Here’s more Odd Future, because they make spectacular, bizarre, vital music. Enjoy “epaR” by Earl Sweatshirt ft. Vince Staples.
When the dust settles on 2010, I think I’ll be left with three songs to choose from for my favorite of the year. Two of them come from the minds of Odd Future, and one of them is the above. There’s so much that I could say about this song, about how intricately it is written (notice, if you will, how Earl co-opts and twists the cop-suspect interaction from Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” seconds after killing a girl for switching out Eminem’s Relapse to play Jay’s Blueprint; or take note of how the chorus changes from begin to end, or how Earl’s first verse foreshadow’s the end of his second–and I ask you, really, what the hell is not to love here???), about how well produced and original its beat is, or how it provides a pretty solid encapsulation of OF’s sound, influences, and general aesthetic. I could write about 2000 more words, and believe me I’d love to, but I shouldn’t have to. Just listen to it.
Odd Future is making some of the most vibrant, exciting, quality music (forget Hip-Hop) around right now. It’s shocking, it’s idiosyncratic, and it’s achieving the victory of a rabid cult following through flagrant defiance and dedication to well-executed art. I don’t really know what to say about the future of the music industry, or music in general, but I know that Odd Future’s members are putting on a clinic right now about how to dedicate yourself to art and make something that means something–not because it touches the masses, but because it’s deeply personal and crafted with intense care. I’m ranting, I’m rambling, I’m feeling the after effects of a flu shot. But I am telling you, one more time: look past the shock and hear the glory of unadulterated creation.
Dead one in the front, dead cop in the back. Two live bitches screaming Odd Future is back.
Oh, and the new MellowHype (another OF sub-group) track “Right Here” is pretty ill as well. Streaming below, downloadable at OF’s site (linked above).
UPDATE: As if ordained from the rap gods above, Noz shares with the mortals an opinion that almost perfectly encapsulates my feelings about Odd Future, independent/underground Hip-Hop (which are not of course the same thing, but sure let’s make them synonymous here for a moment and deal with semantics later), and idiosyncrasies. The excerpt below comes from a piece on Minnesota rapper idea Eyedea (lack of sleep and Nyquil make you write funny things, like “idea” instead of “Eyedea,” pardonnez moi), who passed away tragically at the age of 29 yesterday.
“Sean Fennessey has an interesting piece in Pitchfork today about Odd Future and the rise of today’s new swagged out rap underground but then sort of contradicts himself on Tumblr with just one sentence: “If someone can figure out how to shave the edges off, they’ll be very famous.” To me that shatters the charm of this and any underground movement. Those edges are the very reason they’re interesting today and they’ll only be interesting tomorrow if we let the edges grow and mutate. (Incidentally I see some parallels between early Eyedea and OF and Earl in particular. Not stylistically but in the sense that the primary buzz point is usually and unfairly distilled to the question of can you believe he’s only sixteen and rapping like that!?)
Expectations naturally come with underground potential, but it’s a problem that the commercial expectations seem to outweigh critical ones as of late. If Eyedea came out today he wouldn’t have just Puff and his ilk in his ear whispering about star potential, but the entire deafening echo chamber of twitter @s and blog “tastemakers” and critical bandwagon jumpers. This pressure can stunt the creativity of any artist but seems particularly intimidating when magnified by the natural insecurities that exist in the younger ones. We, as critics, need to stop telling kids that they’re going to be famous and start telling them that they’re going to make – and are making – great music.
Speaking idealistically, I’ve always thought that the underground should serve as more than just a farm system for the mainstream. It should be an active rejection of mainstream standards, a forum for personal honesty and experimentation. The crossover should only happen in the rare cases where critical mass forces those eccentricities into the mainstream. (The Waka Model vs. The Gucci Model.) It might blow up but it won’t go pop. Fuck shaving edges.”
So let them Odd boys do what they do, enjoy the results if it’s your thing, and let them reach success on their terms. Stranger things have happened.