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September 13, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Editor’s note: Due to heavy use of profanity, quotes by Hodgy Beats have been edited.
Odd Future wants to have fun. The Los Angeles hip-hop collective’s antics have proven as much, from lighting palm trees on fire to regularly stage diving at their notoriously wild concerts.
Where: The Blue Note
When: Sept. 18
“We’re just kids,” says Hodgy Beats, Odd Future rapper and producer. “We’re just performing our shows and clowning on each other. I mean, the world is serious, but with each other, we’re not.”
The group’s idea of fun often creates controversy, and its critics are vocal. A group protested Odd Future’s set at the Pitchfork Music Festival last year, and Sara Quin, of Tegan and Sara, wrote an open letter to group leader Tyler, the Creator in May 2011 decrying his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics.
But Odd Future does not seem bothered by the negative press. “We look at it as in, you’re talking about it,” Hodgy says. “That’s what we want you to think. Hate it or love it, so keep talking. You’re helping us out.”
Odd Future’s members have denied being homophobic or misogynistic, despite their graphic lyrical images. Kelly Betz, founder of the local rap battling organization No Coast Battles, sees the group largely as hip-hop satirists and refers to their more controversial side as “childish exuberance.”
“They’re black; they have multiple queer members; they have a bisexual male and an openly gay female,” Betz says. “And so they are the people they’re talking about.”
Still, that argument doesn’t please everyone. Nicole Silvestri, an MU senior and the president of the Feminist Student Union, takes offense at lyrics that casually refer to raping women, in jest or not. “It’s definitely good to make jokes, but when you come from a place of power, when a man jokes about that sort of thing, he’s joking about something he can’t possibly experience,” Silvestri says.
Odd Future has won over enough people to tour worldwide and set critics abuzz about its work. Anyone put off by the antics or the lyrics just doesn’t get it, Hodgy says.
“But honestly, there’s really nothing to get,” he says. “The point is just to enjoy the music and the artwork and the videos that come out. It’s just for the mind’s enjoyment. It’s like taking a candy. You eat it, you like it, you get another piece. If you don’t—leave it there, throw it away.”
Critics and fans have their own reasons for eating up Odd Future’s music.
“It’s more rough and raw (than other hip-hop),” Betz says. “It’s taking hip-hop back to where it was when it came out. They’re ignoring where rap is right now, and they’re taking it where they want to go.”
Betz sees the group’s style as influential to newer artists. He says Odd Future has shown how to “just loosen up and have fun with your rhymes, and that it’s not all about technicality, and it’s not all about being played on the radio.”
Odd Future’s presence in song is similar to its presence in concert: loose, spontaneous and often vividly raunchy.
Its jocular style and flippant disregard for radio-friendly choruses have led critics to prophesy the group as the future of hip-hop, even while its profanity continues to offend.
“(It’s) a shock for people,” Hodgy says. “People aren’t used to hearing it. ... So I understand why people get all crazy, but we are the future of whatever it is. Odd Future.”