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 Wallace Wylie

Odd Future and sexism etc

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by Wallace Wylie

Odd Future are the latest act to set the hype-machine into overdrive. Pitchfork loves them, Jimmy Fallon had some members of the group perform live on his show, and every other indie blog in North America is raving about them. One of the first things you’ll probably read about hip-hop collective Odd Future is that they rap about rape. We’re not just talking about the occasional rape reference to induce a sharp intake of breath; we’re talking continuous rape fantasies and graphic descriptions of sexual assault. Then there’s the homophobia. The word “faggot” is dropped continuously, relentlessly. The next thing you’ll probably notice is that these facts are mentioned more in passing, to clear the air before praise is heaped on the group. An LA Weekly article listed rape as one of the “weird” things they rap about. Weird? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard someone say, “This really weird thing happened to me on the way home last night. I got raped”. That’s probably because rape is a hateful, stomach-churning, violent crime that destroys lives and can lead to lifelong depression and suicide. Rape statistics in America indicate that 15%-20% of all females have been the victim of it.

Odd Future themselves appear not care about any of these things, indeed their defenders claim that the fact that they “don’t give a fuck” is what makes their whole output so exhilarating. Nobody seems to be asking the group to condemn misogyny or homophobia; nobody is questioning their gleeful recounting of female debasement and humiliation. Some of their biggest admirers, including the writer of the above-mentioned LA Weekly piece, are even female. What the hell is going on here?

It goes without saying that one cannot condemn hip-hop’s misogyny and violence without people invoking artists like Nick Cave or Johnny Cash in an attempt to show hypocrisy and racial bias in the writer’s viewpoint. This, however, is not a blanket condemnation of hip-hop. (Compared to Odd Future’s violent rape-porn fantasies Snoop Dogg sounds positively old-fashioned. At least it all sounded consensual!)  This is a blanket condemnation of the spineless, pseudo-intellectual garbage that has followed in the wake of Odd Future’s rise to fame. The misogyny and homophobia on display in Odd Future’s output is sickening. I’m not sure how anyone could even think of playing it to a gay friend. Are they supposed to be open-minded and have a sense of humour about it?

As I’ve mentioned, though, the problem is not really Odd Future, it is the reaction of music writers. Be prepared to be amazed as you read article after article about the shocking nature of Odd Future’s lyrics, only to have the writer excuse them in some way, either by downplaying their hateful nature or by spinning some tortuous double-think about how Odd Future are exposing us to the very things we fear, about how their ability to shock provides some kind of sick but intoxicating adrenaline rush. Someone should introduce these people to the music of Skrewdriver. For those not in the know, Skrewdriver were a vile white-supremacist punk band. One wonders whether Pitchfork would find their shocking racism exhilarating. Do Skrewdriver have any people of colour defending them?

(continues overleaf)

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83 Responses to Odd Future and sexism etc

  1. luce April 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    If only they used their musical talent for good instead of evil… If only they had the sensibility and intelligence of someone like, say, Saul Williams… I wonder if people would even like them if their lyrics WEREN’T all about rape, homophobia, violence and misogyny. It strikes me that it would be difficult for a feminist, gay rapper to rise among the ranks. Not “real” enough I guess…

  2. Ian Rogers April 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    “I ask myself why a female would write such things and the answer can only be that the patriarchal nature of society is so strong and overwhelming that many females have never acquired the necessary self-respect to reject this kind of vile and hateful misogyny.”

    Wow. I cut and pasted this sentence with a view to pointing out how fucking ridiculous it is but…just seeing it on it’s own, unadorned, out in the open, I realise I’d just be kicking you while you’re down.

    Get up.

  3. Shem April 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    mr. Rogers : I think you are missing that 1 out of 9 women in europe has been raped. It’s safe to say nearly every woman has at some point been groped,flashed or touched in inappropriate ways. Rape and misogyny are and always have been rife. Many women have always suffered this abuse silently. And it’s only slowly that women are less accepting of this. So taking a slightly extreme standpoint in the fact that any well-thinking woman (or gay man) would put up with this “bravado” seems to me more fair and intelligent than turning a blind eye to the message of violence that you provoke on top.
    Yes you did just say that this person , making a fair assumption deserves to be kicked by you. as much a figure of speech as it is, the amount of out of place machismo you express here is exactly the problem. We should by now be tackling this issue of rape and cultural hate against women, seeing as we call ourselves civilized. The problem isnt just people who think its cool to not give a f_ck, its not the people that think its okay to rape. It’s the silent condoning like you are doing that give these people these the trust to commit these atrocities. “it’s not so bad..”
    It’s not ? then why the hell are women worldwide still getting forced into sex by people they know or dont know?

  4. Princess Stomper April 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Maybe it’s because you’re a feminist, Wallace. Maybe the other people who don’t have those sensibilities aren’t so horrified by those lyrics, and that’s why they’re still asleep.

    Point is, a lot of rap is just vicious, hateful bile. Let’s call it a specific type of rap – gangster rap? – a certain mentality of rap. It’s every bit as toxic as Skrewdriver, and while you’re absolutely right that this particular group should be pulled up for these particular lyrics, there’s an institutional corruption throughout the entire scene that needs to be addressed and not by white middle-class suburban critics.

    I recently re-watched Louis Theroux’s excellent documentary about the rap scene, and it showed the difference between the people in rap who aspire to escape poverty and crime and set themselves up as “respectable law-abiding citizens” after some measure of success, and those who want to keep wallowing in the gutter, indulging in violent crime and drugs and – yes – the debasement of women.

    It weren’t like that in our day *creak* – I mean, remember Public Enemy? Sure, they rapped about violence and crime but they weren’t wallowing in it and glamourising it. It was “gee, isn’t this terrible”, not “you’ll only be respected if you’re in jail”.

    There were other types of rap, too – Samoan crew Boo-Yaa TRIBE, those harmless goofs the Beastie Boys, acts like Dream Warriors who were praised for their deft intelligence, or hippyish “daisy rap” act PM Dawn. I’m sure there’s plenty of diversity still around, but there’s a definite preference commercially for a type of rap in which many of its stars have spent time in jail for violent crimes and whose lyrics centre around guns, drugs, homophobia and misogyny.

    Janelle Monae did at least tackle that anti-aspirational culture in her song ‘Sincerely, Jane’ with the lines “Teacher, teacher please reach those girls in them videos / The little girls just broken Queen, confusing bling for soul / Danger, there’s danger when you take off your clothes / all your dreams go down the drain girl”.

    I find those videos unwatchable, and those songs unlistenable. The minute anyone starts referring to women as “hoes” I wonder something vague about garden tools and switch it off.

    So yes, Wallace, I’m agreeing with every word – but still wondering why anything at all gets a free pass. Why isn’t EVERYONE offended by the violence or the homophobia or the more casual misogyny in the rest of gangster rap? To forgive it because of an association with “black culture” is a huge insult in my mind to people of colour.

    I’m sure the fashion will eventually change and hip-hop artists will rap about something else, and that’s not a change that can be imposed, but if people stop buying so many songs about taking crack and shooting prostitutes, it might bring to the fore more diverse rap acts with something better to sing about.

  5. Princess Stomper April 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    PS – I don’t personally identify as feminist, but I do have a strong hatred of bigotry in all its forms.

  6. Dave April 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    You failed to mention that Syd, the groups engineer and DJ is a lesbian. Look at her Tumblr for her responses to the group homophobia.

    How much of the groups work have you listened to? There are entire albums where rape isn’t mentioned. You, like all the journalists you point Tobin this article seem to just focus on the “shocking” aspect of the groups wide range of subject matter and creativity.

  7. Luce April 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Not good.
    But then neither are Nick Cave’s women murder fantasies or the Ramones sick songs about mental illness and Republican sympathies etc. How come you don’t mention them? are they white and approved by the Guardanistas?

  8. Jed April 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Who gives a shit if she’s a lesbian? Does Obama stand up for the Nation Of Islam? Was Liberace a conservative? (yes).

  9. polarbearisdying April 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “Refusing to listen to Odd Future because they rap so relentlessly about rape and homophobia is seen as a worse crime than reveling in rape fantasies”

    huh?

  10. Hannah Golightly April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I am with Wallace one hundred percent. The trouble with Odd Future is that they sound amazing, if you tune out of the lyrics, the production style is fresh and the beat is sexy, Tyler’s voice is sexy and cool and worthy of respect- until you tune back in and actually LISTEN TO THE FUCKING EVIL HE IS INCITING. Yeah. Inciting. Trouble is, whether he means it or not (my opinion is that he does on some level) it is the sort of lyrical content that is capable of infecting young impressionable minds and fuelling hateful opinions about women in it’s listeners, whether that is just by way of desensitizing the listener to the severity of the crime mentioned by an onslaught of repetition of the theme of rape. As Wallace rightfully noted, rape ruins lives and in some cases brings about death via suicide.

