One of the reasons Odd Future blew up was a keen ability to tap into the zeitgeist due to their youth. As quickly as pop culture moves today, it's incredibly difficult for most mainstream artists to keep up. But Odd Future were all young enough to be used to that. Not many members remember life without instantaneous access to the Internet.
A fascination with that might explain the name of one of the collective's most interesting projects, the Internet. Just as leader Tyler, the Creator hit upon a youthful desire to go back to hardcore rap fundamentals in a world of Drakes and J Coles, the Internet is fully attuned to the electronic neo-soul movement that is currently taking place. But "right place, right time" undercuts how savvy they truly are, because this group hit upon the trend right at its beginning and are still only getting better.
Originally formed by Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians, and then fleshed out by other live band performers, the Internet began as one of the lesser-known projects in the group. Much of their earlier work was very ambient, which stood in stark contrast to the rest of the group's angsty rap.
Spacey and oftentimes beautiful, they effortlessly created a vibe of their own that stood apart from the Odd Future collective, despite guest appearances by various members, who would rap over certain tracks. The biggest immediate influences that stood out to me were Nujabes and Flying Lotus, yet the Internet has been distinct from their forebears from Day One.
But with the addition of new members and a renewed focus, the group has put out their most interesting and cohesive work yet with this year's album Ego Death. Featuring bigger-name guests like Vic Mensa and Janelle Monae, they've brought together all the elements of their sound to produce a chilled-out, funky masterpiece.
As other artists are tapping into similar vibes, like Sia and FKA twigs, the Internet has quietly been shaping their sound towards something far more soulful than ambient. The instrumentation is vastly less sparse than their peers, bolstered by the individual talents of their band.
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Meanwhile, Syd tha Kyd has only grown and improved as a singer. Though still not the most technically gifted vocalist, she has the perfect range for the music that the Internet makes. When she really lets loose, she can hit all the necessary highs, and she has a sense of melody not unlike Prince in her approach to writing her vocal lines.
Despite their growth, the Internet hasn't run away from their association with their Odd Future compatriots, either. Tyler, the Creator still appears on Ego Death, laying it down on the album's final track, “Palace/Curse,” which is the most direct hip-hop track on the record. Hearing said track just makes you wonder why the Internet aren't producing beats for more rappers, considering the brilliance of their craft.
Growing while staying true to their roots, it's no wonder the Internet charted for the first time with Ego Death and are playing to a sold-out crowd tonight. They defied the expectations of Odd Future fans early on and tapped into something that they could feel coming. Now that the time has arrived, they're reaping the rewards of their steadfast commitment to their sound.
The Internet, along with Moonchild, St. Beauty, and Bobby Earth perform tonight at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. Doors open at 8 p.m.