Tyler, The Creator. photo credit: Flickr user Po’Jay
If you haven’t heard of Odd Future, chances are you may have been living under a rock since 2007. The California hip hop collective includes figure head rapper Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Mike G, and since 2007 the group has put out an incredible amount of material. Tyler released “Wolf,” the 3rd part in his 3-album concept arc this year, and last year the group put out 3 albums, most notably Frank Ocean’s ChannelORANGE, which was nominated for six Grammy awards in 2012.
The group has achieved mainstream success due to disturbing visual and lyrical content (Tyler’s lines have been compared to “Slim Shady“-era Eminem) and, most importantly, overall talent as musicians, lyricists, producers, and artists.
However, after the success of the collective, what are the impacts of this success? For one, a rapper can no longer be just a rapper. Tyler’s beats are produced within the collective, either by him, Left Brain, or Syd Tha Kid, and all of the group’s album art is done by friends or members (exception: Tyler’s latest album had a piece by Mark Ryden as one of the cover art options).
The next aspect of the industry that OF excels in is the diversification of the group. The collective is full of individual musicians who collaborate together on multiple records. Syd, normally a producer, teams up with Matt Martians to form The Internet, a more ambient jazz-fusion electronica project, and rapper Hodgy Beats teams up with producer Left Brain to form Mellowhype. Musically, the group is diversified, but not everyone involved produces music: photographer Sagan Lockhart posts his work on Fersher, a blog that recently started publishing magazines, and has done work for skate magazines. All of the projects are instantly recognizable and distinguished from one another, and each project presents new and fresh ideas.
The group has their hands in everything, from a TV show that airs on adultswim (produced by Dickhouse Productions, who created Jackass) to a “pop-up shop” boutique in Los Angeles that sells merchandise designed by various group members.
The work ethic of the collective is bringing them success: in addition to Frank Ocean’s Grammy nominations, Tyler’s latest album debuted at No. 3 on Billboard. Odd Future is changing the face of hip hop for the foreseeable future; whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.