For the past year or so, Odd Future has been something of an anomaly. Boasting die-hard fanatics on one side and fist-shaking dissenters on the other, I never quite knew what to make of them. Their style never spoke to me, that’s for sure, and I’ve noticed that this has been the similar experience of others in the industry. Most have pegged them as a ‘horrorcore’ group, much like their grim 90’s forefathers Gravediggaz, yet Odd Future has dismissed that moniker. With their “We don’t give a fuck” attitude, bizarre media appearances, mind-bogglingly sadistic lyrics, and seemingly manic productivity, Tyler, the Creator and crew seem to have accomplished what they set out to do: achieve fame while completely disregarding public opinion. Its kind of hard to root for a group that seems hell bent on destroying any positive PR, causing mayhem for mayhem’s sake, yet strangely, I’ve recently found myself doing just that.
Upon closer examination, perhaps OFWGKTA is a bit more profound than previously suspected. When we think of the incredibly exaggerated personas of those within the crew, a bunch of skateboarding punks with an affinity for cartoons and rape fantasies, it can be argued that this intense hatred for the status quo is more performance art than actual sentiment. By dismantling pop culture, Odd Future seems to be making a rather poignant comment on youth in today’s society (fitting, as none of the members are over 24). And the strangest part of all? These kids actually have the talent to back it all up.
The real genius of the group lies in its producers, who create some of the most stunningly original beats in Hip-Hop today. Although they may be wasted on some truly unlistenable music, the pure scope of talent in this core group cannot be ignored. Notable productions from members Left Brain, Matt Martians, Syd tha Kid, and Hal Williams infuse the albums with some real groundbreaking musicality. While the content of Odd Future’s catalogue may leave much to be desired, the beats stand out as some of the finest. Interestingly enough, the members who do not base themselves solely in Hip-Hop are the ones who stand out the most, ushering in a completely different sensibility and sound. Groups within Odd Future such as the Internet and Jet Age of Tomorrow create some honestly refreshing music: a spacy, LSD fueled mix of funk, house, and Hip-Hop that is so hard to pinpoint it deserves to be a genre of its own.
Odd Future’s internet presence is also an interesting one. Filled with snide comments that seem to just give the middle finger to its own fans, it also has the uncanny ability to form a deep-rooted sense of community. Almost all new releases by any member are offered as free downloads (they only ask that after you get it, you go out and purchase the hard copy). Obviously, this is a group that understands the importance of sharing and distributing music quickly and easily. They’ve also begun to corner the fashion market with their own, albeit wacky, clothing line, selling t-shirts with cat faces and “Golf Wang” logos. An odd choice, for sure, but I guess that’s to be expected. With this do-it-yourself attitude, Odd Future has set themselves apart as an entirely separate entity, completely self sufficient with enough talented minds to keep the fans begging for more.
In recent months, the crew has been grabbing the attention of other artists and producers, including Jay-Z and Kanye West, and rumors are beginning to circulate regarding numerous collaborations with several other big names in Hip-Hop. So, with all of these mainstream accolades and opportunities, perhaps we shouldn’t continue to think of Odd Future as a group of underground misfit teens with a propensity for vile lyrics. Their talent, slowly but surely, is being recognized.
Recently, Hodgy Beats, one half of the flagship group Mellowhype, released his first solo EP as a free download on OddFuture.com. Featuring a pretty big guest list of producers (especially for an Odd Future kid) from Juicy J, The Alchemist, Flying Lotus, Jonti Danimals, and Thelonious Martin, Hodgy Beats definitely proves himself to be one of the most talented artists in the group. Surprisingly, for an EP, every song is solid. No filler here.
Notable tracks include “Cookie Coma”, featuring a very interesting production by the Alchemist, almost accapella in nature, with Hodgy rhyming over a stand-up bass and horn track devoid of any drums. It’s an interesting choice of music that offers a lush sonic background as he laments about his sudden rise to fame.“
If Heaven Is A Ghetto”, although short at just under 2 minutes, is another instant classic reminiscent of the early 90’s East Coast sound, where producer Thelonious Martin offers up a jazzy, bass heavy beat that sounds like a nod to A Tribe Called Quest. Here we find Hodgy at his most honest (and clean), starting off fairly whimsical, then ending with a chorus that shuts down all of Odd Future’s haters with self-confident certainty.
Hodgy then joins fellow OF producer Left Brain to end the album with “Higashi Loves You”, a slick, mellow track with distinct 80’s style keyboards that gives the listener a relaxed, hypnotic feel. It seems fitting that he ends the album with his Mellowhype partner, ostensibly giving the listeners a taste of what’s to come.
While the Untitled EP was released with little fanfare and offered up free, it shouldn’t be ignored as just another disposable mixtape. Even if it was just a quickly put together side-project, it really shows how much Hodgy Beats has matured as an artist and, in my opinion, has quickly become the best MC in Odd Future.
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