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Okay Guys, That's Enough With The Odd Future Think Pieces Already

Okay Guys, That's Enough With The Odd Future Think Pieces Already

Before we begin here, I'd like to note that I love Odd Future. They're the most daring thing to happen to hip-hop in the last few years, and I think they may constitute hip-hop's first true DIY success story, as they seem poised to only sign with labels for distribution, as opposed to other Internet dudes--say Wiz Khalifa--who end up at the beck and call of a label's whims.

 

What I've come here to do is to puncture a hole in the entire Odd Future think piece industry, a thing that has cropped up on the Internet in the last few days in which supposedly smart music critics try--and always, always fail, my above thing included--to encourage the uninitiated to listen to the group. These pieces then talk about how they rap about rape like that is something that has mattered in hip-hop since, oh, 1993. The progenitor of this kind of piece is Zach Baron in the Village Voice, who might as well be the O.G. of this industry.

 

It seemed like the lengthy profile of the group in Spin this month (so far, the best story about the group) was going to be the end of the Odd Future think piece industry, but no, it's flourished after the group played Fallon. My esteemed colleague, Craig Jenkins (who I should note turned me onto Odd Future last year), was the one who hipped me to the new wave of Odd Future pieces, calling, sorta rationally, for a moratorium on Odd Future pieces until April (which is when Tyler, the Creator's Goblin is due for release). 

 

And he has a point. Just in the last 24 hours, we've seen a piece from the perspective of the group's ride out of New York on MTV.com (which has an astoundingly stupid headline), another one of those "You should listen to Odd Future, even if you find lyrics like "punches to the stomach where that bastard kid is supposed to be" deplorable" pieces on NPR, and a story at Village Voice about the return of Tyler the Creator's FUCKING SHOE.

 

And that's only the three pieces I didn't have to look hard for. I'm sure there are a dozen more floating around the edges of the blogosphere (this one included...I'm part of the machine!!!!!), but seriously, Internet, this is why people hate us. Odd Future are great, but often all these pieces just read like someone being forced to engage with Odd Future (probably by an SEO-minded editor), and then deciding that they need to convince people to listen to them, and then adding caveats by the gallon. 

 

Ironically, the NPR piece I reference above sort of makes these same points, but at the same time, the writer writes off the lyrics wholesale (he says that they're the least interesting part about the group, which isn't true, at all), and then uses a Wire writer to make the point that Odd Future are better rappers than everyone right now. Which is extreme, and stupid. And proves none of those dudes got deep enough into Odd Future to listen to Frank Ocean. 

 

All of which leads to this: The most interesting part of Odd Future's music, so far, is how chronicled it's been. Can you name another group that has had 1,000 word brain busters in Wire magazine, NPR, Spin, Pitchfork, Village Voice, New York Times, the New Yorker before any of them have even put an album on a store's shelves? This is, I guess, the new development in buzz bands. Someday, someone will be able to write a 33 1/3 book about Bastard, and be able to consult a billion think pieces about the music on it. And is that bad? I'm not sure, really. 

 

I guess the concern, for Odd Future's handlers especially, is what happens when the blogosphere moves on? It'll probably happen when someone finally writes the defining PopMatters piece about the feminist perspective towards Odd Future. And what happens when Hodgy Beats releases a proper debut album, and it has a swastika smoking a blunt on the cover?

 

It's a shame that we're going to box these cats in with our ponderously dumb pieces about how we can "overlook" rape lyrics and lo-fi beats, about how they're a "fuck you" moment for a hip-hop, about how they're "revolutionary" before they even make a proper launch into the mainstream consciousness. We're at the very real point where we'll have more writing about what the group MEANS than actual music. And that's pretty crazy. So let's do it guys: No new, giant pieces where we consider the meaning of Odd Future until they put an album out again. Enjoy the fuck out of the records until then.    

