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Internet Sensation Odd Future Is Smarter Than We Think

From YouTube to Jimmy Fallon, OFWGKTA is shamelessly paving the way to DIY hip-hop dominance.
February 17, 2011, 9:56pm

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) is the name of a loose collective of rambunctious friends from Los Angeles who make their own beats, write their own raps, and film videos of themselves slapping each other. The group has also managed to glean some serious buzz in the music industry through a slew of albums and mix tapes released for free on the internet. In a little over two years, Odd Future has gone from uploading self-produced music videos to YouTube to, just this past Wednesday, performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon backed by The Roots. The group has gone from skating around in swagged-out thrift store threads to being featured in a short film by Larry Clark for New York Fashion Week, from stealing cans of Arizona Iced Tea from convenience stores to being asked by Lykke Li’s camp to remix her new single “I Follow Rivers.”

The founding member of Odd Future,Tyler (also known as The Creator), just released the video for “Yonkers,” a song off his forthcoming album Goblin. The video is representative of Odd Future’s DIY approach: Tyler made the beat, wrote the song’s lyrics, and partly directed the video. In it, he eats a cockroach, vomits, and then hangs himself.

Delving into the Odd Future universe is a dizzying experience. The tight-knit group has a nuanced understanding of popular culture, which it shamelessly disassembles with a refreshing blend of honesty, irony, and humor. These kids are as smart as they are provocative.

Another of Odd Future’s videos, titled “Earl Sweatshirt,” has Tyler interviewing band mate Earl about a skate trick he landed on camera. Tyler’s tone as he drills Earl with questions is earnest to the point of sarcasm. He asks Earl about his thoughts on the new Keith Sweat album, and what he plans to do after he attends the concert. Whenever vacant-eyed Earl starts to get an answer in, Tyler hits him with another question, playing the role of overbearing interviewer. The video cuts between a close-up of Earl and another scene, where he lands a small ollie on his skateboard. A particularly sultry R&B track plays in the background. The skate clip is played six times, once in slow motion, and once in reverse. In the background, someone is heard yelling “Send that to Supreme!”—a streetwear brand the kids are fond of.

“Earl Sweatshirt” is a good introduction for someone new to Odd Future’s brand of attention deficit, hyper-sarcastic humor. The video shows that fundamentally, Odd Future are just some kids at postmodern play, having fun while making fun of skate culture, the celebrity of extreme sports personalities, and most importantly: themselves.

Their ability to take themselves lightly, while remaining creatively driven is just one of the reasons to keep an eye on OFWGKTA. With the Singularity approaching, birds falling dead from the sky, and huge sinkholes devouring buildings, the future does indeed look odd—and this rebellious gang of rap jesters is as good of a group as any to be its heralds.