The Internet spawned from the Odd Future gold rush of the early 2010s. Core members Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians both played integral parts in the founding of the hip-hop collective before branching off to form their own jazz/soul/R&B project in 2011. That offers two lenses through which to view The Internet: They’re a group that draws relevance from past accomplishments while experimenting in other genres, or they’re one of the most engaging and well-rounded projects to come from a collective whose members have seen plenty of success. With their third album, Ego Death, The Internet continue maturing and fleshing out their sound, making use of a full band to back up Syd’s smoky vocals.
At the time of their debut, Purple Naked Ladies, The Internet was a two-piece, and Syd and Martians came to realize that formula wasn’t their best option. The implementation of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards has expanded the group’s sound into an R&B/soul version of Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. Barring Thundercat’s recent material, Ego Death has some of the filthiest bass lines of recent memory, like during the latter half of standout “Something’s Missing”. The song kicks off with bongos before Syd starts singing about a full tank of gas equating to a fresh start somewhere new. “Go With It” has a more rollicking bass line and blasts off with a verse from Vic Mensa that will send you back in time to his Kids These Days days. The Mensa collab isn’t the only exciting get on the record; Janelle Monáe joins Syd for the sultry “Gabby”, producer Kaytranada gets an assist on seven-minute slow burner “Girl”, and Tyler, the Creator stops by on closer “Palace/Curse” to play party host and do 100 percent more singing than rapping.
In addition to their more fully formed sound, one of the more exciting things about The Internet is the music’s point of view. While Syd had a hand in much of Odd Future’s early work, her personality wasn’t always visible in the final product. Alongside OF’s maturation, gender politics in the US have taken leaps and bounds, and we finally live in a United States that allows gay marriage nationwide. Ego Death’s arrival, then, feels serendipitous. An album sung entirely by a woman to another woman seems like it’s part of the new normal. With LGBT culture as mainstream as it’s ever been and The Internet fresh off their best album, the group seems poised for bigger and better things in the not too distant future.
Essential Tracks: “Something’s Missing”, “Go With It”, and “Gabby”