New artists show oddness pervades current rap image
Itâs no secret that hip-hop is constantly evolving.
For every Rick Ross-type, the self-proclaimed ghetto MC still boasting about drugs, girls and money over triumphant beats, thereâs a Kid Cudi, the self-loathing rapper-singer clad in skinny jeans.
Though the Cudi-esque rappers were new and different at one point in recent history, their style has now become an increasingly popular trend.
Such is the inevitable end of every subculture Â movement: If everyoneâs claiming to be a Martian, as Lil Wayne, Cudi and numerous others have on various tracks, nobodyâs really different after all.
Right in our Californian backyard, however, a new breed of hip-hop is brewing. Itâs not exactly definable.
In a word, itâs odd.
Fittingly, the group that is so bravely defying the hip-hop norms is Los Angelesâ own Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, a group of 11 musicians, artists and skaters slowly gaining popularity in the music world.
My first introduction to this group was the grotesque video for member Earl Sweatshirtâs track âEarl,â in which Odd Future members drink a gross blended drink and then puke from it, skate and bleed from their nipples, among other disgusting things.
Next, I followed group figurehead Tyler, The Creator on Twitter after seeing his Kanye West-surpassing tweets, such as âThank You So Much Sir For Letting Me Dookie On Myself In Peace,â âI Wonder What Being Table Feels Like,â âSometimes, I wonder what Shopping Feels Likeâ and âI Am Pooty Tangs Hair Do.â And thatâs only an example of one memberâs strangeness.
Odd Future has been called âthe new Wu-tangâ because the group is composed of 11 young, collaborative friends, each with different personalities to bring to Tyler The Creatorâs impressive beats.
Theyâre young (Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt less than 20 years old) and savvy, releasing albums for free on their Tumblr page and using the word âswagâ to describe everything that they like.
Tyler, The Creatorâs own mixtape, Bastard (released last year) begins with a rant that insults nearly everything that mainstream and underground hip-hop stand for.
It then goes straight into a piano-based song with depressing lyrics. Notably, the rapper often talks about his relationship with his father, who abandoned him when he was younger.
Much of Bastard and other Odd Future tracks deal with taboo subjects such as rape, murder and homosexual insults.
As with most rappers that talk about anything, itâs hard to tell when these guys really mean what theyâre saying.
Their lyrics beg the âDie Antwoordâ question: Are these guys for real? Or are they just genius enough artists, good enough at acting to fool the world into believing their characters? And does that even matter?
Eminem probably never did half the things he talked about in his records as Slim Shady, yet his albums catapulted him to superstardom.
The point is not whether or not Odd Futureâs stories are real, but that people increasingly love listening to them.
But Odd Future is not the only propagator of this trend.
Even weirder is Lil B, a former member of Pack (you may remember their popular âVansâ song).
His solo work is, again, odd. His simple beats and hooks make him sound like a strange Soulja Boy, but heâs much more than that.
For instance, one of his songs is called âMiley Cyrus,â and the chorus is, Iâm Miley Cyrus / Driving with no license repeated over and over.
He also has similar songs claiming to be Paris Hilton, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Gibson and Bill Clinton.
Like Odd Future, he loves the word âswag,â and he yells it on almost every song. Bay Area legend Too $hort has said, âI love Lil B … but I have no idea how to define what Lil B does.â
Lil B himself would describe what he does as âbased music,â a genre he invented to describe his strange, stream-of-consciousness flows.
But his songs vary so much and that description is so ambiguous that it doesnât really explain anything.
Whatever heâs doing is working, as heâs selling out shows and catching headlines for his unusual antics.
Artists such as Odd Future and Lil B might not be revolutionary musicians or even particularly talented, but at least theyâre pushing the evolution of hip-hop and attempting to do something different â and thatâs swag.
Will Hagle is a sophomore majoring in narrative studies. His column, Â âFeedback,â runs Wednesdays.