    If rape is to be mentioned in a song, let it be done by someone who HAS been raped. Just like the only people with any real right to use the word nigga are the ones who own the experience and are therefore within their rights to talk about it in whatever way suits them. Let’s also discuss the word Bitch- personally I HATE IT. I hate it when people call me a ‘sexy bitch’ as a compliment. I hate it when I am jokingly called a bitch by a friend in a touché type situation. And I hate it when anyone says the word in front of me for any reason, particularly, but not by much margin of difference, when it comes out of the mouth of a man. I find it degrading.

    John Lennon shocked the hell out of me with his (in my opinion tasteless lyric-ed) song called Women Are The Niggers Of The World. But the guy was ahead of his time and was spot on. Culturally we have a long way to go in catching up with him. How sad is THAT??

    If Odd Future were singing about a rape fantasy as a way to discuss it and talk about the taboo subject and provoke discussion, then regardless of how the songs sound, they would be doing us all a favour… unfortunately, they do not back up their lyrics by entering into womens issues and standing up against the rapists of the world. Therefore, it fucking stinks.

    We all have a responsibility to contribute to co-creating ‘reality’- what is ‘real’ is what is part of our daily lives.

    I have always said that the most effective feminists are men. In a patriarchal society, dominated by a structure and set of values that is designed to serve men first and women second, I am glad to share the world with people like Wallace and those who are male (in power) and who value women. Feminism is a word to describe anyone who thinks men and women are equals or should be treated as equals. Any woman who doesn’t count herself as feminist is pitiful indeed. Perhaps it’s just that they don’t wanna be associated with a word that is synonymous with women that men find unattractive, but wake up, that’s not how post-modern feminists are. Some of them are men, some of them are total knock-out beauty queens… all of them have their heads screwed on.

  11. Anonymous Douche April 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OoZNENl0Cg&feature=player_embedded

    Think that might answer some questions…

  12. Princess Stomper April 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    @ Hannah, I was with you up to this point:

    “Any woman who doesn’t count herself as feminist is pitiful indeed. Perhaps it’s just that they don’t wanna be associated with a word that is synonymous with women that men find unattractive.”

    I don’t define myself what men think of me because I never view anyone else’s opinion as being more important than my own. Neither do I label myself or take ownership of other people’s dickery. I don’t have to “believe” that women and men should be treated as equals – it’s a default position, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948. If anyone wants to ignore the most basic principles of human dignity, then they’re the one who gets to wear the label (i.e. “jerk” or something stronger).

  13. Alvin Stardust April 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Chuck D wasn’t exactly a supporter of women’s rights. Has anyone heard Sophisticated Bitch off the first public enemy album????

  14. Niall April 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Very interesting article, makes me think of a few things, none of which are in anyway excusing sexism or homophobia.

    I think Odd Future provoke excitement because of their fresh approach to the music biz in general (giving away their music, not following perceived “career” paths, using design aesthetics of the under 30s). While I think their music is good (not amazing, but not bad either) I think people are willing to overlook their questionable lyrics to focus on their positive aspects of what they are doing.

    It also helps that, while they may deny it themselves, OFWGKTA are firmly in the horrorcore tradition – the “good” stuff though like Gravediggaz, Geto Boys, Brother Lynch Hung and X-Raided. These acts traditionally take already horrific situations and make them even more OTT and disturbing. There’s an excellent MC called Sicx who has rapped about molesting children, and now is in jail for doing just that. OFWGKTA are mild in comparison!

    Then there is the question of identity and minority politics in the States, where black people, historically the most oppressed people there, are generally allowed to express themselves however they want as questioning their self-expression tends to be seen as racist. Of course, I am not a black person so this issue is more complex in ways I can’t pretend to know about as I haven’t lived them. BUT as a gay man I have gotten into arguments with black homophobes on the net whose excuse for talking uninformed hateful shite is “I’m just telling it like it is”.

    DM recently put up a video by a female rapper Lady called “Yankin’”, which is about the strength of the muscles in her vagina, put forward in much less delicate terms. This provoked some interesting comments, many of them from men telling us how this was not sexist, and even some from women agreeing with them. I have posted about Odd Future and Tyler on DM before too, but I like to balance stuff out there with posts on queer rappers like Yo Majesty and Christeene (search “Bustin’ Brown” if you wanna see a rap video that’s truly unorthodox).

  15. Lucy Cage April 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Re “feminist” as a label: it’s one that I am not just happy to wear but wear fiercely and with pride. Yes, equality SHOULD be the default position, but it isn’t. Until the majority of people the globe over do not “ignore the most basic principles of human dignity” then it seems to me to be an absolute necessity to stand up, shouting if necessary, and declare oneself to be FOR equality and FOR women. That to me, is what it is to be called a feminist, and even if it comes with baggage and even if it means defining myself with other people’s labels, those things are of lesser importance than the fact that I am standing with other feminists against oppression.

    “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.”

  16. Niall April 15, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Also, the question of gay people listening to or endorsing homophobic music is not as black and white as this article might suggest. Here’s a link to an article in the Grauniad about a gay ragga club in Vauxhall where one of the big anthems was Boom Batty Bye Bye – these people aren’t self-haters, it’s that their relationship to the music is more complex than just love or hate.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/nov/12/urban1

    Personally I’d LOVE to go to this club!

  17. Lucy Cage April 15, 2011 at 12:08 am

    “If rape is to be mentioned in a song, let it be done by someone who HAS been raped. Just like the only people with any real right to use the word nigga are the ones who own the experience and are therefore within their rights to talk about it in whatever way suits them.”

    Really? I’m a woman: can I only mention rape in a song/artwork/novel if I have been raped myself? I can’t go along with this. Art is art. It’s imagination. It’s made-up. There are no rights to words or the way they are used. None. If someone writes about rape (or any other experience) in a way in which you think is insensitive or ignorant or sexist or totally intellectual rather than emotional (or vice versa), then you can criticise it. Write it down. Demolish it. Argue its arse off. I might be getting all po-mo on you here, but it’s such dodgy territory judging who is allowed to write what when all writing is textual play to some extent or other.

  18. Lucy Cage April 15, 2011 at 1:31 am

    @Wallace: I applaud you for asking these questions. This is a debate worth having, even if I might not agree with some of your conclusions.

    I hope you don’t take this as personal criticism, but even the language you have used in the piece is rooted on the patriarchy you’re critiquing, and occasionally reflects the privileges and assumptions of the same dominant cultural class you’re talking about.
    This, for example: “I’m not sure how anyone could even think of playing it to a gay friend. Are they supposed to be open-minded and have a sense of humour about it?” assumes the reader is straight.
    This: “America is full of teenagers with nasty, vengeful thoughts in regards to the female populace” assumes that the teens suburban America is full of are male – but of course there are millions of teenagers with no nasty vengeful thoughts towards women because they themselves are women. Women are marked out as different. The default is always male.

    So your default audience is straight, male, white, which might well be largely the truth of the matter, but it’s worth pointing out that anyone who doesn’t fit that description is going to have their secondary place in the culture confirmed by the language that’s been used, even if the piece itself is wonderfully feminist in intention and I’m certainly not accusing you of any conscious sexism. I’d be interested to know if you think I’m nitpicking! I think it was the word “females” which made me wince, by the way; personally I wouldn’t ever use the terms “gays” or “females”: I’d talk about gay or LGBT people and women.

  19. Wallace Wylie April 15, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Lucy: I think you are right. I would say that I wrote the piece very quickly and didn’t do my usual level of editing, but that would probably just mean that I allowed certain cultural biases to stay in, so maybe it was for the best in a way. I wanted there to be a debate because I didn’t see one happening, so I risked not thinking things through completely. I would say since I was writing it as a reaction to the commentary on the group I did see the audience as the very people you describe, which therefore leaves the article itself somewhat deficient. When I read it in print I thought I came off as a very angry male, which I was, but I hoped that wouldn’t be off-putting. And I did actually mean to write “full of male teenagers” but it slipped through. I’m happy for people to see that my own approach is not a perfected one by any means, as long as they don’t use that as a way to avoid addressing the topics I attempted to bring up.

  20. Lucy Cage April 15, 2011 at 1:57 am

    @Wallace: ah, thanks for taking it so well! I am all for righteous angry men, and as I said you’re stirring up a necessary and fascinating debate here. Misogyny excused by hipsters is something that really riles me, too: there’s far too much laidback “oh, yeah, it’s all cool, anything goes” type of shit going on now. Cultural criticism being swamped by the irony generation. It pisses me off.

    Oh god, I’m sorry, but I have something else to say…

    This here sentence, the same one that Ian Rogers picked up on: “I ask myself why a female would write such things and the answer can only be that the patriarchal nature of society is so strong and overwhelming that many females have never acquired the necessary self-respect to reject this kind of vile and hateful misogyny.”

