“I created OF cause I feel we’re more talented
Than 40 year-old rappers talkin’ ‘bout Gucci
When they have kids they haven’t seen in years.
Impressing they peers.”
-Tyler, The Creator “Bastard”
A lot has been written about Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. And if my intuition is correct, plenty more will be written in the coming months. Because Odd Future isn’t just going to become popular; Odd Future is revitalizing Hip Hop music. And more than anything else, the above quote perfectly encapsulates why.
When Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves in 1991, it was a shot heard ‘round the world. Seemingly overnight, empty, formulaic 80’s hair metal suddenly looked totally ridiculous to critics and fans. Rock music had become so cartoonish and mainstream that it had completely lost its relevance to the collective experience and worldview of the generation coming of age in the early 90’s. Hip Hop is currently in a very similar situation. Unemployment, particularly amongst the youth, is sky-high. Disillusionment with the establishment is also sky-high. I mean seriously; who wants to hear a bunch of aging rappers brag about their “wealth” from half-assed dance-pop singles and pathetically uncool endorsement deals? People need honesty.
Enter, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All.
As a collective, Odd Future espouses a musical philosophy that is defiantly democratic and all inclusive. You simply cannot put them in a box, which is essential to their undeniable power. The ages of the clique’s participants range from 17-23. Its members include prodigiously talented rappers, producers and visual artists. Domo Genesis’ work tends to hover around stoner rap, Earl Sweatshirt is an absurdly gifted and brutally offensive emcee in the vein of early Eminem, and MellowHype is a traditional-but-solid Hip Hop duo. Producer Super 3 makes otherworldly, jazz funk under the moniker Jet Age of Tomorrow, while Frank Ocean is a captivating R&B crooner. And then there’s Tyler, The Creator, the group’s leader and brainchild. His voice is deep and gravelly, his rhymes toe the line between the nakedly confessional and the genuinely disturbing, and his production is haunting, deceptively complex, and hard as nails.
And they have a DIY philosophy, having released a whopping 12 albums for free through their tumlbr. Not mixtapes; fully realized, consistently above-average, full-length albums.
And then there’s their presentation and live show. The group looks like a bunch of skater kids off the street; no rented jewelry and no Prada belts. In other words, they look like their audience. And there has never been a rap group so adept at harnessing the danger, unpredictability and fun of a no-frills, balls-out punk rock show. The music is imbued with a nihilistic energy that would make Lil Jon blush. The group’s supremely foul-mouthed members are charismatically erratic and manic throughout, antagonizing the crowd and stage-diving with total abandon. In other words, Parents and boring people will not like Odd Future.
When was the last time Hip Hop was this exciting and dangerous? Mark my words; Odd Future is the shot of badass, anti-establishment adrenaline Hip Hop desperately needs right now. All these safe, parent-approved rappers are already feeling the heat; flitting around trying to figure out how to co-opt Odd Future and weather the storm.
But it’s probably too late. And that’s a bad thing for them, but it’s a good thing for us.
And it’s a really good thing for Hip Hop.