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This Is Happening: An Odd Future for Music

Written by Anthony Hess on 25th January, 2012

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For those of you who haven’t quite picked up on the subtlety of this blog title, this post is inspired by the wildly outlandish, energetic, charismatic, highly intellectual, yet profane and generally offensive, hip-hop collective, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All / OFWGKTA / Odd Future.

Having just seen them take over in the Enmore Theatre as part of their Big Day Out Sydney sideshow, it needs to be said that this show was like no other. With seven members on stage at anytime, they danced and thrashed about, never stealing the spotlight from one another but working as a solid unit while standing out as individuals.

With a full hour and a half set, rife with stage diving, goose-stepping and the occasional stage invasion which was met with a hostile return (to be fair, the band warned the crowd, they had no qualms “fucking people’s shit up”), it was a set that you wouldn’t want to miss…unless of course you are easily offended. Then I suggest you steer clear of anything Odd Future related.

But by the end of it, what really stood out to me was the way the group operated, not just on the stage but off. As a hip-hop collective, they are able to release music as a group and as individual artists under their own label, Odd Future Records, which they started last year. The highly prolific and often controversial “front man”/Twitter-bug, Tyler the Creator, has also just signed to XL Recordings who release his music through licensing from the group themselves.

Between nine regular artists, there have been 25 releases from the band, including LP’s, EP’s, digital albums and mix tapes, over a period of five years.  They have toured extensively and because of the large collaborative effect, there are groups within the group, featuring specific members rather than individuals or the whole group.  As a result, there is endless potential of what can be released from this group and how it can be released. Every show is a promotion of 25 albums, and at the show, every single song got the crowd screaming as if that was the ONE song they came to hear, but it wasn’t MGMT, so this didn’t just happen with the encore.

Odd Future have taken the basic idea of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions and turned it into a viable, lucrative and dominating steam train in the music industry. The cult following behind Odd Future has resulted in members of the band being arrested for over excited behaviour at shows, riots during and/or following a performance as well as a pop up shop being set up on Oxford Street for five days, selling Odd Future products exclusively.

Maybe it is their music, maybe it is their live show, maybe it is their “fuck the world” attitude that is unavoidably in your face, or maybe it is all of these things but if you look closely, you might just be looking the future model of the music industry.

Chances are, this is a one off thing, which is what makes Odd Future so special but there is a lot to be said for what they’ve done, what they are doing and what they are sure to do.

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