    This female would write such things and she is brimming with self-respect. A writer might fancy an engineer and think it worth mentioning: fancying the people you’re writing about is not off-limits in the field of music criticism, even if it is sometimes crass. And Syd is quite something. Not just her coolth but her attitude and her capabilities. She’s only eighteen and she’s working in one of the most male-dominated corners of a male-dominated world. I think that makes her both oozing with sexy and worthy of remark and I don’t think that it is vile, hateful or misogynist to say so. It’s all about context, no?

  21. Wallace Wylie April 15, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Lucy: Again, you’re right. That is a part of the article that was actually bad writing on my part and when I reprint it on my blog I’m going to change it. I thought the whole tone of the LA Weekly article was rather vile, but it seemed like I was saying that it was that one statement about Syd’s looks that was vile and hateful misogyny, when in fact I meant the whole article. I really just meant to highlight the thing about her looks as an example of typical music writing that focuses on a females looks as a major part of her appeal.

  22. Hannah Golightly April 15, 2011 at 3:30 am

    @Princess Stomper- you are a feminist by your own definition, even if it’s minus the word/label. Own it.

    @Lucy Cage- you skirted the issue of the use of the word Nigga and went on about my idea of censoring the use of Rape in lyrics. Why? I was simply making the point that Odd Future have no claim to the subject matter and that their input on the issue is offensive beyond belief. Just like I as a white woman have no claim to the subject matter of Nigga. It is a sensitive issue and not one that I can lay claim to expressing while preserving the dignity of those affected by this issue. It reminds me of what I think Wallace said about Sexism being tollerated to some extent and Racism being rejected. They are both on a par for those who experience them. You also went on to comment on the context that something appears in, which is fine, until you yourself take things out of context as you did with the point I was making. It seemed from your responses that as long as things fitted into your own personal value system they were fine…

  23. Hannah Golightly April 15, 2011 at 3:35 am

    @Lucy Cage- p.s. Any woman or indeed man who feels like there is a threat of Rape or they have been raped in their lives, or they care about and know about someone who has been raped is ‘affected by rape’ and therefore they have every reason to own the issue. That’s the point I was making. Rape fantasy from a violent male point of view doesn’t come close to fitting this criteria and I don’t think I really needed to spell that out to make the point.

  24. Hannah Golightly April 15, 2011 at 3:43 am

    Has anyone considered that Odd Future might be spreading sexism, but in the opposite way that they intended? Is Tyler exposing taboo subjects that ALL men think about? Is he telling us the truth about men in general? Is it just un-PC to mention, but all men are thinking these things? I fucking hope not. That would be devastating for humanity.

  25. Lucy Cage April 15, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Hannah, I really haven’t said anywhere that if something fits into my personal value system it is fine, not at all, and I’m sorry you thought that’s what I was implying. I wasn’t saying that what the songs express is “fine” by any means: it’s just that I don’t think that deciding who does or does not have the ownership of certain subjects is a helpful way of countering the use of images of violent misogyny. I’d say, personally, that it’s more useful to constantly question assumptions and express your concerns/anger/disgust, as you’ve been doing, and to work in society to counter the concrete sexism that those songs are an articulation of – even if, as Tyler claims, they are quite consciously the “dark shit” that white creative types can express in their art without the same censure. (And there’s a whole other argument about free speech and art… )

    What I was disagreeing with was this statement: “If rape is to be mentioned in a song, let it be done by someone who HAS been raped”.

    It’s very different to “Any woman or indeed man who feels like there is a threat of Rape or they have been raped in their lives, or they care about and know about someone who has been raped is ‘affected by rape’ and therefore they have every reason to own the issue”. That’s pretty much everybody, except people without mothers, sisters or female friends, given that any woman might at some point feel threatened by rape. Rape is a human issue. Any human being has a right to mention, comment on, spin stories about and write songs about rape. And everyone else has the right to say if they think that the way it was handled was offensive, as loudly and angrily and coherently as possible. Good on Wallace for doing that with this article and pretty fucking poor show of LA Weekly woman for pussyfooting around the whole topic as “weird” subject matter.

    And on that subject, I didn’t deliberately “skirt” around the issue of using the word ‘nigga’ Racism isn’t tolerated, as you say; if the white teen metal band equivalent of Odd Future fantasied about blowing “niggahs” up (even if they did it with well-intentioned ideas of shocking their listeners into reaction/action), they would be torn to cyber-shreds. You have articulated beautifully why you loathe the word “bitch” just as others have expressed what is so offensive about white kids using the word “niggah”. I’d rather call people out on hatefulness than get into censorship. Especially when art is such a tricksy thing; it’s near impossible to determine the motivation or intention behind a song that conjures up violence: is it the song or its creator (or the character that the creator is putting words into the mouth of) which is loathsome?

    That tricksiness is why I disagree that some topics are off-limits for some people. it’s a line of argument that ends with men not being “allowed” to use female narrators or straight writers to write gay sex scenes. Would you question an author over whether they had had personal experience of abuse if they wrote about it? I hope not. Writing from personal experience doesn’t make art more valid, it might just make it better expressed.

  26. Falafel Roast Whore April 15, 2011 at 6:03 am

    You people are forgetting the fact that these kids are age 20 and under. They are just LA skater kids talking about vile things because people like you get all offended about it. No kid out there is going to listen to Odd Future then go rape someone because of it, nor are they going to go commit a hate crime. Its called “shock value”. It’s amusing to them that people like most of you get all bent out of shape because of a joke rap song they made in their bedroom. If they were all politically correct and feminist friendly then no one would be paying any attention to them. Sure it’s a twisted sense of humor and most normal people won’t agree with it, but thats the whole point. Let them be, if you don’t like it, don’t listen. Freedom of speech motherfuckers.

  27. Lucy Cage April 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Nah, we like the arguing, thanks. I think the point is that there are blogloads of hipsters out there creaming themselves over these kids and their shock tactics, the same hipsters that the kids are quite consciously baiting and mocking. It’s not the band themselves that the original article is taking issue with, it’s the fawning acceptance by (predominantly white, middle-class) music writers hoping to hop on the bandwagon, and the fact that nothing, not even songs about violent rape, is shocking or offensive anymore.
    I dunno, but that seems like an interesting state of affairs, doesn’t it? Isn’t worth at least having a debate about?

  28. Everett True April 15, 2011 at 7:32 am

    What Lucy says.

  29. Darragh April 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Perhaps they rap about these things because thats what sells records nowadays?

  30. Muzz April 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I have only skip-read this. I’ll just say this. I grew up at the birth of people kicking against the pricks, kids who dug The Clash and being introduced to reggae, who kicked-back at the actually to be fair in context, understandable xenophobia of our elders back then, who would use the N word like it was normal (as to them, umm… it was).
    We realised something was wrong with that, we were kids hanging out in schools with the kids of first and second generation black immigrants into this country. We’d all be cool, some people would use the N word, we’d grimace, they’d shrug and bridges were built.
    THEN along came the idiotic liberal apologists. Who fought corners people werent actually hiding in. Other corners needed fighting. like sexism but again, these corners became so crammed with the apologists they almost suffocated the people there were trying to defend. So became the world of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. To the point where people cannot cough without it being to the offence of someone with Bronchitis. I don’t need apologists to tell me whats right from wrong. I didn’t need them back then and I don’t need them now. I grew up in the stanuchest of Labour communities, then I saw Britain vote in the nearest thing I’ve ever seen to Margaret Thatcher – no NOT David Cameron, Tony FUCKING Blair. The world didnt turn dayglo, you know you know, the country turned purple. A wolf in sheeps clothing, a Tory in a red tie but with a Cabinet deriding any form of fucking fun, all the while taking tea with the Cool Brittania set (nice one, Noel). So now we have a world full of 30 somethings convinced they cannot breathe without offending people who are in an iron lung, tall, Liberal apologists afraid to look down on the vertically challenged and ironically, blackboards in schools all suddenly turned green… great whilst chalk was the emdium btu what about the new age of classroom projection and white boards, isn’t that racist, or even supremicist? I’m being skittish by now but it’s just how low things have sunk. I’ll quote Rimbaud to finish if I may
    “Black mans got his problems and his way to deal with it,
    so dont fool yourself you’re helping with your white liberal shit”

  31. chris April 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

    the beats are tight. his flow is wild, best I’ve heard since lil wayne in his prime. i like it. I’d never heard of them before this. so thanks.

  32. Heywood April 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

    The faggiest article I’ve ever read.
    Does this white knight,sensitive new age guy shtick help you with the ladies?

    I enjoy the music of Odd Future,not because of all the rape and smack talk,but in spite of it. Young,talented kids who saw a problem with an old,broken system and decided to do things their own way.

  33. chris April 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    fuckin word heywood.

  34. Everett True April 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Chris, I’m interested. Is this how you address your colleagues at The Age?

    “Hey Chris, how’s it going?”

    “Fuckin word, Munro.”

