Has Odd Future Lived Up To The Hype? (Editorial)

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[dropcap]O[/dropcap]dd Future took the internet by storm in late 2009-early 2010 after a plethora of releases from nearly every member of group such as Tyler, The Creator’s Bastard and Earl Sweatshirt’s EARL. They quickly developed a cult following & comparisons to groups such as Wu-Tang & that began a huge bidding war for the collective. After obtainging all that, the Odd Future collective released a ton of new projects, inked a deal with RED Distribution & Sony Music Entertainment to create Odd Future Records, & even obtained their own TV show ‘Loiter Squad’ on Cartoon Network’s late night programming block Adult Swim. Do not get me wrong, they have released some awesome music, but have they really lived up to the hype that was built up for them? Are their members as good as some of the Odd Future stans make it out to be?

When Odd Future first hit the internet scene in late 2009 & early 2010, the big names that people were really checking for were Tyler, The Creator, Hodgy Beats & his material with Left Brain as MellowHype, & Earl Sweatshirt. Drug references along with themes of murder, rape, and sexual lyrics in these projects released by these members of Odd Future captivated the hipster/misfit teenage/’Tumblr’ crowd and continued to develop a bigger and bigger fan-base throughout the year.

In August 2010, Domo Genesis released his conversational debut project Rolling Papers. Domo & the rest of Odd Future tried making a big deal & started to diss Wiz Khalifa for naming his debut album via Atlanatic Records Rolling Papers a few weeks after Domo announced his project. That whole situation ended up ending well for Odd Future, as they ended up getting a lot of attention for it, and not to mention Domo & Wiz Khalifa ended up recording & releasing a song together. Back to Domo’s Rolling Papers project, the project took a huge focus into the weed rap crowd & it was pretty successful. By the end of 2010, the group had gathered quite of catalog of music, consisting of two compilation mixtapes of the whole crew, two mixtapes from production duo The Jet Age Of Tomorrow  as well as  two from the the duo MellowHype, & solo releases from Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Mike G, and Domo Genesis, with many of these projects being considered as instant classics & obtaining fantastic ratings from some of the most respected music media outlets. Unfortunately, this is where I feel Odd Future failed to capitalize on their hype & failed to take the collective to the new level.

The exact date is not available to the general public, but towards the end of 2010, Earl’s mother sent Earl Sweatshirt off to Samoa to attend Coral Reef Academy, a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys. If you want to catch up on this situation, if you somehow missed it, you can do so here. From there, we did not hear any music from Earl Sweatshirt until his surprise verse on Oldie, the outro of Odd Future‘s third compilation album that was a retail release under their Odd Future Records label.

The standout release from Odd Future in 2011 was definitely the introduction to Frank Ocean, nostalgia, ULTRA. When this was first released via Frank Ocean‘s Tumblr, people had a hard time accepting the fact that Frank Ocean was actually a member of Odd Future, because this is well beyond what was released in the past from the collectives members. This mixtape was explosion point in Frank Ocean‘s career, boasting him from a songwriter signed to Def Jam Records into a solo artist under Def Jam Records. Just over a year after nostalgia, ULTRA was released, Frank Ocean released his debut retail album channel, ORANGE to very applauding reviews. The album has since gone gold, selling over a half a million copies to date, & is one of the best releases from an Odd Future artist despite the album not being dropped under Odd Future Records.

