Showing posts with label odd future. Show all posts
Showing posts with label odd future. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2015

video review: 'cherry bomb' by tyler, the creator

I expect this video to get a fair amount of debate, but eh, that's what happens when positions get complicated. Hell, I expect the same when I cover Kanye later this year.

Next up, I finally want to talk about Laura Marling, but first I might have a surprise coming...

album review: 'cherry bomb' by tyler, the creator

So maybe Odd Future does have a plan after all.

It certainly seems like something is up. When I reviewed Earl Sweatshirt's I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, I speculated that Odd Future's fading buzz made the release of Earl's record feel like a bit of an anomaly, especially considering the lack of major Odd Future players on it. Well, maybe I should have known better because it wasn't a few weeks later when Odd Future 'leader' Tyler The Creator announced his own record to be released in a week's time.

Which for me was a good thing, because paradoxically while Tyler The Creator might be the leader of the Odd Future collective, he's probably one of the members of the group that I have the hardest time getting a firm handle on. His acrid contempt for critics who brand him as horrorcore given his complete lack of filter and graphic subject material does have merit, mostly because he's the most interesting when you dig deeper into the outsider mentality that exists half in hyperbole and half in unfiltered, bold-faced honesty. He's not rapping to shock, mostly because his audience won't find him shocking but relatable. Parallels have also been made in terms of subject matter to Ariel Pink, owning the image of the outsider even as the mainstream shows interest for all of the wrong reasons, at least in his view - hypocritical considering so much of his buzz has circled around his controversy, but at least he's somewhat aware of that.

And yet I'm not exactly a fan of Tyler The Creator, and it shouldn't be all that surprising why. As I've said in the past, pure unrelenting nihilism, even when shoved through the lens of confused adolescence, frequently wears out its welcome if it doesn't have a larger point behind it, and Tyler's material can struggle here. The warped therapy session of Goblin worked for what it was - entirely unsurprising from a teenage kid forced to grow up too fast and trying to burn through his issues, even if it was about four songs too long - and the 'prequel' of Wolf fleshed out a hall of twisted mirrors and alter egos that were well-developed against good production but did seem to deflect even more from who Tyler really is - and it was also about four songs too long. Incidentally, the whole convoluted 'narrative' behind Tyler's work is interesting conceptually, but I don't put a lot of stock in the execution - it's well-framed and I can overlook the continuity errors lyrically, but I'm often left feeling it's less than the sum of its parts and doesn't hit me as hard as individual moments.

In any case, when Tyler announced his new record Cherry Bomb with no guest appearances from Odd Future members, instead featuring Pharrell, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, and also a radical departure in sound, I was curious to say the least. Earl Sweatshirt had managed to keep up an impressive level of quality with his comeback, and divorced from the twisted continuity of Tyler's earlier albums, maybe Cherry Bomb could stand up well in its own world, right?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

video review: 'i don't like shit, i don't go outside' by earl sweatshirt

Man, this might have been short, but it hit me surprisingly hard. Seriously, check this out, damn good record.

Next up, I'm going to cover an album I've been looking forward to since the beginning of this year. No, not that one. Or that one either. Want to know which? Stay tuned!

album review: 'i don't like shit, i don't go outside' by earl sweatshirt

So time for a serious question: does Odd Future have any buzz anymore?

I don't mean that to be a slight against the rap collective, I really don't, a group that leapt out of the underground with a fully formed style and sound that won them a fair bit of critical acclaim and a strong cult following. And for a couple of years at the beginning of the decade, it seemed like the group was going to ride that wave of hype to album after album of success - not especially in the mainstream, given their subject matter and style, but there would be success.

