all words: Marcus Dowling
all photos: Nick Balleza
Odd Future have all of the charisma and zero fucks to give.
Hip hop’s latest collective of id embracing and free spirited emcees performed early into Monday morning at the 9:30 Club to a sold out throng of kids obsessed with the ability to no longer have to care. 2011 in many ways has been their year.
Fully occupying the furthest left thinking of social mindsets, the multiple member crew’s performance is less live rap concert and more two hour detour into their world.
Odd Future’s cult style following is an impressive visual experience. When DJ Syd the Kid assumed the decks at roughly 11:15 PM, the entire lower bowl of the 9:30 Club became a surging ocean of undulating bodies. Their goal? To unite as a body politic in hearkening the on stage arrival of their deified heroes.
As Syd dropped all manner of 808 heavy and bass destroying beats, the worshipers at the Church of GOLF WANG were ready to assent to the “Radical” gospel of Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School. When rappers Domo Genesis, Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Jasper Dolphin and Taco L-boy, Mike G and the group’s charismatic leader Tyler, the Creator hit the stage, much like Boy George sang nearly 30 years prior, the church of the poison mind was in session.
Though named after a wolf gang and threatening to kill everyone, these kids are not idiots. Yes, much has been mentioned in the press about their “horrorcore” lyrics and antics. However, Odd Future’s longevity is entirely based in the fact that as time has progressed, the group has felt free to shed every marketing image used to position them as the most intriguing new collective in hip hop.
The New Yorker‘s Kelefa Sanneh solved the mystery of still yet freed lyrical prodigy Earl Sweatshirt, and if you listened to Tyler’s banter late Sunday night, he removed all doubt about pretty much everything else, too. “My name isn’t Tyler anymore. Call me Toilet,” the emcee stated, a clear shot at his growing popularity. Though in superhuman physical shape and possessing a rapier like wit, he denounced himself as a sex symbol.
Though clearly welcoming of the crowd loudly reciting his game changing pop hit “Yonkers,” he called the crowd “gay” and “fags” on numerous occasions and discussed how much he hates giving people autographs. Though a true posing, preening and vitriolic showman, he stopped the show to explain to the photo pit that “you only have three songs!,” then shooing them away from the front of the stage in a manner most comical. Most telling? He stage-dove feet first into the crowd, showing a youthful devil-may-care attitude that ingratiated him to the audience.
Odd Future’s live set is a circus, with all manner of jesters, clowns and yes, skilled specialists. Most notable of the truly skilled was Houston-native Mike G, a young man who blends the effortless and vibrant storytelling of classic UGK with a clear affinity for Odd Future ridiculousness.
In a generation where irony is hailed as truth and absurdity is reality, he brings a calming and typical sense of normalcy to the proceedings. His laconic style and insurgent flow has potential to reach superstar status. Of the other players, Left Brain is possibly hip hop’s best hype man, a gangly young man with tremendous facials and a perfect understated presence for Tyler’s histrionic antics.
Yes, Tyler the Creator’s “Transylvania” gleefully advocates the date rape of white women. Yes, as stated before, the group gets entire crowds to scream “kill people, burn shit, fuck school.” However, all of these songs are written and performed in an era where people understand that words contain motivation, but do not call people to mimic the suggested actions. This is the ultimate in fully ironic entertainment.
Tyler, the Creator and friends have found a way to express their creativity in a most violent medium. Making pop art of hip hop history, the crew have reduced societal deviance into explosive four minute pop ditties, proof that strange new times call for strange new solutions.