Domo Genesis hasn’t been the main feature of anything. Part of the now defunct Odd Future collective, including members Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, and of course, Tyler, The Creator, Domo has never been in the spotlight. Sure, he’s released a few mixtapes and is part of the trio Mellowhigh along with other unappreciated Odd Future members Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, but he has never been as critically or financially successful as some of his Odd Future counterparts.
Domo isn’t aggressive like Tyler, melodramatic like Earl, or sensual like Frank. Domo is his own beast. Genesis, Domo’s debut studio LP, tries to separate the rapper far away from his other Odd Future companions. And while it certainly does that, it’s hard to tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
The production style is following a very current trend in hip-hop: smooth jazzy beats. To Pimp a Butterfly made it cool, and now everyone is copying it. Most of Genesis is comprised of this sort of production, but a couple songs like “Go (Gas)” and “All Night” have more somber, ambient facets. In fact, “Go (Gas)’s” beat sounds eerily similar to another Tyler song, “IFHY”; though based on his very specific production style, this is unsurprising. For the most part, the beats work with Domo’s lyrical style and delivery, but some of the instrumentation can be unpleasant or feel out of place. The overall chill vibe of the album is relaxing and hazy, but the contrast can make the whole record feel inconsistent.
The biggest problem with Genesis is its identity. I had to remind myself that I was listening to a rap album, and not an R&B album. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing, but when tracks switch from style to style it’s hard to find any cohesion with the record as a whole. One minute I’m listening to songs like “Go (Gas)” which is a classic Odd Future-type song with an ambient beat and hard lyrics, and then I’m listening to a song like “Dapper” which features a smooth, jazzy beat and lighter, more emotional lyrics complete with a wonderful Motown-style chorus featuring Anderson .Paak. While the beats are probably the most enjoyable part of the album, the constant switching can become taxing at some points, and while both styles have good songs, one style would have added a lot more cohesion and better flow from beginning to end.
In terms of the songs as a whole, it’s hard to say. Some tracks are really good, especially the lead single “Dapper”, with its soulful grooves. And some songs just don’t work, especially the second single “Go (Gas)”, which contains that ambient Tyler beat, terrible features from Wiz Khalifia and Juicy J, and just overall awful lyricism. This isn’t good kid, m.A.A.d city, Summertime ’06, or 2014 Forest Hills Drive; Domo isn’t going to tell a great story, talking about gangbanging or cooking crack or witnessing friends and family members getting killed. That being said, the lyrics manage to meet the standards of the average hip hop fan.
One problem noticeable issue is the length of some of the songs. Any track longer than 3:30 on the album isn’t worth a listen. “One Below” is four minutes of skits and interludes, and two minutes of decent rapping. The others like “Questions”, “Go (Gas)”, and “All Night” are either terrible or tolerable, with “All Night” being the best of the three.
The features are also hit or miss. As mentioned above, Anderson .Paak has a great feature, as well as Mac Miller on “Coming Back” and Tay Walker on “Wanderer”. But a lot of the features are either not great or unnecessary. All of the features on, once again, “Go (Gas)”, are terrible ,and Da$h on “Questions” isn’t stellar either. Most of the features would have been better off scrapped.
Genesis boils down to being an OK album at its best, and a terrible one at its worst. There certainly are tracks that I will continue to put into my rotation, but as a whole the album lacks an identity or cohesion which makes it painful to listen to all the way through. Trying to branch out for an underappreciated member is tough. You can find success and make a great album like Black Hippy/TDE’s Jay Rock on his album 90059, or you can flop and make an average to below average album and reaffirm why you were never the main focal point of the group, like with this record. I used to wonder why I didn’t get into Domo like I wanted to, and I really wanted to like this album. But the only thing I like about Genesis is the fact that I can finally put my Domo curiosities to rest.
Written by Max Borushek