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Odd Future
Tyler the Creator

WIN.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

^ what he said.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Bildungsromania/djkittygalorejpg.jpg Bildungsromania

Are we still allowed to talk about the music, and not Tyler the Creator's shoe? Because I really like the music.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/hybridxdawn/toropovbioimage.jpg dtoropov

I'm definitely going to keep posting their music and whatnot on here, but I agree that we all need to tone it down.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

I guess my point is that those pieces aren't really ABOUT the music, insomuch as they are about how you should REACT to the music. If I have to read another thing mentioning how they rap about rape, and about how you can still enjoy it, if you just listen to the music, I'm gonna kill someone. I think it was in the NPR thing, but there's a point to be made about how no one has any problem with rappers like Rick Ross rhyming about murder and coke, but if you mention punching a pregnant lady, you've crossed the line to the point where writers feel the need to add caveats about listening to the group.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

I have literally no problem with posts about the music--but these giant pieces about how you should listen to them "even though it's hard" are so stupid.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Seems that the music industry/journalists/fans are desperate for something new and exciting. In the internet age this allows us to smother this new thing before it's even born. Kind of reminds me of when dubstep was first blowing up.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Shuffles/27370_1427928132_1464_njpg.jpg Shuffles

Watching the internet prop up acts and shît them out a year later is the new game. I don't think the attention is undeserving, but the scale of it all is surprising. I only wonder if they'll survive it.

Also quit telling the interwebz how to live andross!

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Al/batmulletjpg.jpg Al

Agreed, storfer. Talking about rape for shock value isn't interesting to me, but being obsessed with finding out why rape (or vomitting or kiling yourself etc) is so shocking is, which is what I think Tyler's doing.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/hybridxdawn/toropovbioimage.jpg dtoropov

PS - so glad you mentioned Frank Ocean, mang.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

i think they're pretty great but it is funny how so many ppl are up in arms of their lyrics. they're actually tame compared to stuff like Necro

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

Right ^^

Plus, people don't seem to realize that a lot of their stuff is comparable to most battle-raps...they're just a touch more vulgar.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

People have forgotten to talk about how good Tyler's production is. That's what makes the lyrics so dark.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/hybridxdawn/toropovbioimage.jpg dtoropov

I like OFWGKTA as well. I've never forced them on anyone. Cuz they are definitely not for everyone. I've suggested it to people who I think may like it, but that's about it. The long and short of it is that they are all KIDS @ the moment. They are getting the press that a publicist has wet dreams about. Everyone wants in on the ground floor. Barring any crazy mishaps, OFWGKTA have nowhere to go but up from here.

Dee Phunk

This is a thinkpiece about thinkpieces-- how do you not see the self-parody in that?

Also, this:

"And what happens when Hodgy Beats releases a proper debut album, and it has a swastika smoking a blunt on the cover?"

Is projecting and not funny and just sort of misguided

Young Frankenstein

Dude, I mentioned I was part of the machine. As for that last part, I'm saying what happens when something in the group's visual pallet offends someone? I'd expect the caveats about them being offensive to take a tougher tone.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Hell-of-a-write-up my friend! I'm glad to see someone is NOT pigeonholing them. They are a truly eccentric bunch with many different diversities of music amongst them. Overall, this was a great piece.

uNCovered 3rd PR

Hah, i think that you're maybe attributing too much influence to the dialogue created by music journalists/bloggers? I think it goes for the vast mjaority of acts, that most of the people who consume their music don't really pay too much attention to the Pitchfork/Popmatters/Sasha Frere Jones/Village Voice chatter about them, and those thinkpieces are mostly for people like us. I also think it's worthwhile to discuss acts who are clearly supposed to be evoactive, like Odd Future.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mattycakes/Kate+Bush.jpg mattycakes

^^^ what she said.

also nice write up. super on point.

WULU

I like this piece, but I think it illustrates why it's *good* to have more think pieces on the group. Your post and Frannie Kelley's in NPR are both mostly on point IMO and actually complement each other well. I'd rather have both than have neither.

90% of writing on any topic will be clueless, but I prefer that to having everyone ignore the most compelling story of the day so I won't have to sift through to find the smart voices.

btw that's not just "some writer from the Wire" she quoted, it's Noz from Cocaine Blunts :)

Jay Smooth

It's lame how one dimensional the coverage is, though. This is a versatile crew. You've got Domo Genesis and Mike G doing stoner trash talk, you've got Hodgy on the militant gun talk/self empowerment bit, you've got Frank Ocean and Jet Age doing washed out R&B and funk... You'd think Odd Future was the Earl and Tyler Rape and Kill Women Show, and it's not.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

Craig...you win, too.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Andrew_Martin/me.jpg Andrew_Martin

If these were 5 white kids artfully and skillfully rapping racist
epithets against blacks and jews, no one would be defending them regardless of how incredibly talented they are.

So why are women and gays still fair game?

