Artists Of The Year

CMU Artists Of The Year 2011: Odd Future

By | Published on Thursday 8 December 2011

Odd Future

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All had their unofficial coming out party at this year’s SxSW showcase; toasted by music writers and industry types alike as a hip hop revelation and the true torchbearers of the underground flame. Ever since that breakthrough moment of sorts, the LA ‘skate-rap’ collective’s many factions have released a prolific run of singles, albums and mixtapes, harnessing the social potency of Tumblr and Twitter on a scale bordering on revolutionary.

Amongst the side projects still simmering under the media glare, there’s Hodgy Beats’ highly listenable MellowHype debut, OF’s resident out feminist Syd Tha Kyd and her Matt Martians collaboration The Internet, CMU approved fringe affiliate Pyramid Vritra, not to mention the promising sounds coming from the drowsy countenance of one Mike G.

Of course, in no small part due to OFWGKTA figurehead Tyler, The Creator’s knack with the provocative soundbite, the group are often mentioned more for their off-record exploits than for their non-stop touring and prolific studio output. From rapper Left Brain’s alleged assault on a photographer, to the much-discussed absence of core MC Earl Sweatshirt, apparently exiled to a juvenile reformatory in Samoa, to that Tegan And Sara homophobia beef, OF have proved easy fodder for controversy.

Tyler, especially, is as ferocious in his lyrical onslaughts as in his defence of the disparity between his on-stage persona and real-life self. “I guess my dark side comes out in my music, but it’s just weird that so many people think I’m such a fucking evil person. I don’t fucking hate gay people. I’m probably one of the least homophobic rappers in the world. I don’t fucking discriminate”, he said in Odd Future’s recent sprawling Spin cover story, a must-read.

Wilfully immune to the hype and inevitable backlash, it seems the collective won’t be deterred from doing things the OF way. Take the group’s superstar crooner, Def Jam drop-out Frank Ocean, who, despite lending his voice to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s ‘Watch The Throne’, declined to have West feature on his own debut record.

Amid all this, the collective also found time to launch their own label as a hub for portions of their output, most likely the more experimental parts (the company’s first proper release, The Internet’s debut album, is due out in January), as many members already have other deals in place, including Tyler’s with XL.

The band’s manager Chris Clancy confirmed to MTV in April that although that venture is a partnership with Sony’s RED Distribution, the OF collective are very much in charge. “They have creative control”, he said. “They can call it Fuck Off Records by noon. When it comes down to building this label within itself, it’s going to be all of us sitting down and doing it and building a schedule. Full creative control, it’s not just the creative control, it’s the business control. It’s both”.

So, if Odd Future have nothing else going for them, they at least have their independence. Sort of. But let’s end this with the video that boosted Odd Future’s ascension at the beginning of the year, with a visual and verbal manifesto as boldly brash as Tyler is himself. Yep, it’s the first track released from his ‘Goblin’ album, ‘Yonkers’:

Find more of CMU’s ten Artists Of The Year here.