“I am a wizard, an illusionist. I am a dreamer in a dream without a society. I am Hodgy.”

Odd Future–although dope–always felt a little too young for me. I entered high school in 96-97, so while they were a breath of fresh air and a middle finger to the polished more business-oriented major releases running the day, I never fully ‘committed’ to them. Because, while I loved and recognized their obvious significance, it felt a little too immature, for lack of a better term. My initial instincts about their importance was obviously correct, no need to bore you. But, like [most] groups of youngsters who blow fast [pause] and go zero to a hundred real quick, they experienced understandable turmoil, and eventually–via the Twitter fingers of Tyler The Creator–the group was officially disbanded.

But, for one-time member Hodgy Beats, who now simply goes by Hodgy, it’s a new day. With the experience behind him, and a wealth of opportunity ahead of him, Hodgy is finally stepping out on his own with his official debut, Fireplace: The NotTheOtherSide; it’s a stark departure from everything you think you know about him as an artist and person. Framed around a conversation with his [insanely insightful] mother, the project is the 26-year-old’s coming of age, in a way, exploring themes that range from forgiveness to mortality, co-parenting and more. He seems woke, shedding his past, and soaring towards new skies. No shock value, no antics, just bars, surprisingly amazing production, and only three features—so, he’s basically out on the ledge himself. 

The first single/video “Barbel” is a renaissance track that asserts his hunger and his focus, while the 88-Keys produced “Final Hour” and BADBADNOTGOOD produced “Tape Beat” sees the young rapper holding his own alongside superstars Busta Rhymes and Lil’ Wayne, respectively. Holding his own is an understatement—even without the star power, this project holds up.

Highlights for me were “Resurrection,” which is a concept built upon a one-way conversation with God, and the jazzy relationship-themed record “Turkuoise,” which has been playing back in my head for days. Full disclosure, I’ve been playing this album on repeat for the last week.

This album seemed very personal at points—as though he alot to get off of his chest. It’s a strong first ‘solo’ effort, and does a great deal to really re-brand Hodgy as his own rapper, outside of the OF shadow. It’s only the beginning, though. I heard through the grapevine that he has a collaborative album in the works with Nelly Furtado, amongst other things. He’s still incredibly young; chances are, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Hodgy in the years to come.