fly_lo

Flying Lotus unleashed a series of tweets earlier this week that included a free 24-track mixtape. We gladly accept his early Christmas present.

Flying Lotus has enjoyed one of the more unconventional careers in music over the past decade, so when he casually released Ideas+drafts+loops, a free 24-track mixtape, earlier this week, it made some semblance of sense.

As part of a series of tweets on Tuesday, the beloved rapper/producer/multi-hyphenate had this to say: “U kno what … Fuck it. About to be 300K [followers] today probably. Zip file coming right up. Hey u guys are gonna share this folder right? Pls pass it around. Pass to the homies. Rt the hell out of it. Lots of stuff n this folder. Some u knw. Some u don’t [...] thanks for everything .. im feelin all emo about this.”

And with that, we were gifted an early (affordable!) Christmas present of previously released songs, plus what appear to be bonuses from his upcoming – and still untitled – 2014 album, which he also addressed in the same Twitter session.

There are cameos from indie favorites like Shabazz Palaces, Earl Sweatshirt, Thundercat, Baths and more – plus one cameo from a decidedly non-indie rapper: Kanye West. That guest appearance, however, is simply part of a remix of Kanye’s Yeezus hit “Black Skinhead.” While it’s the track you’ll hear about the most from Ideas+drafts+loops, to be sure, and a mostly enjoyable one – basically, jazz is injected into the original, which is simultaneously a noble experiment and unnecessary noise – it’s far from the album’s high point. Funny thing is, that might actually be the low point.

As with all FlyLo efforts, there is occasionally too much going on here (i.e., “Stonecutters,” the track he also contributed to the star-studded Grand Theft Auto soundtrack, or the almost nerve-wracking “Such a Square”) and, well, too little, like on the many “intro”-esque snippets that leave us wanting so much more … time! But almost everything else is, for lack of a better term, euphoric, and it is thus tough to gripe.

Flying Lotus is usually at his best when he just slows things down, and he exercises such restraint on this album – to incredible effect. “meadow man2” is a beautiful, spare instrumental whose employment of a harp actually serves to darken the song. “the diddler,” meanwhile, features an almost TNGHT-like beat layered with soothing atmospheric backgrounds; it’s pensive, rainy-day music by Flying Lotus. And “flotus” is a slow-building jazz track that crescendos with the type of perfectly timed beats for which any Flying Lotus fan knows and loves him.

None of the aforementioned cameos really stands out, as music-only Flying Lotus songs often seem to be far superior to those with singers/rappers (perhaps not named Thom Yorke). But the best such track comes courtesy of the least-known guest star: Niki Randa, singer for the L.A. band Blank Blue, who sounds meant to be on a Flying Lotus album. Their collaboration, “The Kill,” is something like an outstanding Purity Ring song.

The song, of course, was leaked earlier this year, and that isn’t an isolated incident on Ideas+drafts+loops. But that’s the biggest issue for the album. In other words, this is a superb listen and even better appetizer for the entrée that is Flying Lotus’s incoming 2014 LP.