If you haven't heard of OFWGKTA, don't sweat it. You're about to when they wreak havoc on the VMA's next Sunday, as Tyler the Creator's "Yonkers" video is (very well deservingly) nominated for video of the year. Odd Future is a collective of very young rappers and producers (we are talking 17-21 years of age) similar in numbers to the Wu Tang Clan, but that's where the similarities stop.
These guys have absolutely filthy lyrics. Like, as in Eminem getting a PG-13 rating in comparison. They lyrics are abrasive, violent, misogynisitic, anti-christian, homophobic, and racist. (for example- "raped a pregnant bitch and told my friends I had a threesome") Their production and sound is very challenging and peculiar for their age- think of The Neptunes and Madlib joining forces on a trip to hell and back. They blew up last year in the music blogging world after group leader Tyler the Creator released his debut "Bastard", pretty much becoming the first and prime example of a group virtually unknown to the general public, yet superstars on music blogs and websites.
Their fanbase right now consists of an odd mixture of late teens/early twenties mainstream hip hop listeners and indie hipsters/bloggers. I believe that the former got hooked on the novelty aspect of the band- teens their age being naughtier than any artist of relevance has ever been? The latter is because of the ironic artistic merit from their innovative beats and captivating wordplay.
As they are pretty much the most blatantly offensive band making waves today, it took me awhile to form an opinion on their lyrical content. I've always been a bit hesitant about rappers who use the word "faggot" a lot, (except perennial fave Ghostface Killah) but I think to myself- they are ripping on everyone and not just the gays. If I'm offended by their use of the word, I should be even more offended at their attitude towards women. For me, as long as the music is there and some kind of artistic vision can be seen, I frankly don't care about the lyrical content. These guys never could have existed in any other musical time period- imagine a major label taking these guys under their wing and trying to market them.
An entire new generation now has instant access to all of the music in the world. Tyler the Creator cites some of his main influences as Portishead and Stereolab. When in any other time period would an inner city teenager from a broken home have access to 2 of the most influential electronic acts of the past 20 years?
I don't think Odd Future will ever become truly mainstream or a household name. (besides being demonized from the conservative community as with Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, etc) Besides the potential R&B superstar member Frank Ocean, their sound is too inaccessible for mainstream ears. I was pleaseantly suprised upon my first exposure to Odd Future, baffled that normal 20 year olds would warm to the production. It took a good while for Tyler's new album (and my first true exposure to them) "Goblin" to sink in. But from the sheer music alone- the group is collectively producing challenging, provocative, and refreshingly, genuinely NEW music.
It can be ENDLESSLY debated that popular music has reached its cultural and artistic zentith already- and I constantly look for ways to disprove that. Odd Future, along with The Weeknd, are two of the very few artists producing truly new music that would have been impossible to exist at times other than 2011.