View :: What Does the (Odd) Future Hold?

June 14th 2011


With lights out at Vivid Sydney this week, the acts of the music side of the festival have packed up and gone on their way. The huge success of young bands like Manchester’s interview-avoiding Wu Lyf and Los Angeles’ journalist-baiting rap collective OFWKTA (Odd Future for short) seems likely to ensure that we’ll be seeing them both again sooner rather than later. But with each act evolving at such a rapid rate the question is, what will they look like next time?

On one hand, Odd Future may prove the haters wrong and turn out to be more than just one-trick shock-art ponies. If they want to, an extraordinary record deal with Sony could see crew members use their fifteen minutes as a launching pad towards a sustained contribution to contemporary hip-hop. Granted this might stand against their leftfield roots- but then again Odd Future paint themselves as a beast with no allegiances. In this regard, the Sony deal- with its alleged clause of total control by crew members- puts the hip-hop world at the groups’ fingertips.

In the short-run, brace yourself for the reissue of group members’ own Internet recordings. As with Tyler the Creator and his Goblin album this could see the start of a dozen controversial new careers. Also intriguing is the possibility that if members choose to tone down their lyrical content, their precocious abilities could see Odd Future Records become a major player in the commercial hip-hop world- a more frightening alternative to autotune and big cars. Certainly, crewmember and Def Jam-outcast Frank Ocean seems on that path already.

On the other hand, Odd Future’s rise could come to a crashing halt. In six months they’ve crossed swords with everything in their way and while this has so far added to the hype, there can surely be only so many online feuds before interest starts to wane. While sheer outrageousness and shock value has bought them much attention, there is every chance that once the jury is out listeners might actually be disgusted. Then we’ll see if the crowds stick around. If they don’t, then Odd Future will have come, offended, and not actually won over anyone. In that case, by the time they release new material the horse will have bolted.

Blocky melodists Wu Lyf are on a similar arc, but have treated their unexpected rise in an almost polar-opposite fashion. Like the Los Angeles rappers, the thrill of Wu Lyf’s Vivid shows was a sense of genuine curiosity in the crowd. Unlike their bill-mates, Wu Lyfs’ recent surge in popularity has been based on an avoidance of the spotlight, rather than a fiery embrace. Furthermore, they put on a terrific performance- more likely to win potential fans over than reject them, or as Odd Future did, literally slap them in the face. Their biggest challenge though must be the possibility of having overplayed their hand.

As the lads from Manchester start granting interviews and signing distribution deals the mystique that propelled them to the Sydney Opera House will have faded. Like Odd Future it will then be up to their musical output to continue their march.

As for touring, my bet is that the rap collective will continue to exist as a kind of brand – similar to other successful hip-hop crews (think Wu Tang). Given the current state of things, the name looks set to grow into a trademark- an umbrella under which members release and tour their own output. Like the Clan, Odd Future may become defined as much by their members


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