With the announcement From Tyler, The Creator that Odd Future would be no more, we took a look back over their time together and compiled 5 ways in which they've changed the hip hop industry.
Odd Future, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All Don't Give a Fuck Litter Life Bacon Boys Loiter Squad Butt Fuck Bitch Niggas, or simply OFWGKTA for short – whatever you want to call them, it appears their days are over. Whether you were a fan of the motley crew or found them to be little more than a scrappy nuisance, one thing's for sure: they've made a long-lasting impact on the hip-hop scene as we know it. We took the opportunity to look back over their legacy, gathering five ways in which they changed the game.
Change Of Scene
Odd Future crashed into the scene at a time when it was starting to become a little tiresome. Sure, we all love a good dose of "pussy, money and weed" now and then, but if that's all that's on offer, it won't be long before people need a little break. Music videos began to feel more like a marketing tool than a mode of artistic expression, as (yawn) the same old rappers worked with the same producers on the same party tracks and the same directors shot the same videos. Just as rap aficionados became weary of record executive's go-to tropes, OFWGKTA arrived with an (almost), entirely new oeuvre. There seemed to be a genuine sincerity in their approach to music, and one which would not be curtailed by any suit.
DIY Punk Aesthetic
While, in their later years at least, business flocked behind them and the press buzzed the word of Wolf Gang, their growing fanbase and music distribution remained largely DIY, working via word-of-mouth rather than tastemaker approval. You could argue that Odd Future did to the polished hip-hop of Drake and B.o.B what Nirvana did to heavy metal. The charisma, intelligence and sheer destructive impulse are definitely similar, all spearheaded by a group of hyper-creative music nerds who play the rebel role artfully.
While Odd Future never managed a clear "Smells Like Teen Spirit" moment, the punk aesthetic was evident. There was a rawkus energy on both ends of their live shows, complete with stage dives and die-hard fans screaming their lyrics. The lines "Fuck the fame and all the hype, G./I just want to know if my father would ever like me" and "Kill people. Burn shit. Fuck school" embody everything they were about.
Odd Future presented an outlet for empty frustration, one that even "culture-less" teenagers in the middle of nowhere could tap into. They were a walking paradox that embodied the intense emotional turbulence felt by young people the world over. At times they’d appear as bolshy swaggering dickheads, leaving no-one safe from their antagonistic trolling. Other moments would see them showcase an enchanting vulnerability, spitting rhymes about absent parents and unrequited loves.
They Don't Give a Fuck
They’ve made a career out of purporting "not to give a fuck" and there's a certain energy about that - something that hasn't been genuinely felt in the industry in a while. The ‘not giving a fuck’ element was very attractive for their fans, not in a negative sense, but in a self fulfilling way. To be free from what people think and not worrying about all of the metrics of success was an incredible place to create from. In the age-old cliché, they stayed true to themselves. There was no fear of failure because the failures wound up being catalysts for success elsewhere. Which leads on to our next point...
Music Was Always Just the Beginning
Being more a franchise than a hip-hop collective, OFWGKTA extended their empire past its musical boundaries to include a sketch comedy show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (Loiter Squad), a commercial-free online radio station, the Golf Wang streetwear label, a boutique on Fairfax and a Carnival. Through their various creative outlets, Odd Future were able to saturate the current hip-hop market with their oddball mentality, and like a punch in the face it was hard to avoid feeling stunned.
They attracted a network of die-hard fans - fans who could imagine themselves as part of Odd Future. Very quickly, our youth generation became awash with Supreme, OBEY and – of course – Golf Wang. Symbols of subversion and skate culture were universally adopted. The individualism of Odd Future had spawned a generation of strikingly dressed clones who adopted a similar "no-fucks-given" attitude.
Working With, Not For, Record Labels
The troupe's relationship with managers Christian and Kelly Clancy was one of mutual understanding and a defining necessity to be themselves. Sales seemed beside the point. Oddfuture.com offered numerous full-length releases for free download – all self-produced. Granted, this model isn't uncommon, especially in hip-hop – where semi-official mixtapes have been around since the genre's inception. However, Odd Future's eye for detail rivalled that of any major-label release.
Despite hip-hop's rich, independent legacy, rap crews of autonomous esteem – Gucci Mane's Brick Squad, for instance – made beelines for major deals. Even the most iconic youth-music movements of past generations were guided by an older industry veteran in their early stages. N.W.A had Jerry Heller. The Sex Pistols had Malcolm McLaren. Odd Future, on the other hand, was a fully-formed and self-sustained entity before anyone in the music industry, including Clancy, had even heard of them. This large-scale collective autonomy is what sets them apart from other hip-hop collectives. Odd Future Records did eventually work with Sony to distribute various items. However, the group operated more like a Silicon Valley startup: lean, agile, and responsive. It was hip-hop powered by a punk ethos that was tailor-made for the Internet age.
Where do Odd Future go from here? Their story isn’t a tale of one-hit wonders and sad decline, but one of evolution. Frank’s become a worldwide star. The Internet are cult darlings. Earl’s got the critics in the palm of his hand, while Tyler has an array of projects on the go at the moment. We've witnessed them pave their own way in hip-hop as a bunch of hyperactive teenagers – who knows what they can achieve as they venture into adulthood.