Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All —the L.A.-based hip-hop collective that released The OF Tape Vol. 2 this past week—is like the Jackson Pollock of hip-hop in that no one can rule definitively on whether they’re brilliant or an embarrassing con.
Since exploding onto the national hip-hop scene last year, Odd Future has followed the dictates of ringleader Tyler, The Creator into an expanding array of multimedia projects. From their humble (and not too distant) roots as jackass teens skateboarding all over L.A., Odd Future has expanded to a multimedia enterprise that releases videos, creates odd websites, has a TV show on Adult Swim, causes the occasional riot, pisses of the occasional recording legend, and makes some of the world’s strangest hip-hop. Also like Jackson Pollock, the group enjoys flinging shit all over the place and calling it art.
Reviewing an Odd Future record is a difficult task because the group exists in a sort of parallel universe wherein only its own standards count. Of course, this is the appeal of the group as well. Like earlier Odd Future releases, production on The OF Tape Vol. 2 is handled entirely by Tyler, the Creator, whose beats sound like they were composed with a bargain-bin synthesizer and a pirated copy of Pro Tools. When the Odd Future first emerged about this time last year, this aesthetic was the result of necessity. Despite a change in material means, the group has maintained its raw style, ostensibly because it just doesn’t give a fuck.
Odd Future’s lyrics (especially those coming from Tyler, the Creator) are low on wit but unrivaled in the glimpses they offer of pure id. Par examplé: “I’m fighting for gun rights to shoot a n***a in his dome” (Tyler, the Creator on “P”); “Bitches on my dick look at me I’m fucking beautiful” (Domo Genesis on “Rella”); “Yeah! Balls in my hand! Monster cock!” (Hodgy Beats on “Lean”).
Much has been made of Odd Future’s misogyny, and The OF Tape Vol. 2 will add plenty of fuel to that fire. But, again, self-censorship is just not something Odd Future does.
Even amongst these lyrical oddities, Frank Ocean, OF’s resident crooner, earns himself distinction as the strangest constituent of The OF Tape Vol. 2. Ocean—a singer whose ghostwriting credits include Justin Bieber and Beyoncé—frequently lays down hooks in a smooth falsetto that runs valiantly contrary to the grain of Odd Future’s “all elbows” M.O. It seems likely that Tyler, the Creator met Ocean, thought he was a cool dude, and invited him to join Odd Future, aesthetic considerations be damned. It’s this utter abandonment to whim that makes the Odd Future so fascinating and, at the same time, one of the most frustrating hip-hop groups out there.
It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which The OF Tape Vol. 2 would make for appropriate listening, but the Odd Future demands attention nonetheless. By all indications, Odd Future really is that weird. And that, in and of itself, deserves some praise.
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