle, in a way.

Standout track "Let's Smoke" was produced by Tha Bizness, the Grammy-nominated team originally from Seattle, now based in Atlanta and L.A. Domo met Tha Bizness at a studio when he was in L.A. for the VMAs. Listening to their rapper-less compositions, he selected the ones he wanted.

Describing the star-studded studio, Dow Jones of Tha Bizness paints a totally different picture than the home recording space of Odd Future's Syd the Kid, where the crew made their first run of albums.

"It was us, will.i.am, [Usher's producer] Polow — and in another room they were mixing Lil Wayne's stuff." Dow Jones says he was impressed by the diversity of Domo's selections, which included dark, space-age music — "Clipse/Neptunes stuff," he says, referring to the Virginia rap stars and producers — and one song he remembers as "a West Coast joint."

"Let's Smoke" would be that joint, and it actually sounds a lot like something Tyler would produce: stripped-down Halloween funk. The chorus is about celebrating Odd Future's ascent to world tours and fame, and the sound — though slicker than before — indicates Domo sticking to his guns, trusting his taste.

Which is good, because that's how Odd Future got here in the first place.

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