Outside of…let’s say Kanye, the ragtag California collective Odd Future was hands down the most talked about group in Austin. Why? It’s been a minute that we’ve seen such raw and unedited hip-hop. It seems that on the mainstream level, the genre is all about bottle service and working with David Guetta, while the underground is stuck in head-nodding 1995.
The thing about Odd Future is that their musical output is worthy of the hype. Their albums–from Tyler, The Creator’s Bastard to The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s Journey To The 5th Echelon are hands down some of the best releases that hip-hop has seen in the past 3 years. And the fact that they’re all under the age of 22 means that they have years ahead of them. And a fractured music industry is trying to cash in.
However, their live show can be improved. This may be a personal bias of mine. I always fret the “posse” hip-hop show, when there are several members screaming into the mic (a soundman’s worse nightmare), even when Wu-Tang was involved. And it’s obvious after several back to back shows that these kids are still trying to find their footing. . It’s one thing to jump around onstage to a small devoted fanbase, yet another to try to take your music to the next level.
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To the casual observer, it would seem that an Odd Future show is just a bunch of misfit kids who might beat you up if they saw you on the subway and put it on WorldStar hip-hop. Yet, seeing them off-stage one notices that they are serious about their craft and honestly, a little shy. Between shows, they’re studying the game, and figuring out ways on how to punk the system. Tyler, The Creator is hands down the most charismatic Black man I’ve seen in the past 5 years. His “I Don’t Give A F*ck” attitude and antithesis to the media (he’s kicked a few photographers last week in Austin and the crew gave no interviews) is almost akin to a Negro Johnny Rotten.
But what does the future hold for Odd Future? The media hype machine is a vicious bitch. They’ll love you one minute and destroy you the next. How will these youngsters cope with the pressure? Will they sell out or cash in? Will their anti-social behavior seem like a joke now that the collective are working with Beyonce and Justin Beiber?
If you were thinking that those questions would be answered at South By Southwest, you were wrong. The next few months will be crucial for the group, as they establish their indentity and hopefully cash more checks. Just like my position at their shows, I’ll be waiting on the sidelines watching the musical mosh pit from afar. Swag.