Odd Future is a hip-hop group centered in Los Angeles (you can find all of the members hanging around Fairfax Avenue near their newly opened Golf Wang pop-up shop). The group contains 11 members: Tyler, The Creator, Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, Domo Genesis, Jasper Dolphin, Syd tha Kid, Matt Martians, Taco Bennet, Earl Sweatshirt, Mike G, and Frank Ocean. Each member of the group has either produced their own solo work or has worked with other Odd Future members to produce work. A few groups exist within the Odd Future group itself; MellowHype is composed of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, The Internet is composed of Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians, EarlWolf is composed of Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, and the most recent group is MellowHigh which consists of Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, and Domo Genesis.
When I was introduced to Odd Future a few years ago, the first song I heard was Seven by Tyler, The Creator. Mixed with profanity, racial slurs, and a heavy beat, I assumed that all of the music released through the Odd Future label would not stray far from his style. For a while, my opinion did not change: Tyler released two albums, his latest being Goblin, that were both labeled as “horror core” for their extreme topics, excessive cursing, and disturbing imagery. MellowHype re-released their album BlackenedWhite that includes very entrancing and addicting beats, but their lyrics do not stray far from the style I first heard from Tyler. Mike G and Earl Sweatshirt also produce songs that do show different musical styles, but contain the same amount of violence and profanity as other Odd Future records. Any one who disliked the image set out by Odd Future might have lost hope in any calm, soothing music to be released from the collective; that is, until The Internet’s new album was released on December 20.
The Internet is yet another subgroup within Odd Future that includes Syd Tha Kid, OF’s resident DJ and the only female member of the group, and Matt Martians, a member previously featured within the group but not as widely known as the main members. The Internet is dubbed as hip-hop soul, a far jump from the alternative hip hop/horror core that Odd Future so frequently releases. To give the fans a taste of their album, called Purple Naked Ladies, The Internet released their first single, Love Song-1, in September.
The single was a perfect pretext for the rest of the album, which features a much more gentle sound than Odd Future fans expected. The album incorporates a mix of electric, jazz, soul, and funk, constantly switching between styles and singers while retaining its mellow and slow trance. On October 31, The Internet released their first music video for Cocaine. The psychedelic video was a further introduction to the album that The Internet released a few months laterSimilar songs on the album include Ode to a Dream and Web of Me.
Another component of the album that strays from the usual routine established by Odd Future is that PNL features only two other members from the groupMike G and Left Brain. In contrast, Tyler’s album Goblin features the vocals of six other members of Odd Future while two other members helped produce songs (remember, there are only 11 members total). PNL consists mainly of Syd on the vocals with both Matt and Syd producing all of the songs. Other artists, such as Kilo Kish, Coco O., Pyramid Vritra, and Tay Walker, offered their vocals for some of the tracks, but rarely do any other members from Odd Future make an appearance on this album.
One member within Odd Future offers a somewhat similar sound to that of The Internet. Frank Ocean released his mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra in February 2011. The mixtape includes his popular single, Novacane, but also introduces many new enchanting tracks, including American Wedding, a remake of Hotel California by The Eagles, and We All Try, a track that actually speaks out against the homophobic remarks that Odd Future is notorious for constantly spitting out. Ocean, who is a late member to Odd Future, does not tour with the group and rarely performs with the other members; rather, he performs solo, merely as Frank Ocean rather than as part of the Odd Future collective. His music is characterized as similar to old school R&B, with dramatic themes and a very tranquil sound, somewhat similar to the sound released by The Internet.
For those who dislike the intense and profane tracks that Tyler, The Creator and MellowHype offer, The Internet will bring them a completely different sound to experience. Without knowing the history of The Internet, one would not even consider linking their album to the Odd Future label. The same goes for Frank Ocean: an artist who rarely swears in his songs, has soft and melodic beats, and who is characterized as more of a charmer than a troublemaker seems completely out of place within Odd Future. Yet, can find Syd, Matt, and Frank hanging around the Odd Future store all of the time and you can always spot them at an Odd Future show. The Internet and Frank Ocean simply offer an alternative to the musical style that Odd Future first presented, and shows that even artists like Tyler, The Creator can appreciate a slow song now and then.
The one complaint I have about The Internet is that completely underplayed and severely unappreciated by the members of Odd Future and their fans. On December 22, Odd Future had their annual Christmas show at The Roxy and, out of the two hours worth of performance time that they had, Syd was only able to play one song off of PNL. The concert, which could be generalized as one uncontrollable moshpit, ended up with Tyler, The Creator being arrested for vandalizing The Roxy. The back-story is that Tyler saw two girls being severely beaten at the front row and when he tried to yell into the microphone for the fans to calm down, he realized his mic was shut off. In order to get the attention of the crowd and release his anger, he smashed the equipment and broke a window. In hindsight, this situation could have easily been avoided if the group had decided to play more mellow music, like that produced by The Internet and Frank Ocean; there’s a reason why no one was beaten up or arrested after Frank Ocean’s November concert in LA.