  35. chris April 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    occasionally, yes. was gonna spell fuckin with the two-f’s fukkin, but decided to keep it seemly.

    the real me comes out on internet bulletin boards.

    hiphop 4 eva

  36. slaughtermatic loverrr April 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    @falafel roast whore – freedom of speech means motherfuckers can debate something they don’t agree with. AT NO POINT did anyone call for this music to be banned or censored, did you even read the article?

    And Muzz? “So now we have a world full of 30 somethings convinced they cannot breathe without offending people who are in an iron lung” Dude, I don’t know what parallel universe you’re in, but obviously you’re on the internet, have you looked around?! Or listened to talkback radio(from what you’ve said you seem to be in the right age group for it) or watched Fox news or even just interacted with other humans these days?? Examples of anyone considering something so trivial and insignificant as the feelings of another before they open their mouths are far and few between.
    For the record I’m not 30 yet and I don’t use an iron lung. Just thought I should specify, is all.

    As a teen I took to Cannibal Corpse, Slayer and the like thoughout my highschool years because like most teenagers I wanted to piss my parents off and stick it to the man, motherfucker. After I graduated my tastes diversified somewhat. Now I look back at all that stuff and though I still have a profound respect for the musicianship I find the lyrical content to be quite hilarious and just a leeettle childish. I think Odd Future fill the suburban teen with an axe to grind against all parents and teachers demographic quite effectively. And also the middle-class hipster who writes for Pitchfork and it’s ilk who is searching for street cred demographic, too, obviously.

  37. kenny martini April 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    it’s just teenagers having fun ya big dummies!

  38. Wallace Wylie April 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    “Does this white knight,sensitive new age guy shtick help you with the ladies?”

    I’m not sure, why don’t you ask MY GIRLFRIEND. Yeah, that’s right. Girlfriend. Jealous much?

  39. Carmen April 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I’m very impressed that somebody had the balls to write an article about this. It’s 2011, people who don’t bat an eyelid at these sorts of repugnant shock tactics shouldn’t exist.

  40. ben April 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    the backlash seems as inept as the praise.

    should nae of clicked here (thanks EVERETT), but yeah – the writers dont get it (shocker), and then…the other writers dont get it.

    collapseboard caters to a closed community. you’d all do better to go get in the “OTHER” press’s face and cause a stink. too much back-patting (the negative-hip)

    take a page from odd future – be crass. and a lil fearless.

    wallace. take lucy’s advice. cuz yeah, tis a bit white knight.

    and mine.

    go get ‘em tigers.

  41. Everett True April 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Marcus over at the often great Australian music criticism site The Vine (yes, it’s a plug) just linked me to this Tumblr blog about Odd Future.

  42. chris April 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    repugnant shock tactics? hahahahaha.

  43. Joshdivision April 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I think the thing about Odd Future is the whole reason they use these lyrics is so people write articles like this. Kind of a predictable (but weirdly late) moral panic. What I don’t understand is an why author can create a character and this character be (largely) morally distanced from the author, however if a musician creates a character (i.e Tyler The Creator) they are seen to “be” this character.

    This writer should probably go to bed.

  44. Everett True April 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Stephen Cole and Tamsin Chapman like this.

    Everett True
    You might find this of interest, White Hotel

    White Hotel
    yeah I was just reading this, thanks ET. I’m glad Wallace wrote this, though I differ massively with the idea of there being no racism in critical approaches to music.

    misogyny and racism work very differently and I don’t know if I’d have drawn the same conclusions Wallace draws – but this is a conversation that needs to happen and I agree that critical approaches have thus far been totally inadequate. I read a piece in the Wire yesterday that mentioned the misogyny in one sentence and just moved on.

    I cued up that Jimmy Fallon performance yesterday for a hip hop loving friend who hadn’t heard them, and he said astutely ‘it’s Black black metal.’ and I think he might be right.

    White Hotel
    what I like most about the piece is the way Wallace points out what the critical voices assume about the reader. that they won’t be either gay or female is the least of it, tbh..

    White Hotel
    I wish there were *more* reticence from critics in commenting on music from cultures other than their own. or if not reticence, care and respect for the cultural-political specificities that inform them

    Everett True
    Yes, I agree. Misogyny and racism often get categorised together: obviously there are points of similarity but also major points of difference. Still, it’s often true that the music press (usually liberal by nature) shies away from addressing misogyny even – especially – when it’s overt.

    I think that this conversation that needs to be had, as well.

    Everett True
    Sorry, I deleted my previous comment because it wasn’t quite saying what I wanted it to. Hence White Hotel’s comment. It was something about how I think I sometimes hold back in cases like this because I’m naturally wary of commenting on cultures different to mine

    White Hotel
    this is why I think it’s really important to have a diverse set of voices in commentary. I’ve been reading a lot about the history of womanism and Black feminism recently, the parallel history of ideas informed by living at the intersection of complementary oppressions. completely fascinating. I wonder personally what rape really means to Odd Futures – Neil Kulkarni has an interesting take on them too – does Wallace often write about hip hop?

    Travis Michael Keller
    odd future is retarded

    Everett True
    I don’t know. Wallace Wylie do you often write about hip hop?

    Louis Pattison
    Invoking Skrewdriver to criticise a hip-hop group is a bit of a leap no? Maybe if Tyler The Creator had a stake in some pro-rape groups I guess.

    Louis Pattison
    Not to give their music a free pass or anything, but one of these things is not like the other.

    White Hotel
    that’s true Louis. hey ET did you see the Quietus piece on this? also really interesting

    http://thequietus.com/articles/05810-the-strange-and-frightening-world-of-odd-future-tyler-the-creator

    White Hotel ‎
    (though stops short of saying, as Wallace does, to his credit, ‘not everyone can listen to this with equal dispassion’ – still assumes the lack of investment of the reader, and by extension perhaps implies homogeneity of readership)

    White Hotel
    btw I should mention I love them

    Travis Michael Keller
    Tyler is a fan of linkin park and good charlotte. maybe include them.

    Louis Pattison
    I kinda prefer Lil B – I think something definitely interesting to be written about his relationship with sexism/homosexuality/homophobia by someone who someone who knows way more about that stuff than me.

    Tim Goldie
    http://www.whomakesthenazis.com/2011/04/weather-warning-shower-of-shit-expected.html

    Wallace Wylie
    I was going to take a back seat in terms of comments because I have a tendency to argue everything so I’ll just say a couple of things. No, I don’t often write about hip-hop. I would say up until a few years ago I wasn’t in any way qualified but since I moved to America I’ve become much more of a fan. There’s been times in the past year where for weeks it’s the only thing I listen to.

    The article came out of anger at the cultural commentators more than anything else. I’m not asking for Odd Future to be censored, or for them to be held up as the worse thing imaginable. I just thought somebody should be saying something along critical lines. I wrote it quickly and probably could have gone back and tidied it up a bit. It’s true racism and misogyny are very different things, but I think asking why the two are treated so differently is still a good question.

    Wallace Wylie
    I wasn’t trying to say there is no racism in music or criticism, I was more trying to say that blatant racism would not be tolerated in the press these days, but blatant misogyny is. It’s not only celebrated but intellectualised. Someone just posted a video where Tyler the Creator is talking about his lyrics and he compares them to movies. Then he says “I’m not just talking about raping a bitch” and it made his whole defence fall flat. As Hannah Golightly states in the comments of the article, the word “bitch” is horrible and when it is interchangeable with the word “woman” then there’s a problem.

    Wallace Wylie
    One last thing. I’m quite prepared to be wrong on many issues. I thought the critical silence surrounding Odd Future was astounding so I took a chance and wrote an angry essay. If I’m wrong I want to know why. I’d much rather be publicly wrong than think that I let something pass by without having it debated. I ask people for strength to fight misogyny in the essay so I thought it only proper that I risk finding out if I myself hadn’t thought things through completely.

    Alison Wonderland
    I like the fact you (mR Wylie) have a cat on your back in your profile photo… That’s it though! Don’t be writing his skool essays… he’s a cheating cheater…

    Hannah Golightly
    I think racism and sexism are the same thing in different guises actually. They are both a form of inequality and oppression. They can be felt to varying degrees depending on where a person is… for example I found out that living in Greece the sexism was extreme. I felt it at every turn, especially due to having blonde hair. And I’m not talking about words, I am talking about violence.

    Ian Keith Rogers
    My favourite bit was when I got called a rape denier after pointing out that the author makes wildly presumptive statements about another writer. Kind of hard to be bothered with ‘the debate’ after that. PS: Not so sure about this music as the ‘Black black metal’…mainly because key figures in Odd Future are yet to be convicted of the crimes they rhyme about. Thought it bore much more of a resemblance to grindcore.

  45. Everett True April 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Erika Meyer, Xan Nyfors, Stephen Delaney and 4 others like this.

