And so the year ends as it must, with the arrest of Odd Future's Tyler the Creator in Los Angeles early this morning. (Video here, of him going to town on the venue's sound guy, if you care.) Unrelatedly, no doubt, they have a new album out. Well. That's 2011 for ya, come to bite us all on the behind. (Photo byMike Rosenstein.)
This is the time of every year that “This is Just a Modern Rock Song” becomes my favorite Belle and Sebastian song. (Taking over from “Lazy Line Painter Jane” or “The Boy With the Arab Strap,” which rule at other times.) Because now that summer is all-but-technically kaput, and we can finally put the Great Shorts Debate behind us, at least for another seven or eight months, I most often find myself pulling on a pair of corduroy pants in the morning
"Is OFWGKTA offensive? Yes, but they're also undeniably funny, sad, and, somehow, devoid of moral gravity in a way that's both silly and nearly surreal. One friend of mine has referred to OFWGKTA's lyrics as coming from an unformed "girls are gross" perspective, and certainly, in the YouTube videos where 16-year-old Earl Sweatshirt isn't rapping about cannibalism and screwing corpses, he comports himself like a shy, polite kid just out to goof off with his friends. At the same time, OFWGKTA makes such doggedly creative and self-aware music that it sometimes feels as if they've chosen depravity not because they want to, but because they can. If there's such a [...]
In one part of rap right now, lots of rappers are publicly expressing their disappointment about MTV's recently issued top ten "Hottest MCs" list, which is specifically designed, each and every year, to make rappers publicly express their disappointment. So, in the manufactured-content and conversation-fodder department, job well done, I guess. In a different part of rap, one that has more to do with things that I think should matter to people, Odd Future's prodigal son Earl Sweatshirt continues to make the argument that he is about as skillful a lyricist as exists in the world right now. With an elevated visual sense, too. That shot [...]
I didn't even know that Thebe Kgositsile, a.k.a. Earl Sweatshirt, went to my elementary school before I started leafing through old copies of "The Poet Tree," the poetry collection from our alma mater, Community Magnet School in Los Angeles.
His poem "Mummies" (my favorite of the two here) needs no explanation, except to note that it's incredible to see a five- or six-year-old with the swagger of Biggie or the like. This bigger-than-the-world-and-all-the-scary-things-in-it mentality is something that many rappers front, but what makes Earl Sweatshirt so amazing is that he's genuinely had it since he was a tot (just compare his poem to the one below his to see the [...]
Now, I'm sure many of us have found ourselves engaging in illicit behavior under regrettable circumstances. Public bathrooms are far from the most hygienic places, yet a public bathroom is sometimes the only available place to take drugs. Still, you have to think these ladies could have found a more suitable surface from which to snort cocaine than a piece of wood just outside a cage which apparently houses an animal at a state fair. I mean, Jesus, it could have been a llama!
Late on Friday night, I joined a lot of other white people at the Highline Ballroom to see Odd Future. At the door, a girl in a Juicy sweatshirt handed out paper masks of Tyler, The Creator’s face. The image was borrowed from his self-designed Goblin album cover. There were eyeholes punched out, so that you couldn’t see the milky black irises he’d Photoshopped onto his own face, and so that every person there could resemble Tyler while they chanted “swag,” “goblin,” and “Free Earl," who needs no freeing, at the 20-year-old with a microphone and a record deal who claims not to care for his own music.
Proclamations that a certain era is "good" or "bad" for music are always specious. There's both good and bad music being made all the time, of course, in all different genres, and that's been true even during eras accepted as either "golden" or "dead" for whatever style you might be talking about. What's easier to talk about, what I think people are actually assessing when they talk in this way, is what's popular at a certain time in history—stylistic characteristics of the music that happens to be selling the most, or being played on popular radio stations. Of course, people often disagree about stylistic characteristics, too, whether they make [...]
I wish there was more close-up footage of a frog's eye blinking in Earl Sweatshirt's new video. But there is some of that and it is very good! I think I would like to watch a full 3:10-long video of a frog's eye blinking to a soundtrack of Earl reciting his intricate tongue-twister rhymes about his life. As emotionally moving and in-depth as they are astounding from a technical perspective. "Mama often was offering peace offerings…" he says, and your jaw drops at how the simple transposition of those two words, "often" and "was," can open the door for a line so beautiful.
Watching Hodgy Beats ride through the suburbs, shooting lasers from the crotch of his Starship Troopers spacesuit, hitting patty-cake-playing white girls and turning them into cats, makes it very, very difficult to believe that the Odd Future crew is not thinking beyond whatever controversy and "troll-gaze" labels people put on them. I think they're having fun; largely innocent fun. And making good art ("violator art," maybe, though my head starts to swim with the word salad of critical terminology.) But I do think it's art that says, or is at least trying to say something about the world we're living in. And even if that [...]
I don't know that I have ever seen a video that has less to do with the song it accompanies than this new one from Frank Ocean. Apparently, I mean. You never know the inner workings of an artist's mind. But judging from this, it seems that the title of the song might have been shortened from "Thinking About You and Cowboys-and-Indians Revenge Fantasies and Meteors and Witch Doctors and Magical Gemstones and Also Maybe Time Travel."
"Odd Future is filled with tons of controversy and they're going to have a lot trouble moving forward, becoming 'mainstream.' But Tyler the Creator is going to work hard at that. And so far he has a ton of Notre Dame fans. But even haters." —Some students at the tony Los Angeles Catholic school Academy of Notre Dame de Namur love the rap group Odd Future. Others do not. Student documentarian Arman Mahramzade examines the phenomenon.
When I was fifteen, I prank-called a rape hotline. I called and asked if it was true that women who get raped are asking for it. This is maybe the worst thing I have ever done! But let me explain. While I was certainly the possessor of all sorts of sexist attitudes at the time (I was a 15-year-old boy, after all), I don’t think I actually believed that women who were raped were asking for it. The reason I even knew about rape hotlines in the first place was because I’d seen a number for one on a Tori Amos tape I listened to incessantly. I was a huge [...]
Two members of the Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future appeared with The Roots on the Jimmy Fallon show last night. Odd Future are also known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, and sometimes they switch the W" from "wolf" with the "G" from "golf" so that it's "Golf Wang." This clip of their performance lets you know why so many people are so excited about them. They're maybe about as punk rock as rap has ever got. And, among other things, they're really good.