Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Record label: Odd Future
Genre(s): Rap, Jazz, R&B
The debut from this Odd Future offshoot duo – beatmaker Matt Martians plus lone Odd Future female Syd the Kyd – is an endearingly scattershot take on spaced-out R&B, complete with drug fetishism and a load of moves apparently copped from the Neptunes. "Violet Nude Women" samples a college lecture about LSD over vaguely Middle Eastern psych soul, and "They Say" stretches snares and strings out to afternoon-nap tempo. The hook is Syd's surprisingly fluid crooning about girl-loses-girl heartache, sounding like a stoned Aaliyah for Rachel Maddow times.
As the Internet released their debut album digitally at the end of 2011, this dreamy, dark duo benefitted from their relationship with the controversial hip-hop crew Odd Future, just on mentions in the press. It's beneficial, as Purple Naked Ladies is actually a diminutive and often humble album that easily drifts into the background, even with a flippant treatment of "Cocaine" (here, a metaphor for hot sex rather than a life-ruining drug) and song titles like "Violet Nude Women" or "C*nt. " Think Portishead, '80s, atmospheric Michael Mann soundtracks, sexy loft music, neo-neo-soul, and Georgia Ann Muldrow all mixed together for a new brand of trip-hop that really lives up to that genre's title.
As a newly established limb on the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All monster, the Internet--made up of OF chief engineer/DJ Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians, also of The Super 3--has received its share of mixed reviews regarding its debut (and first physical release on Odd Future Records), Purple Naked Ladies, which dropped Dec. 20. To cut right to it, the album sounds like its creators: it's young, forward and dipped in sex and drugs.
You would be hard-pushed to call 18-year-old Syd Bennett anything other than a unique figure. Hip-hop and R&B are hardly overstaffed with out lesbian artists. Furthermore, she's the engineer, DJ and solitary female member of rap collective Odd Future, remarkable largely because of the stuff that tends to spill from the mouths of the other members: "I hate gays"; "You know it's not rape if you like it, bitch.
LA hip-hop conflagration Odd Future have thus far spun off one comedy misogynist rapper (Tyler) and one alienated soul superstar (Frank Ocean). Next up is Syd Tha Kid, the outfit's female DJ/engineer, a major mover in Odd Future's dystopian sound. The album she has made with fellow Future Matt Martians intrigues (a lot) and disappoints (a little). Jazzier cuts such as "Fastlane" are far more soulful and elegant than anyone could have foreseen – think Shabazz Palaces – while class-A-promoting shock tactics such as "Cocaine/Tevie" retain OF's core anomie.
The inaugural release on the embryonic Odd Future Records, Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians’ collaboration under The Internet moniker is a nocturnal tapestry of R&B, neo soul and nu jazz that gives the listener an insight in to the workings of the O.F. collective by showcasing the production cog in its machine. Beginning with the first glance at the sleeve’s banal domestic kitchen scene and continuing throughout the record’s post-breakup narrative it also showcases a more tender side to the collective as vulnerability and loneliness edging out anger and wrath as the dominant themes.
"When I first started really fucking with Odd Future heavy, my dad was like, 'Really? They talk about some crazy shit and as a female, you're slapping a lot of other females in the face.' I'm like, 'That's what I do. I slap bitches, Dad.'" That's Sydney Bennett talking from the backseat of a van during an MTV interview. Bennett, whose stage name is Syd tha Kyd, comes up often from Odd Future defenders.
Cocaine, a single by Odd Future-affiliated R&B duo the Internet, is one of those rare pop songs that treats a druggy subject with objective detachment. A sweet but bleary-sounding Syd the Kyd alluringly induces a lovely young lady to "ignore the consequence," hinting that something unseemly is in store despite musical partner Matt Martians's lush, lulling atmospherics. That underlying foreboding runs through Purple Naked Ladies, an album that essentially sounds like so-called 90s "neo-soul" music after a few hits of its titular acid.
Review Summary: While The Internet certainly appear capable of hitting the mark, Purple Naked Ladies falters because it attempts to be far more than it is, leaving it as nothing more than a broken collection of half-realized ideasAs I approach a new Odd Future release I find myself readying the proverbial grain of salt, and while I’m well aware of why that is the case, I find myself wondering if the more violent and bombastic tendencies of Tyler and, to a lesser extent Earl, have done more damage than good to the reputation of the collective not as a whole, but to its more conscious leaning alumni. That The Internet (Syd Tha Kid and Matt Martians) will undoubtedly be tarred with the same brush as their more journalist-baiting cohorts is of little surprise, but being guilty by association unfortunately places this sub-group into a position where it becomes increasingly difficult to remain objectified when discussing them. Outside of possibly Frank Ocean, by the group’s own hand has their reputations preceded them, and by comparison those same fans who became riveted by a young African-American who proceeded to hang himself to the soundtrack of his own apocalyptic hip hop hangover won’t find much to rave about with the neo-soul doldrums and blunted r&b that The Internet employs so readily.
Purple Naked Ladies is the work of the Internet, a duo composed of Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians. It’s the latest release from affiliates of controversial collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or, simply, Odd Future) and the first full-length from Syd, the group’s female member. While there are a few rapped verses on the album, it tends more towards the Frank Ocean camp in that it is largely sung.
The InternetPurple Naked Ladies[Odd Future Records; 2011]By Ryan Studer; January 27, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetOdd Future are shocking, but not without their moments of ingenuity. 2011 saw the group releasing a plethora of material that showcased their individual talents -- from Hodgy Beats’ laid-back swagger to Frank Ocean’s self-reflective crooning. While some experiments were more provocative than others (“Bitch Suck Dick”), you couldn’t help but admire their dedication to providing new material to their devoted fan base.
Mostly by their own design, it’s almost impossible to separate any single member or side project from the larger Odd Future picture (well, with the exception of Frank Ocean). This makes it hard to look at The Internet (OFWGKTA’s Syd Tha Kyd and Matt Martians) objectively without pulling their cohorts’ releases and reputations into the mix. While it strays from what they’re known for (electronic pseudo-soul as opposed to hip-hop), it’s just not very exciting.
Mariah McManus The eager tunefulness of Mariah McManus’s music almost gets in the way. So does the crisp songwriting, which is judicious with word choice and emotional delivery. But Ms. McManus is more complex than all that on the beguiling “Nice To Meet You” (Catcher and Rye). That’s ….
As the sole female member of OFWGKTA and one of hip-hop's few openly gay artists, Syd 'the Kyd' Bennet's most-discussed role in the group has been largely a social one, during their year-plus stint in the public eye. You could mostly catch her challenging critics of the group's allegedly homophobic lyrics, and doing so quite thoughtfully. Yet this has overshadowed her musical personality – even as the group's in-house engineer, she's primarily been known for remixes and production credits.