While BuzzFeed is often thought of as an internet destination where you switch your brain off and coast amidst images of frumpy cats and various listacles that draw upon ’90s nostalgia, writer Kevin Lincoln delivers a lengthy and enjoyable read that chronicles Christian and Kelly Clancy – who collectively manage the various exploits of Odd Future. Following the group as they prepare for a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, the piece sheds a spotlight on the integral role that the husband and wife team play in allowing the group’s exploits to remain true to their personalties while still ensuring that a certain imaginary line isn’t crossed. While choice excerpts appear below, head over here to read the piece in its entirety.
As Kelly Clancy leans against a wall, typing into her iPhone, her husband Christian Clancy reclines splay-legged on a sofa backstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg prior to a March performance by Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. After arriving late to the venue thanks to bus troubles, the retinue of 20 or so people, including performers, crew, and others with less easily defined job descriptions, resembles nothing more than a quivering, over-caffeinated hive of kids. It also includes a literal kid, Chloe, the Clancys’ adorable 5-year-old daughter, who keeps herself firmly in the mix, sporting an Odd Future neo-cat-face sweatshirt. The Clancys are, in every respect, the resident grown-ups, fielding questions great and small.
So when one of the many peripheral rank-and-file members of Odd Future — the group includes a boundary-fluid cast of individuals, some contributing to visual art, some players on their frenetic Adult Swim sketch show Loiter Squad, others just around because they’re cool — wants to smoke weed backstage, he knows who to ask. “You have to be unbelievably careful,” Christian warns from the couch. “It’s an all-ages show, and the cops are afraid of Odd Future.” The question is not meant to be rebellious; it’s a genuine request for advice, answered not with condescension but sensibility.
Meanwhile, the Music Hall of Williamsburg backstage area is, presumably, not designed for skateboarding, but Tyler, the Creator is making do. Comma intentional, diabolically restless, so spindle-thin he’s like a geometry problem, the rapper birth-named Tyler Okonma is literally riding off the walls of the crowded hallway connecting the dressing rooms. Meanwhile, other members of the coterie, which includes Earl, comedians/hype men Jasper Dolphin and Taco, and suave rapper Mike G, swirl around, sopping with excess energy. The word GOLF — a partial spoonerism of “Wolf Gang,” as in “Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All,” the group’s proper name — is on everything, including Tyler’s green hat.
Amid all of this, the Clancys — Christian, 42, a salt-and-pepper-bearded white guy wearing a gray sweatshirt, black jeans, and a Supreme hat, and his wife Kelly, 33, an Asian-American woman with long straight hair in black skinny jeans and a sweater emblazoned with a tiger’s face on the front — exist both above the fray and in the middle of it. Raised in the trenches of the major-label ’90s hip-hop apex, the Clancys learned how the old heads thought, and how the old business worked and didn’t. And when they serendipitously encountered a squad of gifted kids, the rawest of raw material, they took their knowledge of the trade and subverted it and became architects of a new system. They’re building careers, not hits, and by already branching out into filmmaking and commercial production and a brand-consulting company before most of these kids are old enough to so much as buy a six-pack, and before some of them have so much as completed proper albums, they’re bending the industry to fit their artists, not the other way around.
“Odd Future goes through our distribution channels but they have so much more control of their music,” Columbia Records Vice President of A&R Imran Majid told BuzzFeed earlier this year. “We put out a deal that favored what they were doing as entrepreneurs, where it wasn’t focused on ‘You need to find a hit song,’ it was, ‘OK, you are the hit act, this is a hit movement.’”
A favorite metaphor of the couple’s: Like soil sprouting different plants, all with their own purposes and rewards, Odd Future (as well as hardcore band Trash Talk and, crucially, budding R&B superstar Frank Ocean) have bred projects spanning the spectrum of entertainment. All of this happens under the aegis of the Clancys’ management company, 4 Strikes. And much of the responsibility is extracurricular: It bleeds into family. The Clancys help the OF kids buy cars and manage their money, they help liaison with their moms.
As the chaos reaches something like a fever pitch, more and more people filling the few too-small rooms, Tyler runs by and says to Christian, “Since it’s my show, I told them no smoking weed back here,” laughing hysterically. (Tyler does not use drugs or alcohol.) After showing Christian some vinyl he’d been sent as a gift, including a D12 record that he’s particularly excited by, he notices me for the first time.
“He’s here to write about you, Tyler,” Christian says. “He’s a secret agent.”
“I’m a secret agent,” I say.
“Y’all weirdos,” Tyler says, spinning back into motion.