Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide

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Back in 2009, Gerard Long, then known as Hodgy Beats instead of simply Hodgy, was the first Odd Future member to release a solo tape. Although he didn't complete his proper debut album, Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide, until 2016, there was an abundance of Hodgy-related releases during the intervening years: projects as part of OF, MellowHype, and MellowHigh, solo mixtapes and EPs, and appearances on a few albums worth of cuts, such as Tyler, The Creator's "Sandwitches." All the while, juvenile provocation and stoned eccentricity gradually became less prominent in Long's output. The development is epitomized here by "They Want," a lucid, angered track in which Long laments murderous police, scolds an underachieving friend, and ties it together with a refrain of "They want you to fail, they want you to hate yourself." Just beneath that is "Resurrection," its lyrics concerning faith, hope, and mortality with a little humorous wordplay: "I wanna spread positivity like it's leprosy, lord." In "Barbell," featuring a woozy and knocking Jonti production, Long professes spiritual elevation, self-reliance, and "speaking from your heart." The curtailment of mischief never comes across as forced. The verses are concentrated and clear-eyed, delivered over varied musical support, including 88 Keys on the brawling "Final Hour" (with Busta Rhymes) and BadBadNotGood on the tripped-out "Tape Beat" (with Lil Wayne). This is certainly Long's most substantive release, and also a highlight of the extended Odd Future discography.

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