But across 2014, Odd Future seemed to drop off the face of the earth. Yeah, there were a few scattered mixtapes but none of their big names dropped full-length records, and outside of some touring controversy that got some of their members banned from a New Zealand tour, Odd Future was pretty quiet. Now if you were to go back twenty years, there'd be no issue with this - albums and mixtapes take time to make if you're doing them right, and if Odd Future were secretly cooking things up, it'd be good to see a quality product. But we're also talking about the rapidly shifting landscape of hip-hop, where rap collectives live and die by their buzz, and with the internet that timeline has only gotten faster. And this means the unfortunate question isn't so much when the new Odd Future project would drop, but who outside their diehard fanbase would care if it did?

But out of nowhere, it looks as though we do have a new record dropping, and from the last person I'd expect: Earl Sweatshirt, the slightly off-kilter oddball of the group that initially built his reputation off of his darkly hyperbolic subject matter before destroying it with his surprisingly personal and introspective debut Doris. Now when I reviewed that debut way back in 2013, back before I even had a decent camera, and while I definitely liked it, it wasn't a record I saw myself going back to often - it was slow, dark, dreary, with Earl Sweatshirt's cadence and somber beats making it a heavy listen. Having gone back through it recently, though, I can definitely say I appreciate how meticulous and well-structured it is, balancing social commentary with a personal story well-told. In other words, of the rappers in Odd Future, I got the impression there was the most depth and layers behind Earl Sweatshirt. I was just surprised he would be first to the punch for a resurgence and not Tyler The Creator, and with a surprise album with few features and nothing from Odd Future outside of production, it looked to be an interesting listen. So what did we get?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

album review: 'doris' by earl sweatshirt

I have an odd relationship with Odd Future.

Keep in mind it's not like I dislike any of the associated acts, because for the most part, from what I've seen of Tyler The Creator and Frank Ocean, I've liked what I've seen. Hell, I was almost on the cusp of reviewing channel ORANGE last year, arguably one of the best albums to come out in 2012. But I didn't review channel ORANGE and I probably never will, mostly because it represents a bit of a strange problem I have when approaching Odd Future-associated acts: I have no idea how on earth I'm supposed to feel about them. 

Let me try to explain this. For starters, as good as Tyler The Creator can be, I'm not quite sure whether I should buy into the exaggerated elements of his persona or treat them almost as a parody. There's something strange about the way he delivers his lines that's very much unlike Hopsin or Eminem, who are straightforward and direct in their assaults - Tyler The Creator just seems oddly comfortable in the way he goes to shock, and once you get your brain on the same wavelength, he lacks the same ability to surprise. It's even not that I don't doubt that said things he's saying are true, either, but I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react to them, which adds that extra second where I pause to think about that, which kind of stifles my enjoyment of his material. I definitely appreciate the rawer, rougher production on his beats, but too often his flow does nothing to engage me and his content tends to feel strangely distant. 

Frank Ocean also tends to feel distant and isolated (except on heart-wrenching songs like 'Bad Religion'), but that was half of the point with channel ORANGE, most of which I remember listening to in a spaced-out haze of heat exhaustion wandering through the woods outside my house. I'd argue that on the sensory overload alone, channel ORANGE is an incredible success - which really does a disservice to the lyrics, which contain some of the most incredibly descriptive, cripplingly honest poetry put on record in a long time. Combined with the fact that channel ORANGE had plenty to say about the state of modern youth, sexuality, faith, and love, and I'm not surprised at all that people fell in love with the album.

And yet... for some reason, it never truly landed with me beyond a few songs. It's not an album I return to again and again, and for the life of me, I don't really understand why. I want to love it, but yet I feel distant from it, unable to truly connect. Part of it might be that so much of channel ORANGE feels alternatively very personal and then very disconnected from everyone, a bit of a passive observer in his own life. And strangely, I feel the same thing with Tyler The Creator as well, even despite he and Frank Ocean's wildly different deliveries and choices of subject matter. And while it might make for impeccable and effective artistic framing, it also can make for a bit of an odd listening experience that might have kept me away for this past year. 

So will the same be true of Earl Sweatshirt, the oft-absent member of Odd Future who has finally released his debut studio album Doris? Will this be the Odd Future member I finally connect with, or the first I must unfortunately consign to the trash?