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18 October 2010

Odd Future from Los Angeles

Above is a YouTube blip by Tyler, the Creator, the one member of LA hip-hop posse Odd Future who is most hotly tipped to go all the way. And, well, now that LA Weekly has finally gotten around to it, I should probably publish my post about them too. Here’s a boiled down version of the Weekly‘s feature (written by an acquaintance, Caroline Ryder, to whom I’ll say, nice job).:

    Their visual language reflects influences they don’t even know they have yet — Aleister Crowley, ’80s porn, Amityville, A Clockwork Orange and Dogtown. Their lyrical matter is XXX-rated, containing references a little too weird (rape? scat? Jermaine DuPri?) and a little too learned for their young-adult minds. They are tough enough to be on The Wu-Tang’s radar (GZA is a fan), and their beats, dense enough to crush bone matter, are engineered by a girl — Syd, Odd Future’s only female, who is arrestingly beautiful in a no-makeup-and-hoodie kind of way…

    In addition to Tyler, the Creator, Odd Future is: Jasper Dolphin, Domo Genesis, Matt Martians of the Super 3, Left Brain, Mike G, Hodgy Beats, Taco, Syd and Earl Sweatshirt.

    Sweatshirt’s video, called “Earl,” is how I stumbled upon Odd Future. Directed by A.G. Rojas, it features Earl sitting under a hair-salon dryer rapping about ass sex, catfish and decomposing bodies while his Odd Future posse members drink a smoothie made of cough syrup, weed, pills and powders, with gory, deeply disconcerting consequences. “Let’s all fucking kill ourselves,” someone commented on YouTube, which pretty much summed up how the video made me feel, too.

    It was amazing…

    Tyler says he really loves to masturbate, collects books and was, until very recently, studying film at a community college in West L.A. He dropped out, aware that Odd Future was turning into something that might require all of his time and attention.

They’re dark to the point of being indefensible, perhaps…

…but I’ve learned better than to even attempt to police the hazy borders that govern morality in art. Say what you will, they’re at least self-aware enough to know what they rap about has fucked-up qualities. (The top post on their website right now debuts a new track, while noting that it marks a change of direction: “Some OF You Females Might Get Annoyed By Us Raping You, So, Left Brain And Hodgy Decided To Slow It Down And Show You That…You Are Special…Not On No Soft Shit.” Ok then!)

Where to start? You can download many of their mixtapes at their blog OFWGKTA (an acronym for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) or visit some of their MySpaces. I started with Tyler the Creator‘s album Bastard which he released free online on Christmas day in 2009. Check it out (though unfortunately the full album-length download link at seems to be gone now).

Not being the hip-hop head, I’ll admit I haven’t gotten very far past that album, but I like it. Reference points via an RIYL: Wu-Tang Clan, Dr. Octagon, Gravediggaz. And RE: that last RIYL, here’s a thought to anyone that thinks Odd Future is truly new. Everything old can and will become new again! (Evidence after the jump.)
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Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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14 December 2009

You’ve got indie rock in my hip-hop: stray thoughts about a Kid Cudi video & misreadings of the Great Gatsby

(Image via University of South Carolina F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary website.)

All over the land you can hear hipsters saying, “You’ve got hip-hop in my indie rock,” and all over the hip-hop nation, they are saying in return “You’ve got indie rock in my hip-hop.” I’ve been meaning to write a bold, brilliant essayistic statement about this phenomenon. I’ve even collected a ton of articles about it to reference. But, hey, I’ve had bills to pay, checks to cash, et. cetera.

A nice summary statement of the phenomenon, though, can be extrapolated from viewing this new video by Kid Cudi, featuring the musical skills of indie rock(ish) darlings MGMT and Ratatat.

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6 December 2009

Hip-hop & male anxiety

(Image via Pigeons & Planes)

Two bits of hip-hop/r&b media have come to my attention in the last few days. First give a listen to R. Kelly’s new jam called “Pregnant” over at The Fader. (I’ve included a YouTube stream at the end of the post.) Second check out this latest Saturday Night Live digital short featuring Rhianna. Look soon as I imagine NBC will get this pulled down within 24 hours.

If I were to forecast what this particular weather pattern meant for the hip-hop community’s constant crisis of defining masculinity & femininity, my prediction at this moment would be hail stones, gall stones, buckets of responsibility with a slight chance of emasculation.
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Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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