Odd Future, the LA based rap group, have been that “thing” this summer. That point of discussion we all seem somehow involved with. That pop culture blip defining our memories of this time period. That event we all have an opinion of. Odd Future is everywhere right now. They’ve hit that must talk, controversial, internet fueled, talent-obsessed fame that any up and coming artist dreams about. The popularity of the group is alive and well, and their words matter like no one else. Summer 2011 is their time.
I’m of the mindset though that this attention and favor for Odd Future will exceed the Summer of 2011, but I’m not sure it’s a common thought amidst the populace. With the debut of Tyler, the Creator’s Yonkers, I perceived the common reception of it to be something of a new musical fad. I sat within a college radio station as indie rock kids turned up their computer speakers, and right there – right fucking there – I got the feeling that people were seeing this as the new “thing.” But not a new thing in terms of longevity. Just a new thing for the month. Just another exploitation show with a nifty beat. You know, it would just be this violent splash of weird to wake people up, but within months the weird surface would grow old and then fade away like any superficial, catchy sound we hear in music.
I felt people would just overlook this music.
And that has been the case. While Tyler, the Creator has been a massive success, and the other members of Odd Future prep their own project debuts, I feel most people may view OF as some sort of freak show or lucky break that will die away. Most seem to simply view their music as loud and vulgar as they miss the point and doubt there’s room to dig deeper. Tyler’s proven you can dig deeper, though. Goblin, his second album, dropped months ago , and I still find myself sucked into his lyrics. The weird and outrageous are still a part of the aesthetic, but unlike most popular music there’s more below the surface of triceratops threesomes and rape jokes. The man’s going after the big, personal issues under a partially transgressive aesthetic. Even then, I don’t think that one sentence really covers it.
I’ve also enjoyed the guest appearances of other OF members on Tyler’s albums, but the physics and situation of Odd Future and Tyler seem similar to those of any other music group who tries to section itself into solo acts. One guy usually takes the whole cake. You can blame the usual group failing; that a band is defined by the lead singer with the goofy haircut or the guitarist with the alcohol problem. He with the image holds the band’s image; therefore, he holds the band’s potential and “talent.” It’s like that scene in Sid and Nancy as Gary Oldman’s Sid Vicious barters his role in the band because Nancy isn’t allowed on tour. Nancy says, “The Sex Pistols aren’t shit without Sid,” and she is partially correct. Vicious held tight the band’s identity.
For Odd Future, Tyler seems to be standing in that oh so infamous position. The dude is the breakout star and carries all of the attention as well as defines the idea of Odd Future by way of his language, style, and approach. I feel the chance of people accepting and expressing excitement for other non-Tyler, OF projects slim, and I even doubted myself to dig into other Odd Future projects. Why? Tyler’s work is just too cool and engrossing; I doubt anyone follows that up so soon.
they said a piece of my ambition’s ambitious
Last Tuesday, MellowHype dropped their album BlackenedWhite, and I found myself with a new anthem to blare. MellowHype is a duo group consisting of Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats and Left Brain; BlackenedWhite was previously available via the OF website, but this new release presents a remastered version while also shining some new attention on MellowHype in the post time of Tyler’s massive success.
Yeah, you better believe Odd Future’s here for the long haul.
This album sounds like a true anthem, to me. While Tyler’s music grabbed everyone by the throat, Bastard and Goblin were more about a young man exorcising demons through rhythm and rhyme. Both albums have pieces that inspire thoughts of, “Odd Future’s coming for you,” but I have to say that BlackenedWhite hits upon this idea in clearer, more determined fashion. I’d say most of this album is very, very good. Every song sports a combination of beats that alone are worth praising, and Hodgy, in the company of his companion Left Brain, brings the music to another sphere through his lyrics. I really like Tyler, but after listening to BlackenedWhite I honestly feel Hodgy may be OF’s secret weapon. The dude’s poetic and takes the transgressive element Tyler inspired to the next level. He mixes the weird and absurd into metaphors complicated enough to keep you busy for the day, and his flow holds such distinction.
The best of BlackenedWhite are the tracks Brain and Loaded, though. Over top sick Daft Punk/Tron inspired sound, Hodgy along with guests Domo Genesis and Mike G lay it down that Odd Future is here and the best.
You can quote me on my sentence nigga, catalog this
Odd Future wolves, ain’t some acid artists
A bunch of massive artists, hang up, I had to call this
We mosh through streets like a pack of walrus
So when we come around them niggas had to ball fists
In the middle of Brain‘s opening verse, Hodgy addresses the more than common doubt set upon Odd Future. He clears the mindset that OF is just some lucky success. They’re not “acid artists,” which I take to be musicians who poison or eat away at pop culture, but rather “massive artists” with big plans. They’re also loud and not ashamed to be so, and they’re not afraid to fight to do as they please.
Then Brain spills into its hook:
Man, when it came to school, I got bad grades
Now, when it came to the law, I didn’t know how to behave
My nigga, my, my nigga but with music, music, music
I’m on the honor roll, honor roll, honor roll
With music, music, music
I’m on the honor roll, honor roll, we on a roll
Hodgy may suck at school and have trouble finding place in society, but the dude knows music. He has the brain for it, and his brain is set on music.
Phone book flow, this some shit you’ll never rip off
Shitting on you niggas, I’m a level past piss off
Risk all to get all, I’m all in
Aiming for success and won’t fall for nothing less than that
Wolf Gang shit, got all my niggas repping that
If we ain’t it yet, somebody show me where the best is at
Domo Genesis provides these lyrics to continue the thought flow Hodgy has established. What Odd Future does is on another level. He dares you to try and rip it off, and encourages someone to find something better than them. I also dig the line “risk all to get all, I’m all in.” The guys of Odd Future dropped out of school to pursue music, and this line echoes that and the point that Odd Future, as a group, isn’t clowning around. They want this big time.
Loaded deals heavily in drug references to create the image of MellowHype selling “drugs” or more literally selling awesome shit a.k.a. their music. It’s a song that falls under the usual hip-hop portrayal of confidence, but the song works well in the context of the Odd Future story. MellowHype, or more general Odd Future, are the dudes to go to when you want the good stuff.
Mike G, in the song’s final verse, lays out these lines:
They ain’t learn? Hatin’ niggas won’t make your chain bigger
You’re comedy to me and crowds flee when your shit’s on
You get fake applause like a TV sitcom
Hate all you want, but in the end it will do nothing for you except make you look stupid. These lyrics work on two levels. While they speak for Mike G himself, these lines work well for Odd Future in general. The group has had much hate thrown at them. The vulgar content has attracted the attention of concerned critics as well as the everyday hater for just being so big. It’s just a nice, final say. Shut up. You look stupid. We’re doing our thing.
man it’s Golden
So how do I wrap this? I’ll just basically say that to anyone who considered Odd Future a one trick pony, that Tyler, the Creator was the only bit worth paying attention to, you’re wrong. I’m wrong. BlackenedWhite proves there’s more variety and thought in the Odd Future catalog than one would initially believe. It’s an album that speaks for the group’s musical talents by way of its sound and sub textual content. It’s simply another good, solid album from the Odd Future line, and that simple fact – that OF can produce a follow up worthy of Tyler’s quality – sells the point that Odd Future has it in them.
I’m thinking it’s time we become used to Odd Future. I think they’ll be here for awhile.