Review Summary: The future's ODD.
I saw a Jay-Z interview on a chat show here in the UK, and the interviewer made the point that Jay isn't as young as hip hop stars generally are. He responded that hip hop can't be a "young man's game", and instead needs to be a "genre of music" - queue applause from the clueless audience. If his recent album is the blueprint for "mature" hip hop, I'd rather it stays a "young man's game" - and Odd Future are a group making this stance all the more appealing. Coming in with a blatant disregard for "40 year old rappers rapping about Gucci", Tyler The Creator's lyrics embody the youthful exuberance and attitude that define his Odd Future crew. Coming with the aura of a west-coast, skateboarding obsessed Wu-Tang, Odd Future are at once totally self aware (see the well stylised- and awesome - music videos) and totally insular to the blogosphere in which they - for the moment - tempestuously exist. Influenced by the harsh synths and hard hitting beats of perennial internet pariahs such as Wacka Flocka and Gucci, as well as the psychopathic flows of Slim Shady (younger brother Earl Sweatshirt referring to himself as the "reincarnation of '98 Eminem" on the brilliant back-and-forth "AssMilk"), the group are at once both potential underground darlings and its reluctant heroes.
One can see the likes of "French" dividing opinion pretty harshly- the grinding synths and Tyler's deep voice spewing lines about butt-rape won't be to everyone's tastes, but those looking for a little more brashness in their music collection should be interested. In terms of pure skills, the more minimal beat of "Blow" exhibits the quality of Tyler's flow, his lyrics flitting from teenage lust to teenage rape seamlessly. Other highlights include the blissed out "VCR" portion of track 10, the therapy session confessional of the piano-only title track and the disorientatingly dragging style of both the vocals and beat on "Parade".
This album won't be for everyone, and it is probably slightly too long, but these are minor gripes. An album that is varied in sound if not lyrical content, the character and attitude that Tyler (and his Odd Future friends) bring to the table is the real draw here, and make future releases by these guys very exciting indeed.