    Alban Rautenstrauch
    Thanks for the link…

    Paul Lloyd
    Sooo, not wanting to jump on any bandwagon sporting a knee-jerk stance I listened to some of the tracks. Could I put forth the theory that a number of these predominantly white, middle class music-writers don’t actually understand a word of what these guys are singing about. I hasten to add that I’m not defending Odd Future, from what I did glean from the lyrics mysogyny abounds. I’m white and middle-class, I spent three years working in a music outlet that majored in Rap, listened to it everyday and I still can’t understand the vast majority of the meanings implicit in the lyrics. Sorry if this all sounds so very white, middle-class. Like so many other examples similar to these miscreants they will continue to foist their shit on us so long as the money grabbing labels release it to the greater listening public and misguided, or plain stupid, music hacks harp on about it.

    Paul Lloyd
    Just read the Quietus piece and also duly noted White Hotels comments. Let’s face face it I’m dyed in the wool middle-class with an ever growing sense of nimbyism. So, no I don’t have to listen to stuff like Odd Future, it’s in another ballpark, culturally speaking. What disturbs me is the blatant eagerness to lyrically evoke those particular aspects of any given culture, and also the eagerness shown in lauding it, either as a listener or a critic. I was born into a working class environment in the 70′s and grew up alongside, and ran with some really nasty individuals from the Croydon area. In the time during and after I never felt the need to relive any of the inhuman acts I sometimes witnessed or was regaled with the details of. Why would anybody want to put into stark words the seeming glorification of inhumanity against another human or to yourself, be it rape, uncontrollable drug abuse, violence whatever. I know it’s out there, I avoid it and protect my family from it & any other individuals who I am in a position to help. I don’t need graphic representation to help me along the way. So bollocks to some of the cultural references shtick. Rape, homophobia, violence in general is abhorrent in a great number of cultures. Don’t fucking sing about it, or intellectualize about said songs, do something to eradicate it.

    Nadine McBay
    well said Paul.

    Joseph Kyle
    the Frogs did this vulgar raunchy shock sort of thing wayyyy better in 1994

    Sarah Datblygu
    Excellent piece. I think it’s important to make a distinction though between material that just happens to have reference to taboo subjects or mentions the ‘n’ word or whatever, or has a different slant on it – and material that actually espouses rape, or racism. The reaction to Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’ being a case in point. I think the intention behind the words is what’s important. It’s why Chris Morris talking about paedophilia is funny, and why Jim Davidson talking about beating up women isn’t funny. Because he actually thinks it’s good to treat women like that. And he’s not funny, but I digress.. The reason I think bands like the Country Teasers tackle all manner of fucked up taboo subjects so well, is firstly because the lyrics are not meant to be taken from the first person, (for the most part), they are the embodiment of society’s fucked up views. And also because they don’t just use ‘misogynistic’ language, but ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’, and all dark shit that might come into one’s head! But it’s not espousing or celebrating those things. I think it’s important to see the difference and not just recoil at words like ‘rape’, ‘bitch’, ‘faggot’ or ‘nigger’. Fucking good article though- esp. the assassination of hipster values, love it. I haven’t heard this Odd Future, I will take a listen but will be v surprised if it’s genuinely shocking.

  46. Princess Stomper April 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    “Has anyone considered that Odd Future might be spreading sexism, but in the opposite way that they intended? Is Tyler exposing taboo subjects that ALL men think about? Is he telling us the truth about men in general? Is it just un-PC to mention, but all men are thinking these things?”

    And that is why I won’t “own it”, Hannah. While I’m happy to speak up against things I know are wrong, I equally know that pitching a blanket insult against 3 billion people is wrong.

    So we have rich white people convinced that poor black people are some completely different species beyond our comprehension. Then we have women convinced that men are some completely different species beyond our comprehension. I don’t believe that. I think we’re all ultimately pretty similar, defined individually by our choices. According to that Louis Theroux doc, shock tactics sell, and that’s what’s at work here.

    That said, Wikipedia has an interesting entry:

    Starting in 2005, sales of hip hop music in the United States began to severely wane, leading Time magazine to question if mainstream hip-hop was “dying.” Billboard Magazine found that, since 2000, rap sales dropped 44%, and declined to 10% of all music sales, which, while still a commanding figure when compared to other genres, is a significant drop from the 13% of all music sales where rap music regularly placed. NPR culture critic Elizabeth Blair noted that, “some industry experts say young people are fed up with the violence, degrading imagery and lyrics.”

  47. Iamboring April 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    From this interview with Tyler the Creator:

    “I’m writing the story from mind of some fucking serial killer from 30 years ago who was a white male.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OoZNENl0Cg&feature=player_embedded

    One thing hasn’t been presented so far in the comments or in the article itself is some (contextualised) analysis of the lyrics themselves. Anyone have any of the offending lyrics at hand? No one’s mentioned writing lyrics in character to give insight into the mental processes behing violence, abuse and rape. Such works in our society can expose and lampoon the repugnant quality of these mentalities, rather than glamourising them. One cinematic example that springs to mind is Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer (which was censored in Britain for scenes containing violence against women)- I don’t think the John McNaughton’s objective was to normalise violence against women, maybe Tyler’s isn’t either?

    I’ve listened to Bastard quite a few times noting snippets of pretty-offensive lyrics, but I’ve not really analysed them in depth. Wallace, it might be good when writing articles in future to quote a little from the primary source that you’re citing. Much of this debate so far has dwelt on the personal politics of the posters and not on the ‘offending’ source itself.

  48. Princess Stomper April 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    @ lamboring, if that’s the case then Wallace is right – it’s an indictment of the critics if they don’t mention it and instead champion the band on the basis of a simple celebration of violence.

    It’s a direct contradiction of “indeed their defenders claim that the fact that they “don’t give a fuck” is what makes their whole output so exhilarating.”

    It would be like someone reviewing ‘Brass Eye’ at face value.

    When you definitely know that something is written from that character/satirical perspective, it does throw a very different light on it. That said, there’s a number of songs by bands I love that I just can’t listen to because the lyrics are just too hard to hear.

  49. Niall April 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    The Root “Odd Future’s Odd Fan Base” http://www.theroot.com/views/odd-future-s-odd-fan-base

    Is it cos he is black?

  50. William Williamson April 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Oh god, the Elvis hip-shakers of the next generation! shocking. repulsive. we’re all fucked!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    zzzzzzz.

  51. Hannah Golightly April 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    @Muzz- you are full of shhhhh! in my opinion. I am a woman and since the issue here is lack of outrage at the over hostile sexism of the potentially damaging lyrics… step off. I feel sick that there are people out there that think this is ‘a bit of fun’. Trust me on this one, rape is not entertainment or fun.

    @Joshdivision- I think you make a good point about why it is that authors of (presume you mean) books don’t get the moral judgement of their fictional characters stuck to their own reputation. So why is it any different for musicians? Fair point. But one I can explain- ever wondered why Hollywood actors can never be rock stars? It’s because we want soul in our music. We don’t want phoniness. These mega-stars should attempt a career in pop, where playing a part is par for the course. But unless it’s pop, musicians are generally trading on their voices. And generally, we want to hear their voices express their real ‘voice’ if you get what I mean. Think about that one.

  52. Hannah Golightly April 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    @Princess- a blanket insult? I asked a series of questions and made zero assertions or insults in the bit you quoted me on. I thought it would be interesting for the debate. Turn it on it’s head. And you were actually the one making an assumption about ALL feminists based on one misread comment that I wrote that wasn’t saying anything, only questioning some things.

  53. Wallace Wylie April 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    @Hannah Golightly. I wanted to thank you for your part about hating the word ‘bitch’. I do too, but nobody seems to care. It makes my skin crawl when I hear it, even in supposedly humorous settings like “It’s Britney bitches”. The use of the N word is limited to the black community for good reasons. It was an offensive word that was reclaimed by black people in America. It seems to me that the word ‘bitch’ is not owned by women. They’re not allowed to own it because men are still so fond of using it. Not only as an abusive term for women but as an emasculating term for men. Seems to me usage of words like ‘bitch’ or ‘faggot’ should be for those whom the term was originally meant to dehumanise, but it’s not. People start harping on about things being too PC but I don’t hear them dropping the N word all the time. There’s a massive hypocrisy here.

    I think there’s another thing going on that I want to bring up. Why are males so fond of exploring female degradation and why are critics so fond of acclaiming it? How many movies can you think of with a woman being raped? Now how many with a man? The female body has become some disposable form that male artists can work through their neurosis on. Personally, I cannot watch Lars Von Trier movies because he seems overly fond of exploring female degradation and that says more about him than what he’s trying to get across. Before anyone loses it I’m not asking for censorship, I’m asking why. Horror movies have a tendency to focus on females as victims. The excuse is always that this is a reflection of society, or that the artist is working through something, or their misogyny becomes intellectualised (“Straw Dogs” is one long exercise in disgust and insecurity about femininity and female sexuality. It’s also a really terrible movie). Men seem overly keen to place women in the role of victims, never taking the time to explore emasculation or violated masculinity, probably because that is too disturbing for them. Better to explore the woman as victim and the all-encompassing and powerful drive of uninhibited maleness.

