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Aesthetic Considerations: A$AP Mob and Odd Future, Part 1

Any lingering doubts about A$AP Mob’s ability to define the next decade of hip-hop have been handily dispelled in the wake of its Lord$ Never Worry mixtape. In addition to building anticipation for its various solo releases, he crew’s sudden ascendance has placed it in an odd position with regards to hip-hop’s other reigning clique of the moment: Odd Future.

One hails from LA, the other from New York; one lists toward skate-punk pranksterism, the other makes some legit-sounding claims to gangster bona fides.

Though they’re both operating within the same genre, A$AP Mob and Odd Future have taken cares to develop singular brands, and their aesthetic preferences go a long way towards defining what separates the two groups.


Part 1: Odd Future

In general, Odd Future paints with a broader brush than its East Coast counterparts. Take Tyler The Creator’s smash-hit video for “Yonkers,” which builds to the shock-and-awe crescendo of Tyler hanging himself. It’s a visual as striking as his shirt, and as confrontational as his verses.

Odd Future has proven more willing to employ humor as well in its ongoing crusade to upset the status quo. Hell, they’ve even made a whole TV show about their comic exploits. In addition to displaying the crew’s general exuberance, Odd Future’s willingness to, say, dress its frontman up as a coke-snorting centaur, implies that it’s working with stakes somewhat different than the hard-as-shit A$AP Mob.

Throughout these videos for “Rella” and “Sam is Dead,” the conflict being addressed is more mental than external, and what external conflicts there are (Vietnam, apparently) serve mostly as window dressing.

The cat t-shirts, the beat-up Vans, the gold-plated pistol—every aspect of the Odd Future’s aesthetic is intentionally oversized. These Technicolor flourishes play an essential role in the group’s overall campaign to be perpetually noticed, a goal at which they have largely succeeded. What’s most interesting about that ambition is that it apparently elicits the sympathy of Odd Future’s (mostly teenaged) fans.


Coming up: Part 2 of this feature, in which we take a look at A$AP Mob. 

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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

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