Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All


Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or Odd Future or OFWGKTA) are a Hip hop group from LA composed mainly of skate punks and rappers that float around the ages of 16 and 23. However, unlike many younger acts that may focus on novelty or their favorite hobby (they could easily sound like retreads of Lupe Fiasco skate-rap), they tend to go to places few other artists, Hip hop or not, are willing to go. Rape, Murder, Genocide, Homophobia, Racism, Celebrity Snuff: nothing is off-limits.

90% of their songs are about raping women, the best example being Tyler, the Creator’s “Sarah”, a song which reaches a peak near the 3 minute mark when he vomits out a line that’ll stick with you for weeks: “Bitch, you tried to play me like a dummy/Now you stuck up in my motherfuckin’ basement all bloody/And I’m fuckin’ your dead body, your cootchie all cummy/Lookin’ in your dead eyes/What the fuck you want from me?” These kids don’t play around.

Tyler, the Creator serves as the groups de facto leader and is the most visible and ubiquitous member; not only is Bastard their most well-known and critically-acclaimed album, but Tyler is the face of every hilarious video, guests or produces on almost every album, and is responsible for almost every piece of cover art. With so many responsibilities, it only goes to show how talented he is that each one of his hobbies produce aces.

His production sense is not unlike Madlib or JDilla or even Metal Fingers; where he differs is pacing and tech. His beats don’t sound cheap (even though they are), but rather aged. The drums are almost always fuzzed and lo-fi, synths sound like they belong in New Order songs, and samples are rarely vocal and tend to be almost distractingly uncomfortable (like the grating noise that accompanies the beat on “YONKERS”).

However, the combination is nothing short of infectious when you get down to it, meaning when you combine them with his serrated lyrics, you’re probably losing a limb to gangrene. Bastard, when not about rape and murder narratives that’d make the Geto Boys wince, is usually about a father he never met.

The album begins with “Bastard” which sets the tone of the album immediately: a visit to a school therapist, a beat consisting of little more than a few sparse piano chords and strings, and a pathos-ridden rap about suicidal thoughts, lacking a prom date, getting no attention, graduating without honors, and being a bastard.

Bastard‘s claustrophobic atmosphere opens up a bit, but is never far; “French” absolutely explodes out of “Odd Toddlers” and it’s laid-back Dilla beat, “AssMilk” starts out smooth only to bring in a hair-raising synth line when Tyler does his verses opposite of brother Earl Sweatshirt, and “VCR/Wheels” has a wide-open production that’s juxtaposed against it’s lyrics that use VCR tapes as a euphemism for stalking and a jealousy-ridden relationship.

The album ends strongly with the aforementioned “Sarah” and it’s necrophiliac tendencies and the closer “Inglorious” which picks up where “Bastard” left off. The guest spots on the album are terrific as well with Hodgy Beats lending two strong verses and with BranDun Deshay throwing in a a short but memorable verse on the excellent “Session”.

However if were talking guest spots, Earl steals the show; as the number two of the group, his rapping ability is easily one of the best in the OF. His lyrics depend much more on wordplay than the straight-forward gangsterisms of Hodgy Beats or the pop-culture metaphors of Tyler. However, he might be the darkest one in the group, though he is obviously not taking any of it seriously.

His verses (included those on his own EARL) occupy the same space as gross-out competitions that bored teenagers might engage in. “Listen busters, scarier when I finger fuck her/After I dig her up and then eat her out with a bit of mustard” is easily the most memorable line from his verses in “AssMilk”, but his very own album contains quite a few gems.

Earl is an extremely brief album, but stunning nonetheless. While it lacks the thematic push of Bastard, its an incredibly well-paced and much funnier album, though no less depraved with allusions to cannibalism, eating feces, and murder being made in the first 30 seconds of the title track 2 minutes into the album. The skits (if you can call them that) are some of the funniest you’ll ever hear on a hip-hop album and fit perfectly.

Seriously, this is how you do skits: clever, funny, and most importantly, short. With all of the great songs on it, the best of which might be “Pigeons”, its a shame to know we won’t be hearing Earl again for what may be a while.

Since last year, campaigns have started to “FREE EARL”, mirroring the “FREE WEEZY” trend with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Less humorously however, the general public have yet to know where Earl actually is: is he in jail? Juvie? Bootcamp? Boarding School? The only one who knows for sure is his brother Tyler, and he isn’t talking, repeating only “Hes on vacation” when addressed the question in interviews.

As tragic as it is for both sides, it only increasing the already boiling mystique of the group, who are already notoriously vague on interpersonal group dynamics; Tyler has never clamied to be the leader, members are added and dropped constantly (Where the hell did BranDun Deshay and Casey Veggies go? Is Super 3 still in OF or is he simply the Jet Age of Tomorrow now?), and yet again, where the hell is Earl?

While hes gone however, they have plenty of other rapping talent on their side, not the least of which is Hodgy Beats. Hodgy is one of the most active members, but is also the most underrated; his own Blackenedwhite album (released under the Mellowhype moniker with producer Left Brain) is an easy choice for the most accessible Odd Future album.

Maybe thats why its so underexposed, but even so it contains everything an Odd Future album is expected to have: dark, claustrophobic, and most of all, lo-fi production, lyrical dexterity, and of course, the incestuous guest spot habits.

“Brain” is an easy stand-out with plenty of lyrical hooks and a sullen, piano-laden beat. The song also features OF mainstay Domo Genesis, who abandons his usual, sometimes hackneyed weed shenanigans to rap one of the tightest verses in the OF catalog with lines like “Phonebook flow/This some shit you’ll never rip-off” and “Domo Genesis, there ain’t nothing next to that/Aiming for success and won’t fall for nothing less than that.”

Other highlights include “Hell”, which features a rare, honest R&B chorus, “Right” with its exotic bass flow, and “Chordaroy”, which features strong production from Left Brain and great guest verses from Earl and Tyler themselves.

Honestly, there are too many members of the group talk about in one article; we haven’t touched Domo Genesis’s own Rolling Papers and it’s weed-rap, Mike G’s excellent songs on the Radical mixtape and his impressive solo album Ali, and Left Brain, who supplements Tyler’s dark synth constructions with his own. Theres still Jasper, who may or may not even be a serious member along with Taco, and Super 3, who may not even be in the group anymore, with his production style has more in line with Nujabes than El-P like the rest of the members.

Idiosyncratic, offensive, and daring, Odd Future are pulling off what few artists can do and they’re doing it in their teens and for free. Their youth is an important aspect of their sound and philosophy, with their slap fights, skate videos, and irreverent humor making perfect sense in the bored teenage environment of LA’s suburbs. Tyler himself says in “Bastard” that he started Odd Future because he thought he and his friends could do it better than “40-year-old rappers talking about Gucci.” You’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence against something that daunting.

by Trevor “The Creator” Johnson


1 Comment

  1. 02/16/11: New Stuff « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Odd Future by Trevor Johnson LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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