SFGooner

You can like music regardless of disagreeing with the lyrical content. Duh.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/wkatzen/49885_1437590449_2725171_njpg.jpg wkatzen

Those Kayne tweets probably wont help this situation

/site_media/uploads/images/users/prefix/no-user-pic.gif greenj18

Check out our interview with Domo Fenesis at six4teen http://six4teen.com/blog/?p=24

Sam from Six4teen

"I think they may constitute hip-hop's first true DIY success story, as they seem poised to only sign with labels for distribution"

Master P anyone???????

who cares

Andross (and Craig in the comments, among others), you're definitely onto something about the futility of writing about these guys and, really, about how its a way to brand those writing about them as very cautious tastemakers who recognize some brilliance in this, but refuse to fully side with their personas (and that's what they are, by the way, personas).

So yeah, some of it fills space, but I also think its a way to try and figure out a group that is, in a lot of ways, inexplicable. Their sound is great because it's so slippery, their personas dive so deeply into a violence and vulgarity we expect from hip-hop that it makes us both uncomfortable and (hopefully) more aware of how odd it is that we take that crassness for granted. I guess my point is, these guys are endlessly interesting, but the issues they bring up are still fresh, unformed, and not quite ready to be figured and out and articulated, so I'm all for hanging back and letting these guys get some releases out that we can spend time with and think about and then respond to, instead of reacting prematurely.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mfiander/profile.jpg mfiander

P.S. -- I also fully realized that what I hope for in the statement above will never happen. Because, you know, the internet.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mfiander/profile.jpg mfiander

Their lyrical content isn't all that far from Marshal Mathers LP-era Eminem, either. I think the difference comes FROM their production, it's so gritty and raw and the delivery personal instead of cartoonishly huge that it makes you believe in everything they say. Their crew is too diverse and complex to properly articulate everything on them, so I totally agree that we need to step back and let the group breathe a bit, but they're impossible not to think about because of that diversity and the challenge they present.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/ChrisBosman/Bio Pic.jpg ChrisBosman

Problem is there's like five nearly identical think pieces written literally every day about these guys. Most of the coverage is presumptuous, and very little of it contains any right minded discussion of the actual music, and most of the pieces that do talk about the sound of the artists are possessed of a painfully myopic viewpoint. No one is digging very deep, and no one is saying anything new. That's why I called for a temporary moratorium on OF pieces. Cause hacks are cluttering the dialogue by making entirely too much fuss about the more sensational aspects of the OF phenomenon. I guess Hodgy's lyrical prowess, Left Brain's spaced out production, and Domo's foggy musings on altered states just don't make good copy...

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

^^^^^^^^^^^ COSIGN THIS

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

I don't know if they don't make good copy, but I do know they don't challenge traditional thinking in anything close to approaching the same way.

Now, I agree with pretty much everything you said. But at the same time I understand the need of a variety of people to try to understand the more sensational aspects through the lens of pop culture. There have been entirely too many pieces and a lot of them with no depth, but I'm certainly not going to stop thinking about that stuff because it's way more intellectually intriguing to me than just a technically good rapper.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/ChrisBosman/Bio Pic.jpg ChrisBosman

But Hodgy Beats isn't just technically solid--his verse on the uncut version of Sandwitches is pretty flawless, and Domo Genesis is doing stoner rap in a way that hasn't been done--it's essentially psych rock in rap form. But that stuff NEVER gets talked about. It's like we're no better than tabloids, in some sense. It's like, 'We value artistic expression and uniqueness over all else......wait THESE KIDS ARE RAPPING ABOUT RAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

Frank Ocean is the new R. Kelly, except he doesn't pee on women. Actually, Frank might do that.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/hybridxdawn/toropovbioimage.jpg dtoropov

"I think they may constitute hip-hop's first true DIY success story, as they seem poised to only sign with labels for distribution"

WHAT?! I can name 20 others.

Young Melon

They are black, West Coast Juggalos.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/peaceatmosphere/me fat small.jpg peaceatmosphere

Not only is the "hip hop's first DIY success story" statement preposterous in regards to the many, many examples anyone who has listened to rap could name in 5 seconds, but also disregards the fact that hip-hop music itself BEGAN AND WAS INVENTED AS A DIY ART FORM.

These dudes are fine, but very over-rated and brilliantly marketed. By whoever is marketing them, them, or their manager.

arbo

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