Friday, 25 February 2011

Odd Future

"Quality. Cause motherfuckers are bored." I remember the words on the back of Def Jux Presents Volume 1 like they were burned on to my retina. That was 2002. In 2011, Def Jux has ceased to be the centrifugal force that it once was, lucky then that something new has just come to relieve the boredom.

Odd Future is the most exciting crew I have seen in ages. Tyler the Creator, Hodgy Beats, Earl and co are more like a punch in the face than a breath of fresh air. The internet is currently convulsing with debates about the near-the-knuckle lyrical content in the songs from the artists within the OF crew. Actually, they're not so much near the knuckle as leeches devouring the whole hand for the fuck of it. Even given that, all of this: "Oh are they sick, man? Are they real man? That guy Tyler is a faker man, thumbs up if you agree" bullshit is missing the point though. OF are so much more than the sum of their nasty words.

Lyrically OF are fucked up, there is no questioning that. As the saying goes though, it ain't what you talk about drugs and rape it’s the way you do it. On the bands wiki page that they have consistently denied being horrorcore when anyone tries to stick them with that label, and it doesn't come as a huge surprise. Trying to pin them down to something as limited as horrorcore does OF a severe disservice. Listening to Necro and the other doyens of the horrorcore scene was a cold experience. Behind the aggressive lyrical fronting, there was nothing else to grab onto, no substance or reason to care about whether what you were hearing was real or just calculated posturing. Listening to OF is completely different. They are the sound of youthful intelligence running buckwild; intelligence and personality seeping out of every syllable. It's not just about being controversial, it's about expressing the maelstrom of emotion and thoughts any kid worth paying attention to will undoubtedly feel. OF have personalities enormous enough to make the whole circus of dirty beats, sexual aggression and frequent vomiting in videos seem like a natural extension of themselves.

Everything that justifies OF to be as gloriously fucked up as they are was encapsulated in their recent performance on Jimmy Fallon. Tyler and Hodgy both appeared on stage in balaclavas: Tyler in Green with an upside-down cross on the forehead, Hodgy in black, minus the satanist imagery but no less menacing for it. After thirty seconds of Sandwitches the space around Hodgy and Tyler is so thick with malevolent energy Jimmy Fallon and the keyboard player from The Roots look nonplussed for a second, before they wisely come to the conclusion they are witnessing the first flush of two genii. It's not even a slight exaggeration to say that this is as striking a performance as At The Drive-In performing One Armed Scissor live on Letterman. The best part is though, behind all this craziness, OF just don't give a fuck. The giveaway comes at 1 minute 23 seconds when Hodgy can't stop himself cracking up after Tyler juxtaposes a line about aspiring to be Jeffrey Dahmer with breaking garden gnomes. As soon as the song ends Tyler jumps on Fallon's back with a grin the size of Texas and sticks his tongue even longer. OF are vibrant, alive, exhausting, thrilling, ugly, beautiful and fucked up. Everything young kids making music of any kind should be, but almost never are.

For any of you out there still debating about whether or not OF are for real or not, or whether to take them seriously, shut up. To those shying away from the lyrics, you're missing the point. OF matter. It's that simple. If they weren't worthy of your attention they wouldn't have it. They are the antidote to the boring autotune and bling bullshit spreading through hip hop like a virus. Stop questioning it and get on board.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome peice. It's interesting you mentioned the "At The Drive-In" Letterman performance. I've heard people compare it to Fear on SNL and Questlove keeps saying they're the new Bad Brains.