From that release, 2011 was a pretty disappointing year to me for Odd Future. Tyler, The Creator released his debut retail album GOBLIN via XL Records and the project featured standout track ‘Yonkers’, but beyond that the album stretched on way too long and was a bit too preachy. MellowHype re-released their mixtape Blackendwhite via Fat Possum Records. The release was extremely disappointing because many of the standouts from the mixtape version were left off the re-release, including the Earl Sweatshirt featured song ‘Chordorony’. Odd Future was not able to get clearance for Earl Sweatshirt‘s vocals because of the whole Samoa situation, so that was extremely disappointing to find out. Domo Genesis released a mixtape over old instrumentals called Under The Influence. Cool mixtape on the surface but I mean beyond huge Odd Future stans, who is still bumping that on the regular? The rest of the year consisted of Odd Future releasing a compilation of records that were featured on past projects with no new records onto iTunes for casual fans, Mike G releasing an EP that was not even promoted by Odd Future, and the only other standout of the year beyond Frank Ocean‘s project, The Internet‘s (Syd The Kyd & Matt Martians) debut album Purple Naked Ladies. Purple Naked Ladies was the first official release under Odd Future Records official label under SONY/RED & to this day is still arguably one of my top three favorite release from an Odd Future artist/duo that was officially released under Odd Future Records.  For standout releases of 2011, Odd Future really only had two, coming from members which either nobody even knew about or had very little of before the calender hit 2011, Frank Ocean & The Internet.

2012 came around, and there was still no signs of Earl coming anytime soon, but releases continued to come out. The Internet released a four song EP of songs that did not make the cut of their debut album Purple Naked Ladies and Hodgy Beats released a lackluster EP titled UNTITLED. In March of 2012, Odd Future released their third official compilation project & the first of them to be released via Odd Future Records for retail sale, The OF Tape Vol. 2. The project definitely had some standouts (Oldie, P, White, Hcaped, Sam (Is Dead)), but it still lacked an overall focus of creating something that has the ‘classic’ feel to it with many of the immature tracks still making the cut. This project did mark the return of Earl Sweatshirt, with him appearing on the track ‘Oldie’.

The rest of the year gave us Frank Ocean‘s critically acclaimed channel, ORANGE album, though it was not released via Odd Future Records, a vastly improved new project from Domo Genesis & legendary producer The Alchemist titled No IdolsOver two years after releasing their hype gaining projects YelloWhite & Blackendwhite, MellowHype dropped their long awaited solo debut album, NUMBERS, via Odd Future Records. That album was BEYOND forgettable, both lyrically from Hodgy Beats & production wise from Left Brain.

After the release of NUMBERS in October of 2012, we did not get a new project from Odd Future until April 2013 this year when Tyler, The Creator released his third solo album, second for retail release, WOLF. WOLF is definitely the best project released via Odd Future Records & arguably the best one out of all the artists in the Odd Future collective, along with Frank Ocean‘s work and Purple Naked Ladies. WOLF is the quality of music that many people, including myself, was expecting out of Odd Future once they blew up and it took all the way up to this year to get that. Along with WOLF, Hodgy Beats released his second UNTITLED EPaffiliates The Jet Age Of Tomorrow released their third project & first one since 2010 in The Jellyfish Mentality, and a few days ago, Earl Sweatshirt finally released his second project, with that being his debut studio album DORIS. After giving the album a few spins, that album as well did not live up the hype and did not give out the expected output that myself and plenty of Odd Future fans expected. Earl Sweatshirt warned us, but the project lacks focus & beyond a few standouts (Burgundy, Hive, 20 Wave Caps), his monotonous flow & lack of emotion gives DORIS a pretty tough front to back listen for the album.

Throughout these nearly 1,400 words (to this point), you could get easily tell what my opinion is. I really do not believe Odd Future has lived up to the hype they built up for themselves late in 2009 and early in 2010. They have definitely lived up to the image that they built for themselves (or the image that was potrayed for them), but musically, I do not think they have come close to what people expected out of them. MellowHype released one project since 2010 that was extremely lackluster, Mike G hasn’t put out a real album or mixtape since 2009, Domo Genesis still has not topped Rolling Papers, and Earl Sweatshirt released only one album since his EARL EP in 2010. The best music has came from artists that came out with projects after the initial blowing and you can say that not one artist has topped any of the initial 2009/2010 releases beyond Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean (who is not an officially a Odd Future artist), & The Internet.

Does this mean that Odd Future can’t possibly live up to the hype created for themselves? No, but as of August 2013, I do not believe that they have lived up to the hype.

I know that some people (actually, possibly A LOT) will disagree with my insight on Odd Future‘s discography/track-record to this point, so I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.