  54. Neil Kulkarni April 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I wrote this a while back for DJ Magazine, it never ran. Since then I’ve got tremendously bored with Odd Future (as I indicate here: http://thequietus.com/articles/06028-hip-hop-first-quarterly-report-the-us) but what the hell, here’s what I thought way back in 2010. I’m not saying I’d recant it all now, but jeez, their sctick has got awful dull of late.

    ODD FUTURE WOLFGANG KILL THEM ALL

    “Welcome to my home
    the place that I hate
    the place that I love
    the planet of the apes
    the place that I loathe
    the boy minus father
    equals boy minus heart
    My cup runneth over
    with sith lord dark side of the force
    in the trunk of a Porsche tryna butt fuck Yoda
    shotgun; drop T, earl flow shogun”
    Jabbing with a pen while you faggots getting toes done”
    - Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All, ‘Fuck This Christmas’

    Nothing kills mystique in pop more than over-explication. In the internet age, hiding yourself, only revealing shards and fragments over time to build a sense of intrigue is nigh on impossible. When someone, or something manages it it’s a rare delight indeed and it’s something that LA hip-hop crew ODD FUTURE WOLFGANG KILL THEM ALL (or OFWGKTA) have been throwing down slowly for two years now. A loose-limbed collective of kids, skaters, artists, filmmakers, MCs & beatmakers, what’s most startling about them isn’t that they’re old seasoned veterans playing a wise-assed game in reinvention, or that they’re pop intellectuals putting together a hip collage of previous rap transgressions. OFWGKTA have very little to do with the past and everything to do with right fkn now. They’re kids. Not Disney kids or showbiz kids or even kids with a dream. They’re kids with nightmares. They’re nightmare kids who know life’s a nightmare. And they don’t wanna wake up. They want to drag you in with them. A 10-strong Crenshaw-borne crew of readers, ranters and rapscallions they defy categorization, create their own new blueprints every time they drop, and though they seem almost designed to tick boxes for critics, have hoodwinked and out-thought those critics every step of the way. This is music that makes me feel old, thank fuck. Remember music that you simply couldn’t figure out, that you couldn’t link to anything else, but you knew you loved? Odd Future are some of the only people making that kind of music as we face down the world’s end. For all the words slung at them, Odd Future are where you have to stop talking and listen, and read, and watch, and submit. Welcome, and wake up to, THEIR Cooper-black fonted world. The lyrics above are from their just-dropped Xmas single. It is, genuinely, diabolical.

    “Next thing you know we’re on earl’s burgundy carpet
    and she’s kicking and screaming for me to fucking stop it (scream)
    “look, you know it’s not rape if you like it, bitch
    so sit down like a pretty ho and don’t fight the shit”
    Earl Sweatshirt, ‘Epar’
    Fittingly most can’t pinpoint the first time they heard OFWGKTA, more likely they’ll never forget the first time they SAW Earl Sweatshirt’s video for his track ‘Earl’. You get used, surfing YouTube or vimeo, to watching music videos that don’t stick with you, that get flushed from the memory as soon as they’re done. This was a video that haunted you, not only for it’s jarring imagery of kids getting wasted and then falling apart (literally – the most memorable scene featured someone removing their own fingernail with a pair of pliers), but also cos of the astonishing mental combustion going on in Earl’s (“black Ted Bundy, sick as John Gacy”) stream-of-fuckedness lyrics & the molten futurist soundscape conjured up behind it. With biographical information scant, and the scent-trails of their twitter-feeds and blogs only adding to the confusion, people clutched at straws to find antecedents and influences. Wrongheaded old farts pointed to 90s horrorcore, cineastes pointed to Larry Clarke & Harmony Korine. What separated OFWGKTA from all of this was their utter resistance to being pinned down to ANY lineage bar the one they were blazing themselves – unlike all of the influences mentioned Odd Future weren’t looking at themselves from a distance and depicting, they were simply BEING who they were. Kids. And kids aren’t these simplistic little nodules of received influence – kids have an amoral, occasionally frightening smartness that enables them to make artistic leaps older more hidebound-by-tradition MCs, producers, & film-makers simply can’t make. What became clear the further you got immersed in Odd Future’s panoply of deformed beats and deranged rhymes (esp. in tracks by other members like Tyler the Creator – co-founder of the crew with Earl – Domo Genius, and Hodgy Beats) was that far from being the resurrection of something long-lost from rap (and thus something hipsters were gonna jump all over – and they did), what was going on was the explosion of a totally new unique method in hip-hop madness. Musically, straight off, it was clear that OFWGKTA were the only producers in rap who seemed genuinely informed by an insanely wide palette of music, from mainstream rap to avant-rock to the generated noise of their immediate environments. Just as, musically, Odd Future’s sound was unplaceabley multifarious yet somehow absolutely located in their own distorted realities, lyrically Odd Future leave nothing out, give you every single tendril of their teased-out brainjizz. There’s no dilution or diversion in Odd Future’s music, what you get is the way these kids think uncut, and anyone’s who’s strayed or worked or been in a playground or skatepark or classroom recently knows that kids come up with THEE sickest shit. The moral outrage that some have expresseed regarding Odd Future can only come from those who don’t know that for most kids, viscera, gore, rape, homophobia, murder, fantasy, sex, violence aren’t ‘subjects’ to be dilletantishly dabbled in. Sci-fi, serial killers, comic-books, the saturation of sickness, they’re the fuel your mind runs on at that age, the age where, as Tyler says “our imaginations are creations of the fucking situation that’s having our brains racing”. Dodgy-as-fuck as the lyrics may be, Odd Future’s words are the only poetry out there that seems to match up to the frantic fractured way the dungball planet appears to a teenage head too quickwitted to be duped by an older generations govt or industries or program for the future – all OUR old taboos become casual threats, chat, the grisly day-to-day currency of kids conversation. Uniquely in a hip-hop world obsessed with becoming men, faux-sophistication and the career-ladder of recognition and ambition, Odd Future seemed to genuinely not give a fuck about anything other than scraping their brain-pans, cleansing the bugs out from under their skin, staying on the outside. That process of turning their darkest innermost thoughts inside-out has given us some of the most vital, violently divisive hip-hop music and imagery of the last 2 years. What makes Odd Future more than just a repository for nonchalant shock-tactics and predictable outrage is the genuinely unsettling music that accompanies their thoughts, the entirely untutored way they arrive at skull-fucking new sounds by dint of pure untethered imaginative power. Tyler The Creator’s stunning ‘Bastard’ mixtape (including the groggy eerie robo-rape dream ‘VCR’), Earl Sweatshirt’s equally brain-jangling ‘Earl’ LP, Jet Age’s bathtub-psychedelic ‘Voyager’ mix, Hodgy Beats & Left Brain hooking up to form the mighty Mellohype & drop the fantastic ‘Yellowhite’ were some highlights of the ever-growing Odd Future world, and last year’s ‘Odd Future Presents Radical’ mix was some kind of cumulative highpoint for the collective, an abrasive unhinged hour of headphone-hebraphrenia wherein the twisted and tortured MCs unleash a host of outright mindblowing, stomach-churning tweaks to the Queens-English light-years beneath, and beyond, anything else that popped off on planet rap in 2010. Prepare to hold your hand to your mouth in sheer wide-eyed wonder & disbelief at what you’re watching and hearing. When’s the last time someone on Def Jam did that to you?
    “Nigga had the fuckin’ nerve to call me immature
    Fuck you think I made Odd Future for?
    To wearin’ fuckin’ suits and make good decisions?
    Fuck that nigga, Wolf Gang”
    -Tyler The Creator ft. Hodgy Beats ‘Sandwitches’
    All Odd Future music can be accessed via their website oddfuture.com. Unlike older more respectable crews you never get the feeling that Odd Future are waiting for a handout from the soon-extinct dinosaur that is the record biz, rather they’re one of the few crews genuinely harnessing the power of the clicked-on screen to smear their sickness across the planet, via unmissable tweets and vids and downloads. Crucially, you can’t predict what the hell will happen with the kids of Odd Future because the normal trajectories of career ‘progression’ seem utterly irrelevant to them. Unlike the traditional hip-hop underground they’re so misguidedly compared to you get no sense of Odd Future wanting or waiting to crack into the mainstream, and the music and rhymes are simply too mean-spirited to feel like they’re interested in any conventional route to ‘success’. Odd Future seek no nod from rappers who’ve already ‘made it’, in fact sabotage other rappers Wiki pages, have openly called out nigh-on the entirety of mainstream rap as bullshit, are committed only to their own endless indulgence. Crucially, they are emblematic of how small communities of artists are now able to create their own fanbase and their own futures, of how finally we can actually hear people who genuinely don’t give a fuck. Because why play in the ruins of the record industry when we’ve all got our own ruins, our own inner dereliction to explore? Honest, fearless young genius: as of now keep ‘em peeled for the next instalment. Simply put, if you’re not listening to Odd Future in 2010, you’re deaf dumb and blind.

