Son Raw quit smoking. No for real.

Domo Genesis carries weed but he’s no weed carrier. That’s the mission statement behind No Idols, the first Odd Future release created entirely with an outside producer and Domo’s calling card to a wider rap world still unsure of where OF fit in. It’s a smart move, Rolling Papers was affably stoned but he’ll most likely never get that many focused Tyler beats again and while he acquitted himself nicely on the OF Tape 2, the group’s insular production revealed the limitations of the group’s approach, suddenly becoming a constraint. With an A-list producer in his corner and a desire to prove himself, Domo spits every bar on No Idols as if his life depended on it and the results are impressive, if not always fun.

Whether or not No Idols is considered a success depends almost entirely on the goal line. As an underground artist Domo more than proves himself standing toe to toe with Smoke DZA, Vince Staples, Spaceghostpurrp and even a returning Earl Sweatshirt who’s in full on MF DOOM mode now with a monotone flow and thrice clever lyrics about stuff that’s not rape. Domo’s punchlines connect, his metaphors work (weed-as-a-girl anthems aside) and he sounds great over Alchemist’s loops and chops. This is the kind of rap album Stones Throw could really use right now: underground but raw and unpretentious.

On the other hand, if OF is still hoping to the next Wiz Khalifa, they’d best adjust their expectations as there’s nothing here that could be remotely construed as pop friendly or even critic bait. Domo can rap circles over most of the kids currently inflating the Chicago rap bubble but he’s yet to write something nearly as catchy as “I don’t Like.” Likewise, while he acquits himself well on a verse-for-verse basis he never delivers a “holy shit!” moment here – those belong to Freddie Gibbs’ murderous gangsterism, Tyler’s hyperactive snarl and Action Bronson’s potential verse of the year. And that’s cool, because the world needs underground rap and if it takes a skateboard and a snap back to get this into iPods, so be it. This is a tape full of dope raps over Alchemist beats and there’s no way it wasn’t going to be at least good.

If I haven’t spoken much about Alchemist, it’s that he smartly plays the back here, never faltering in quality but also never outshining his artist. The beats are appropriately stoned with residue from his Russian Roulette project in the form of power guitar solos and Slavic chanteuse samples but it isn’t until the funky horn swells of “The Feeling” that he allows himself to take center stage. It’s a wise approach befitting an experienced producer who’s hitting a 3rd win thanks to a sudden resurgent interest in his boom-bap sound. In short he’s the perfect foil for an emcee who’s not quite ready for the spotlight but eager to prove himself and determined to win. And really, that’s enough here: No Idols won’t make Domo Genesis a star but it’ll stay in rotation, introduce him to fans who don’t have a Tumblr and ensure that as OF’s hype dies down, people remember that this crew can spit.

MP3: Domo Genesis X Alchemist – No Idols

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