Goblin cries, black eyes, and tricky lies are all a part of our odd future — at least according to Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, a rap collective based in Los Angeles. Known for its wicked words and lighthearted chaos, Odd Future had its start in 2007 and instantly gained an underground following. Now this group is stepping into the mainstream with its first studio album, a worldwide tour, and a sketch comedy show. So prepare yourself, because the hounds have been released.
The alternative hip-hop collective of skateboard rats and pranksters identify themselves as “wolves”. The content behind the self-produced beats and videos has caused considerable controversy due to references to violence and enthusiasm for rebellion. Odd Future is notorious for vividly rapping about rape, murder, and self-destruction. Its lyrics, mostly written by front man, Tyler the Creator, have the ability to horrify yet include scholarly vocabulary. The original and random illustrations drawn by Tyler also cause interest. Some of the notable art include cats with lasers, unicorns, donuts, inverted crosses, and decorated sneakers, to name a few. These re-invented rappers are admired by many for their originality.
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The group includes 11 rappers, singers, and non-musical members who all hang out like rowdy brothers. Tyler the Creator’s wild and unorthodox behavior follows the mantra that has shaped the Odd Future culture, which is “Kill People. Burn S—. F— School”, as stated in the song “Radical”. Hodgy Beats is a rapper and producer who got involved in Tyler’s albums Bastard and Goblin. Left Brain, a record producer and also a rapper, produces portions of nearly all of Odd Future’s releases. Frank Ocean, a singer and songwriter who has written for singers like John Legend and Beyonce, joined Odd Future for its tour in May of 2011. The group is filled with sub-groups of other rappers like The Internet and Mellow High, who work on their own projects along with the production of Odd Future.
The latest album, Odd Future Vol. 2, was released in March of 2012. The album carries the same energy and camaraderie as previous works, but the constant wordplay and clever references to media and the band’s culture in the album’s lyrics make it stand out from their previous work. The first single off the album, “Rella”, featuring Hodgy Beats, was released on the Internet 10 months before the album’s official release. The video, produced by Left Brain, involves violence, drugs, and a centaur dressed in drag. It is eerily playful but lacks a sense of direction. The song centers around the group’s frustration with a “rella”, a girl who feels no shame and does crazy things. The band also expresses its feelings with its new mainstream status, “Under pressure, we just stand in the middle like hula hoops”, to say that they have arrived in the rap game and are in the middle of the hype.
“Lean” spews out male hormonal rage with every verse. The song can sometimes have a clumsy beat and includes the group’s usual antics of provocative lyrics.
The last song on the track, “Oldie”, features the group’s youngest rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, with more unknown members of Odd Future. The song is 10 minutes long and provides the major punch lines of the album.
Overall, the music on the album reflects earlier Odd Future works, with lyrics and videos that could make you lose your lunch. The album is more hazy and hypnotic, so new listeners should also check out Odd Future’s previous work to get a feel for its typical style. These menaces of the industry were previously overshadowed by overzealous personalities and shenanigans, but this album shows the mainstream what it have to offer.
Odd Future’s appeal is like that of watching a horror movie or riding a roller coaster. That gut-wrenching feeling is addictive, intriguing and instinctively thrilling. You will be appalled when you listen to the lyrics that seem to have been thought up by a musically-gifted psychiatric patient. But there is beauty in a mental breakdown and this band is creating honest and raw art.
In an oppressive society, Odd Future says to be whoever or whatever you want, even if it’s a unicorn. They don’t try to scare, they just want to share the inner demons, violence and terror that lurk within us all. They work hard, push boundaries and refuse to compromise themselves. Whether you’re a fan or not, that’s admirable. The brotherhood demands your attention, and then laughs because they made you look.