A pair of iTunes singles, "Yonkers" and "Sandwitches," were made available just days before the "Fallon" appearance, and are the only pieces of music available from the camp at retail. The songs (credited to Tyler, the Creator) have sold 12,000 and 6,000 units, respectively.
Yet sales seem beside the point. OddFuture.com offers no less than 11 full-lengths for free download -- all self-produced. This model isn't particularly uncommon, especially in hip-hop where artists have been churning out semi-official mixtapes since forever, but Odd Future approaches it with an eye for detail that competes with major-label releases -- complete with tightly penned raps, sonic cohesion and thoughtfully executed conceptual arcs. This degree of refinement is impressive enough on its own, but even more so when you realize that it was effectively made in a vacuum by a bunch of hyperactive teenagers. They've built a self-contained world and diving into it is a lot like looking at Tyler's sketchbook. The coloring goes outside the lines, but the raw ideas are obvious.
Their visual sensibility is equally arresting. Tyler handles most of the crew's imagery himself, directing videos and designing artwork and fliers. He brings with him a built-in iconography, mostly tied to deviance, indulgence or childhood -- upside-down crosses, yearbook photos and human oddities. The resulting blend often looks more like something from an '80s punk or industrial demo. The videos have their roots in skate videos and youth-gone-wild, nonmalicious public spectacle shows like "Jackass."
Of course, Internet fame is notoriously fickle when translated into the real world. Odd Future has sold out every show it has put on, but they've all been small venues in large markets. It's still hard to say what percentage of the 2.5 million people who have watched the "Yonkers" clip were simply rubbernecking on the shock and buzz highway. It's also hard to expect roach-eating to connect across demographics. But the numbers will speak when "Goblin" drops.
"I could be a complete failure come June," Tyler says. " 'Goblin' could brick. Everyone could hate it. The hype could be over. I could be back to trying to fill out junior college [applications]." Then he snaps back into dreamer mode. "But I don't see that happening. I see Grammys."
Haha, maybe. But they had an article about you guys online, asking who the hell you are. And it had a quote in there—it said that you guys were terrifying, and that you would scare the shit out of parents and Republicans.
[laughs] I think that's funny.
Do you buy that description?
I don't think we're terrifying. I mean, you put me in an artistic category, I don't think terrifying would be the word. I mean, like, if people look beyond the gaudiness of Tyler’s video and actually see the effort that he put into making it, I think they'd appreciate it more. Like our music, the shit that we say, some people are like, “Oh my god! How can they come up with some shit like that?” Exactly, ask yourself that fucking question.
Do you think there's gonna be some backlash from some of your lyrics? From the Republicans and such.
Well, it’s not really about Republicans. I mean, I don't care who I piss off by saying anything because most of the shit that we say, if it’s not us being sincere to ourselves, it’s probably us competing in the studio to see who comes up with the most disgusting verse or some shit. So, they can talk all the fuck they want to but they're not there when the music's created. So, I'm not worried about anything.
So you guys actively try to one-up each other and push the envelope even further?
Oh hell yeah, hell yeah. That's why I think our music is so good. It's such a production. But a lot of, at our shows, the kids sing along to every fucking word so the lyrics must contain some type of catchy content or something that someone likes.
“They’re refreshing,” the U.K. songbird tells Rolling Stone. But her fans don’t seem to agree. After posting the controversial video for frontman Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” on her blog, they spoke out. “My fans weren’t happy.”