Odd Future’s Odd Fan Base

So what if Odd Future's music makes critics feel "weird and awful"? The rap group is a success -- especially among white music writers.

Courtesy of LA Weekly
Courtesy of LA Weekly

I was introduced to the Los Angeles-based hip-hop group Odd Future (full name: Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) over craft beers at a friend’s house several months ago. This friend, a white guy in his late 20s, was in the midst of writing a feature about them for a major music magazine — one of the first features to be written about the band, in fact.

For his research, he’d collected literally every song Odd Future had recorded — the group gives away all of its music for free on its multiple websites — and he played them for me one after the other, prefacing each with, “This one is greaaaaaaat.”

After listening to what must have been three whole albums of music, my friend turned to me, his head nodding, and asked, “So what do you think?”

“I like it a lot,” I said, my head nodding in unison. “But do they always rap this much about rape?”

Turns out that they do. If you’ve read anything about Odd Future recently, or listened to just a few of their songs, you know that the group, led by a charismatic teenager who calls himself Tyler the Creator, specializes in gross-out rhymes. To be sure, many of their raps have nothing to do with rape, murder, torture or general mayhem — but many others do.

On the song “Splatter,” Tyler raps, “F— Tyler, I’mma change my name to Uncle Phil, ’cause every girl I … f—, it’s always against her Will.” He then says he’s going to go into a retirement home and have sex with an old woman. On another song, “Seven,” Tyler says he and Odd Future “go skate, rape sluts and eat donuts from Randy’s.”

The darkness neither begins nor ends with Tyler. On Odd Future team member Earl Sweatshirt’s eponymous solo track, “Earl,” Tyler’s right-hand man boasts, “Earl puts the ass in assassin, puts the pieces of decomposing bodies in plastic.” And on “Couch,” Earl fantasizes about feeding a woman acid, binding her in duct tape and putting her in the trunk of his car. “Now you ain’t laughing, huh?” he asks his victim at the end of the gruesome verse.

It’s a White Thing

The thing is, a lot of people are laughing — laughing and fawning. One thing that jumps out at you when you look at much of the criticism of Odd Future is that hardly any of it is very critical. Indeed, most of America’s revered music-news outlets — and many of the British outlets — love Odd Future. Another thing that jumps out at you is that most of these critics are white.