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Domo Genesis X The Alchemist, “No Idols” — Album Review

No Idols, the second solo mixtape by Domo Genesis, pairs him with producer The Alchemist. That match proves immediately beneficial to both parties.

Though not in possession of the explosive talent displayed by Tyler, the Creator or the visionary cool of Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis nonetheless fills a distinct niche within the Odd Future, one that makes the collective stronger as a whole. Problems emerge when Domo is called upon to carry an album in his own right. Though charming, and at times a talented lyricist, the personal magnetism exemplified by Tyler and Ocean seems to have passed Domo by.

This doesn’t mean that the MC can’t turn out solid solo work; it just means that the environment in which he can flourish tends to be unstable, and achievable only by virtue of collaborations with similarly hermetic stylists.

If you’ll recall, The Alchemist, when not working with Eminem, has a tendency to produce contemplative, richly detailed masterpieces. His work on No Idols adopts this mood of meandering erudition, creating a detailed sonic pallet that matches Domo’s stoned, lyrical perambulations.

The first of the album’s standout tracks is “All Alone,” which employs a sample of a man retching to produce a sonic centerpiece that is at first off-putting, then oddly irresistible. Domo then takes the fluttering synthesizer line of “Me and My Bitch” and invests it with the energy necessary to turn its sonic curio into an actual hip-hop track.

For the most part, Alchemist’s beats forego bombast. His drum lines reside comfortably near the midpoint of the mix, and his displays of virtuosity are relegated to instrumental latticework at the far edges of his compositions. “The Daily News” provides the finest example of this technique, wherein Alchemist layers foghorn synthesizers, piano flourishes and piccolo trills into an edifice of restrained menace.

Domo Genesis employs his talents as a lyricist in a similar fashion. The brassy, declarative hooks predominant in pop rap, as well as the campaigns of lyrical shock and awe engaged by Tyler, The Creator, are absent from Domo’s lyrical toolbox.

In the past, he has rapped almost exclusively about weed, and while No Idols does offer its fair share of love for that particular drug (see “Me and My Bitch”) Dom has switched gears on this release, electing to rap about the defensive nature of celebrity itself. On “F**k Everybody Else,” he taunts his enemies with threats of, “if you sleep I hope you make it through the night, partner.”

Other members of Odd Future, who contribute the lion’s share of No Idol’s guest verses, take a similarly caustic bent about the potential threats to their (relatively) fresh celebrity.

While this subject in itself doesn’t set Domo Genesis apart from his hip-hop contemporaries, his command of casually revealed details serves to place him on a rarified lyrical plane. He might not drop the hottest rhymes, or write the most engaging hooks, but few MCs share Domo’s eye for detail. On No Idols he raps about such activities as “stuffing marijuana in a broken cigar” and “ashing in a champagne glass.” He email-declines magazine features and worries about the effect that fame will have on his friends’ loyalty.

Celebrity of Tyler, the Creator’s scale may not be in the stars for Domo Genesis, but in the meantime he has at least maneuvered himself into a position where the finest aspects of his talent can flourish.

3.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

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