  55. Lucy Cage April 16, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Fukkin word, Kulkarni.

    Ahem. Sorry.

    Great piece, Neil. I’d like to thank you particularly for the phrases “headphone-hebraphrenia” and “teased-out brain-jizz”, which I’m going to drop into every conversation I possibly can from now on. What I loved about what you wrote is that is you’ve nailed the stomach-churning thrill of the noise they make. Love those dark grinding beats.

  56. Lucy Cage April 16, 2011 at 3:39 am

    “I feel sick that there are people out there that think this is ‘a bit of fun’. Trust me on this one, rape is not entertainment or fun.”

    Hannah, sorry to go about this, but it is something that I feel really strongly about: those lyrics, however repulsive you find them, are not rape. And they are entertainment. Those kids are having fun, even if you might not understand why or feel utterly offended that they are. They may well be doing all sorts of other things culturally as well but they are primarily making music. Not raping anyone, or, directly, making fun of any individual who has been raped.

    Thinking something, writing something down, making art out of it is not equivalent to doing it, even if the subject matter offends you to the core. Whoever said it was black black metal had a good point. I’m reminded of Marilyn Manson being blamed for Columbine or the banning of A Clockwork Orange. It’s scary shit but that’s why we’re talking about it.

    Whether or not you think rape a suitable subject for kids to be rapping about is where criticism comes in: are those lyrics really damaging anyone? Do they create or reflect culture? Are they simply playing with the darkest shit they can dredge out of their hormonally-buzzing teenage minds or actually inciting people to action? Why do they want to disgust the old, the white, the middle-class so? (Sure that’s pretty obvious, really.) That’s where the debate is, calling them up on the fire they’re playing with. And calling up the writers who rave about them, too, as Wallace is doing: is it really the “guiltiest of thrills” to enjoy their songs, as one (male, hipster, intellectual) blogger wrote: what the fuck’s that all about? But the fact remains that they are having fun and making art, not murdering anyone.

  57. David April 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I think age and context is something that needs to be taken into consideration here. I feel it’s a similar situation to when Eminem first came out in the late nineties and it was “faggot this, faggot that.” In some parts of the world, that doesn’t have the connotations it would in other places – as Eminem said at the time, it was just a word that was thrown around as an insult. His later work has seen him drop the use of homophobia almost entirely, when he came to realise what it meant from a worldwide perspective.

    OK, we’re not going to see OFWGKTA performing with Elton John anytime soon, but they really are just kids – I believe some of them are as young as 16. What they’re attempting to do, at the very least, is portray characters with a horror twist – I honestly don’t believe these kids are a pack of gay-hating rapists, just like I didn’t believe Eminem was one.

  58. polarbearisdying April 16, 2011 at 9:53 am

    So apparently, it’s a complaint about the music writers, not the Odd Futures themselves. And therefore, isn’t the problem just that 99% of music writers are shit? Just like 99% of anything is shit. And the writers lack the critical faculties to examine this stuff with any real intelligence behind the words.

    And let’s say that Neil Kulkarni isn’t in that 99%.

  59. Wallace Wylie April 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Then perhaps (gasp) we might disagree. I like pieces of writing that challenge me. I don’t take them as personal attacks.

    And let’s say others might feel the same.

  60. Jed April 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I think the music is interesting and compelling as far as hip hop goes but I don’t think they’re saying a goddamn thing worth thinking about and that’s the rap double standard in journalism for you again. Whether it’s offensive or not- I don’t care, but it IS dumb. It’s like even the smartest comic book isn’t as smart as the smartest book, but people who are highbrow (i.e.- white journalists) think they need to justify their taste by putting different mediums to a different standard. That kind of misguided relativism happens in music, too.

  61. faggotass April 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    you just do not understand their concept do u?
    of course u wouldnt. because their minds and the concepts are all on their lyrics.
    you are FORGETTING that they are 19 or under LA skater kids.
    they started nothing from something from their own creativity.
    i personally enjoy their stuff. because they have something that others do not.
    the fucking creativity. at least they had the balls to get out of cruel, nasty old system.
    u skanky white ass making them big deal out of it is just pretty hilarious to me.
    they are kids. faggot.

  62. polarbearisdying April 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    is that about my post? I wasn’t aware of any personal attacks. Actually, I was agreeing with the [pitchfork and whatnot = crap] kind of idea and generally I find it’s best just to tune that stuff out.

  63. Iamboring April 17, 2011 at 2:59 am

    This is essentially a violence in the media debate. I find it very difficult to choose a side here- obviously people celebrating racial/gender-based violence or the domination of the weak by the physically strong is pretty repugnant stuff, but without a very close reading of the text it’s hard to define the position of the author. Is it an exploration of the author’s neuroses? Is that process meant to be in someway cathartic? Are they merely the rantings of a neanderthal?

    Wallace, your filmic examples underline how contentious and difficult this issue is. I’d say you’re totally right about the arch-misogynist Peckinpah, and it’s not hard to decide that once you’ve seen one or two of his films. But Von Trier? I’d argue you’re way off on that one. He consistently writes far better parts for women than anyone in Hollywood (who exercise the real sexism in the film industry- relegating women to bitparts as mothers/wives/love interest, and who’ve effectively hampered the careers of many talented actresses), and many of his films are precisely about the evils of misogyny. I think he uses degradation as an important part of his process in order to align the viewer with the protagonist (in a very similar way to Hubert Selby Jnr, who also suffered at the hands of critics who charged him with obscenity).

    The question now remains, are Odd Future capable of this level of sophistication? Does the fact that they are young black men make some people take their lyrics at face value?

  64. Princess Stomper April 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    @ lamboring “Does the fact that they are young black men make some people take their lyrics at face value?”

    Yes, because young black people are clearly not capable of writing sophisticated, well-thought-through lyrics like their white counterparts. I ought to just nip back in time and drop a memo to Public Enemy, Gang Starr and the young Will Smith about that, because I think they missed that one. ;)

    I’m just going to repeat this over and over: young black poor people are not another species young black poor people are not another species young black poor people are not another species young black poor people are not another species young black poor people are not another species young black poor people are not another species.

    If rappers don’t want to be assumed to be violent, misogynistic thugs then maybe they might consider not killing or pimping? This list is priceless: “Big Lurch is sentenced to life for killing his girlfriend and cutting open her chest and eating part of [her] lung while high on pcp” with a “Buy at Amazon” link next to it.

  65. Hannah Golightly April 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I still believe that Odd Future’s rape fantasy is not entertainment and is offensive to anyone who has ever dealt with this issue first hand. I think debating as much as you like doesn’t change that. I don’t think it is a good contribution to the collective-consciousness and yes I think it does do damage because it trivializes the issue. Whatever people want to say about that is fine. But no one has got me even slightly convinced of the merits of these lyrics. I think the music is good, the lyrics are bad and they won’t be getting a penny out of me, because I put my money where my mouth is. They are not a novelty theatrical act, therefore I think they have portrayed themselves the way they see themselves. Heartless and immature. Talented yes. But really, who gives a fuck?

  66. Niall April 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

    @Wallace, interesting points about films, especially the treatment of female characters in horror movies. But…

    Exploitation in horror films is a two way street – for every viewer who is watching a horror to see a woman get degraded, you can also bet there is another viewer watching it to see a woman fight back and win.

    The majority of heroes (sic) in horror films tend to be women. This may be an easy excuse for some film makers to show their brutalisation, but to me that doesn’t fully explain the powerful heroines in the films of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Robert Rodriguez or Tarantino. Here comes the c-bomb: it’s “complex”.

  67. Wallace Wylie April 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I was actually just thinking of Rodriguez and Tarantino, and the female hero. I think with these two there’s a certain amount of high camp involved, a knowing wink to the camera, as if acknowledging that the badass heroine is what they are portraying her as, a cinematic fantasy. Tarantino does like to play around with cinematic conventions though, and it’s to his credit. The male rape scene in “Pulp Fiction” was shocking, although I read that he originally wanted “My Sharona” to be playing but The Knack said no. That’s lucky for him, because I think that would have given the scene too much of a light-hearted tone (many people I spoke to still found the scene funny regardless). Anyway, I agree that it isn’t always female degradation, but I do think that male directors are more comfortable using a woman to show horror or brutalisation.

  68. Jed April 20, 2011 at 5:49 am

    What Holly Golightly said.

    But also, I’ll say it again. The fact is, they’re not saying anything. The shit is dumb. The music is cool but there is nothing of worth in the lyrics. Hip hop needs to raise its fucking standards. At this point it’s guilty of its own minstrelsy and it has been for a long time.

