Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) is a hip hop collective hailing from Los Angeles, California. Its members include rappers, Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and Mike G, as well as producers Left Brain, Syd Tha Kid, Matt Martians, and Hal Williams. Additional members include Frank Ocean, Taco Bennet, and Jasper Dolphin. Currently, all of the members are between the ages of 17 and 23; awe-inspiring, considering the group has already released four mixtapes and eight solo albums. The group built a cult following by using their website to offer up all of their material for free, as well as utilizing social media and viral videos to spark interest. The band truly epitomizes the do-it-yourself attitude, as they have become a self-contained movement in the music industry.
While OFWGKTA developed a cult-like following, the true buzz began after Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats performed “Sandwitches” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The band impressed further one month later, at the MTVU Woodie Awards, where they closed out the show. Watching these two perform was refreshing, as they both displayed something lacking in hip hop: energy and stage presence. In fact, what I think is so magnetic about this group is their punk attitude. Seeing live videos of their recent SXSW performances showed a group that got lost in their own performances. Jumping off of speakers and roofs, throwing water bottles, and crowd surfing was the norm at these shows. Even more unique was the crowd reaction as people began moshing during a hip hop act. It is clear that Odd Future is having fun with what they are creating and will not let others alter their style.
In regards to the style, there have been several comparisons to Wu-Tang and Gravediggaz. While there are similarities, I think Odd Future is unique. The production is a mash of lo-fi beats with depth and texture, which give off an almost eerie aggression. Furthermore, each of the members has truly unique delivery and flow. All of this allows the band to focus on delivering their lyrical content. Most critics note the overly violent and sexual lyrics, akin of early Eminem. While these topics are present, there are a greater variety of topics such as a fatherless childhood and comic mischief. It is this dichotomy between the mature and violent lyrics and the admitted immaturity of the members that makes the music work. It isn’t a matter of believing the story lines, but rather a realization of the light-hearted view of such serious subject matter.
As with any buzz band, there is always the matter of longevity. Already, the band has a vast array of solid material and with Tyler’s Goblin scheduled for a May 10th release, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of slowing down. In addition, the band has already received support from heavy hitters such as Kanye West and P.Diddy. With the members keeping the fire burning via social media and their antics it seems that the buzz can be sustained. Perhaps most importantly, the band is remaining self-contained, primarily releasing albums with one-off deals in order to maintain creative control. The true test will be the reception of Goblin and trying to garner fans outside of major target areas. All of the necessary tools remain present, so it is a question of whether the consumer is just excited for change or truly ready to embrace it. I for one think Odd Future is legitimate. While I don’t think they will singlehandedly change the industry, they are a much needed breath of fresh air.