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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Radical collective: Deconstructing Odd Future

    Radical collective: Deconstructing Odd Future

    Not just a group of bug-eating skate rats, Tyler, The Creator and crew make up the polarizing rap collective Odd Future. The group members are quickly becoming the unlikely faces of a music industry overthrown by altering industry standards in an inventive way while still being the most diverse rap group of the decade.

    They are a revolutionary musical institution. They are known for penis jokes, cat print T-shirts, satanic references and one of the most effective marketing strategies in the music industry. They have a variety of talents, ranging from sheer lyrical genius to professional studio production.

    Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, aka OFWGKTA or the group’s most popular moniker, Odd Future, has skyrocketed into stardom from exceptionally humble beginnings. As a group of skateboarding, rapping suburban kids from Ladera Heights in Los Angeles, one wouldn’t expect Odd Future to produce the shockwaves that it has. Early incarnations of the group were punctuated by fumbling, tentative mixtapes such as The Odd Future Tape, on which the group began to hone its horrorcore values to an extreme. Its inclusion of skit-based and behind-the-scenes videos immediately granted it a fan base by reversing the industry standard — instead of crafting an image made to appeal, it tore any notion of a facade to pieces.

    This move was instrumental in Odd Future’s rise to power.

    Under the leadership of Tyler, The Creator, members assumed roles in ways that mirrored their genre’s predecessors. While people still swoon over Earl Sweatshirt’s Earl mixtape and Tyler’s “Bastard,” they often overshadow the brilliance that lies in Hodgy Beats’ collaboration with fellow member Left Brain, forming the quick-witted MellowHype. Hodgy’s lyrical fire plays foil to Domo Genesis’ Rolling Papers, where the smoothest rapper in the group lays down track after track of Raekwon-esque hip-hop. Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra deserves a mention, on which the oldest member of the crew croons like a codeine-laced Usher, and is the definitive atypical Odd Future release.

    Based on the viral success of Tyler’s gorgeous Goblin single, “Yonkers,” the pop-minded public became polarized. Tegan and Sara crucified the Supreme-wearing artist for his openly fictional misogyny while critics questioned his lyrical ability. What seems to have been missed in the fray was Tyler’s ability to utilize social media to ignite his little grassroots group into a pop culture wildfire. By engaging fans on Tumblr, Twitter and Flickr, he managed to maintain the same initial bare-bones connectivity that made the group so appealing in the first place.

    Despite your personal stance on Tyler, Odd Future, or any of its elements, it is undeniable that under Tyler’s direction, Odd Future has become a marketing juggernaut. Tyler’s nonsensical doodling is the unlikely badge for the band, lending an idiot-savant quality to the collective. The group has also become a brand unto itself, installing pop-up stores with city-exclusive merchandise at each tour date, making its merchandise and its name collectibles.

    Outside of the business theme, it’s important to remember that while known for its shock-and-awe tactics, Odd Future is groundbreaking in a modern way: It can operate within itself, and still maintain a balance. For Tyler’s misogyny, we have Syd Tha Kid’s heralding as the first openly gay female rapper. For Domo’s polished flow we find Earl’s youthful brilliance, and for Hodgy’s neck-snapping side project there’s Frank Ocean’s soulful introspections.

    Odd Future is a multifaceted cross-section of a young, tangible unrest. Its members characterize this spirit by a lack of inhibition and a hunger to expand. Above all, they are more than a riveting image. Odd Future is forcing pop culture to redefine marketing and imagery while simultaneously carving an expansive niche like no one before.

    — K.C. Libman is a senior studying ecology and evolutionary biology and creative writing. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatArts.

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