  69. lol May 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

    everyone needs to stop fucking crying. rape victims don’t listen to odd future. you shouldn’t neither. get the fuck over it. they’re gonna say what they want and you can cry about it all you want but thats probably just gonna make them say so much more. I would hahaha

  70. hannah golightly May 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I have been reading a book about domestic violence and where it comes from (info for this book was gathered by convicts who had abused their wives- the horses mouth.) It comes from society, media and advertising. The messages via adverts, newspapers, internet, music, jokes and conversation with each other forms our beliefs about the world. Whenever a person laughs at a sexist joke, stands up for sexist violence against women in entertainment or porn, they are contributing to domestic violence. This is because they are normalising these hideous messages. These messages become beliefs and norms in people’s minds. Then men think that they are not being abusive, that their behaviour is normal. They have role models and narratives and jokes and media everywhere backing up this fucked up set of ideas, supporting the control and degradation and ultimately abuse of women. If you want to collude with such beliefs, propaganda and people, fine… but the blood is on your hands too if you sit by and allow this sort of thing to happen. Denial doesn’t change the reality. Even if it has a damn good beat and mega production and lovely vocal tone. It’s not a matter of being PC, it’s a matter of the overall safety of women and the conditioning of society. And don’t be dumb enough to think that just because some middle-class educated journalists don’t feel affected by the lyrics, that they will not have their influence on people, because they will.

  71. hannah golightly May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    And I don’t think and have never suggested they are rapists, but they are people celebrating rape in their lyrics. I am with Wallace on his original point. Why is no one bothered about this? Sexist jokes aren’t harmless, people like to suggest they are, but they do a great deal of damage in the long term. So it doesn’t matter if OF think this is a joke or parody or whatever, it is still harmful.

  72. hannah golightly May 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Odd thoughts on Odd Future from the person who wrote this: http://somethingtocryfor.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

  73. Lucy Cage May 27, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Why do you think there’s a discrepancy between what I wrote on my blog and what I’ve written here, Hannah? There’s a whole world of difference between countering deeply-held misogynist convictions about the nature of oppression (especially with people who are making nasty and mistaken direct statements about my gender right at me!) and supporting the right of art to be offensive. That goes for whether or not *I* personally am offended or troubled by the art or not (and there’s plenty of stuff out there that *does* make me flinch) and obviously does not preclude a good old ding-dong discussion about the issues such art might raise. Wallace was completely right in asking why so many writers were just letting the troubling lyrics go, with barely a passing mention of their extremely graphic nature: that’s weird and troubling in itself.

    “They are people celebrating rape in their lyrics”: how do you distinguish between someone writing down their own opinions about rape in song and people writing songs that mess around with troubling images, that put words in the mouth of constructed characters, that are there purely to annoy the liberals? You can’t, not easily. It may well be argued that OF are being incredibly puerile to write such songs, but writing them doesn’t mean OF are “celebrating rape”.

  74. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Actually it does. It really is that simple. If you can’t see that then I think it’s denial.

  75. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I don’t know what goes through your mind to defend OF after writing that piece- only you can answer that one. Why are you asking me?

  76. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Wallace wants to know why music writers are dodging the issue- I am not. Perhaps you are the most qualified to answer the question directly, since you are sweeping the issue under the carpet along with the others. Responding to my politics and opinions on here doesn’t answer the question. I guess it is a matter of what side of the fence so you stand on. I know which side I stand for. You are defending OF and I am condemning their lyrics. But you do not answer the question.

  77. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 5:58 am

    And the dumbest thing of all is you are the only one on here acting like I don’t have the right to be offended by lyrics that were designed to be offensive. What is that all about?

  78. Lucy Cage May 27, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Hi Hannah, I think you may have got me wrong about some of this. You have every right to be offended, of course you do: absolutely nothing I have said here or anywhere else should suggest otherwise and if it did, then I apologise. I’m offended by loads of things – doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be said. And yes, of course liberal, older-than-19, white indie rock critics (such as likes of me and a good chunk of those who have written the reams of copy about OF) are exactly who OF are taunting with their offensiveness, so it’s not surprising that some of it sticks. It all depends whether you think they are straight-up misogynist rapists or kids playing dangerous games. I reckon they know precisely what they are doing and are enjoying the fuss and the hand-wringing mightily. Doesn’t make what they’re doing big’n'clever.

    And what I am defending is actually their right to be puerile/offensive/stupid/annoying/tricksters/whatever the hell they are and also suggesting that the relationship between actual abuse, actual oppression, actual rape and pop music is not as simple as you’ve made it out to be. I’m not defending their lyrics. I don’t know them. I’m commenting on the commentary of the commentary. How meta is that?

    So: why is the issue of the nastiness of the lyrics brushed aside by some writers? (By the way, *this*, this whole discussion, is not the “sweeping things under the carpet” that you accuse me of; this is not dodging the issue: this is disagreement.) Well, it’s either because scenster writers are so afraid of being seen as not being able to take a joke that they let things go without any critical thought at all; that they want so desperately to be on the side of the post-PC, anything-goes, nothing touches me, let’s-swear-and-be-big-and-grown-up-and-ohsopomo crowd that they have lost their very souls*; or because they are too dim to notice what is being played out here. Or because they genuinely don’t think misogyny (whether contrived or real) is an issue worth mentioning (I do, and would, by the way). It is not a great situation any way up.

    I didn’t write those articles that Wallace referred to. I am certainly not defending them and I’ve said over and over that he was asking a worthwhile question. I liked Neil’s article because it stared the ugliness straight in the face, but as a white female feminist (and in no way an expert on hip hop) I would’ve written something else again. I guess we just disagree about the cause and effect of pop songs on the oppression of women and also on what can and can’t be deduced about the intentions of an artist from the art s/he makes.

    (* not really, obvs: music critics don’t have souls. But there’s something about burying one’s sense of humanity and outrage under layers of insouciance that is not wholly comfortable.)

  79. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

    But I don’t think the intention behind the lyrics really matters if it spreads an evil message. It is not even presented as a joke- not that I’d find a joke like that funny, but it can’t even be explained that way. The thing that defeats the whole thing is that IF Odd Future’s lyrics provoked debate and inadvertently raised awareness of feminist causes by opposing them, then at least it could be said that it made a few people sit up and question and with luck make the choice to reject misogyny and refuse to accept it. The problem with the treatment of OF by journalists is really that they haven’t provoked any outrage apart from HERE thanks to Wallace sticking his neck out to raise an important point. It’s quiet compliance everywhere else, which further normalises misogyny in society. It is unfortunately as simple as I have stated. We don’t live in an equal society with equal rights and pay, even in the west. That is an illusion. If you were to read up on the root causes of domestic violence you would find that it comes from culture and society. The media in the western world provides a lot of our input. If we want to end domestic violence, we have to end sexism. I think the lives of the women affected by this is actually more important than some immature/evil youngster’s rights to get rich from hate. I am not talking about censorship- I am talking about how it’s time that people decided to be ashamed of themselves for buying into this stuff and celebrating bands who propagate such violence via their intensely women hating messaged music. The blame is not all to be laid at OF’s door, but the people who promote them are in fact promoting the normalisation of their ideas about women. I think that is wrong. I think everyone involved should be ashamed and embarrassed for taking part. I think OF simply highlight how much feminism has failed and the amount of people out there who are happy to turn a blind eye to the suffering of women as a result of their gender. I am ashamed to share a world with such people, it makes me intensely sad. I want to live in a world or an era where this attitude to women has long been forgotten. Where it’s not the feminists who have people rolling their eyes in impatience at them, but the odd last person who says or does something sexist is the one who gets eyes rolling. Only then will I feel that it is no longer an issue worth mentioning.

  80. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 9:16 am

    And what about all the people using the phrase ‘white middle class’ here. Isn’t that a bit racist? Why is that worth mentioning?

  81. Mark Donaldson June 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Can’t believe Collapse Board, of all sites, was suckered into joining this pointless conversation. One of those yawning lion pictures that Thackray throws around here would have been enough. Why waste good writing on the analysis of a subject that is so musically and thematically boring?

  82. Lucy Cage June 17, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Good writing is never a waste.

    See comments re Cold Chisel, a band I hope never to have to hear, but which I enjoyed reading about because someone who knew his stuff and could dig out the particular Cold Chiselness of Cold Chisel eloquently had taken the time to add to the discussion.

    See also Everett & Taylor Parkes’ piece on the Cranberries: a pointless waste of space/voice of a band, but a piece that makes me laugh still. Invective for the win.

    As for OF et al.: I find some of their music pretty extraordinary actually, but this discussion is as much about sexism in the music industry and the job of criticism in exposing it; about censorship and freedom of speech; about the relationship between cause and effect in art; and about whether the singer can ever really be disentangled from the song, as it is about a bunch of hiphop kids from LA out to shock the straights. And I don’t think *that* subject is the least bit boring. Maybe you do, in which case, fair enough, but why read a site that quite deliberately stirs all that shit up?

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