Odd Future’s unconventional second album keeps it controversial


Hip-hop collective Odd Future makes an impressive return with their latest release, The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2 (Photo courtesy of Victor Frankowski).

Elijah Watson

“Once upon a time, there was this group of dusty ass mothafuckas that created a little group for themselves. They called themselves Odd Future.” This is the introductory line to “Hi,” the first track off of controversial hip-hop group Odd Future’s latest release, The OF Tape Vol. 2.

It’s no fairy tale myth that Odd Future has deconstructed the genre in ways that their contemporaries have not. Fueled by teenage angst and outspoken beliefs, the collective had gay rights activists, feminists and musicians angry at their apathetic and offensive lyrical content last year. Although Odd Future is made up of many talented individuals (skateboarders, photographers and designers) it is the musicians that serve as the face of the group. The artists bring their own type of musical chaos to the Odd Future concoction, a potion that is not for the faint of heart.

It would not be an overstatement to say that Odd Future wants to be remembered; that is what the opening lines to “Hi” are for. As Odd Future member Lionel Boyce goes down the list from Tyler, the Creator, to Domo Genesis, the listener gets a sense that the group wants to be immortalized as musical game-changers.

The OF Tape Vol. 2 showcases the talents of each individual artist associated with the group, highlighting those who have been knighted with Odd Future credibility. The collective branches off into different musical territory, but finds success nonetheless. For example, Mellowhype’s explosive “50” sounds nothing like The Internet’s soulful “Ya Know;” Mike G’s weed anthem “Forest Green,” is nowhere near Frank Ocean’s transcendental “White.”

Ten minute album ender “Oldie” is the only song that features just about every artist in Odd Future. Although the group may dislike being compared to iconic hip-hop collective Wu-tang Clan, the similarities are all too apparent on this track. From the moody, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-RZA production, to almost every member getting a stab at the track (welcome back, Earl Sweatshirt), “Oldie” is a goody in the sense that it channels the aesthetic of the Staten Island ensemble, but not to the point of blatant imitation or copying. Each flow is different from the other: Mike G’s laid-back cadence contrasts against Frank Ocean’s stream-of-consciousness delivery; Sweatshirt’s witty wordplay is the antithesis to Tyler’s ferocious rhyme scheme.

Odd Future’s movement in hip-hop, and music in general, is largely due to their unconventional approach. The collective doesn’t brag about the clubs they frequent; they talk about the skate-parks they discover. They don’t boast about hanging with hip hop all-stars; they favor causing an unholy ruckus with hardcore punk band Trash Talk. Pissed-off conservatives hoped that Odd Future’s 15 minutes of fame would die out last year. Simply put, The OF Tape Vol. 2 is a big “f-you” to that.

Printed on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 as: Band's second album keeps it controversial