Around a decade ago, the collective known as ‘Odd Future’ first made waves on the scene due to their quirky and unique approach that blended music and fashion so authentically. Fronted by the well-known music and cultural icon Tyler the Creator, the group also includes a number of other notable names such as Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd, Hodgy Beats and Taco.
Odd Future first began garnering attention at the start of the decade, when the group dropped their ‘Radical’ mixtape that fell underneath the genre of ‘alternative’ hip-hop. A number of Odd Future members made their debut on the tape, and the mixtape was met with both support and criticism, largely in part to the mature subject matter and widespread vulgarity used by Odd Future artists. Despite the controversial lyricism, the group quickly gained a loyal fanbase and began touring, producing more music and eccentric videos to accompany them.
The success of Odd Future occurred so quickly that the group hardly had time to adjust to the newfound fame and popularity. The demand for both more music and live performances was overwhelming, and the group began touring both nationally and internationally while simultaneously creating ‘sub-groups’ within the collective. Due to the high number of Odd Future members and varying creative approaches, Odd Future was able to create different types of music to appeal to a widespread group of music aficionados. While their success in the music industry was undeniable, the group decided to expand its creative abilities to a new platform; television. Their comedy sketch ‘Loiter Squad’ appeared on the programming block Adult Swim between 2012 and 2014.
Along with a successful music career and television series, the group’s creativity expanded even further in a way that truly defined their quirkiness and eccentricity. The GOLFWANG clothing line quickly became a fan favourite, utilizing bright colours and patterns along with images and sketches designed by immediate members of the group. This clothing line quickly emerged at tour stops, pop-up shops and eventually even in established retail stores. The Odd Future crew didn’t stop there, however, and began the now annual Camp Flow Gnaw carnival and music festival in Los Angeles, an event that has grown in popularity and success with each passing year.
Despite the fact that each of these successes incorporates the Odd Future collective, a large factor in their growth can be attributed to the individual popularity of Tyler the Creator. While Tyler has played a large part in the growth of the collective, some members have strayed away, with some even officially announcing their departure. It’s hard to even imagine that mature, successful R&B artists such as Frank Ocean and Syd were even once members of the collective, especially considering some of the subject matter in Odd Future’s lyrics regarding sexuality. There have also been a number of reported rifts between members, which is somewhat expected when so many creatives are looking to go in different directions. While some artists like Tyler, Frank Ocean and Earl have become household names in their respective disciplines, other Odd Future members have since faded out of popularity since the group reached its peak a number of years prior.
Despite the different directions that the Odd Future collective has taken, each and every member has played an extremely influential role in pushing the musical and creative boundaries. Their unique, weird and controversial approach to creating music makes them a famous standout in the music industry that has paved the way for other collectives, and friends, to go beyond the status quo and take full advantage of the creativity possessed by each member. While the group may not be the tight-knit collective it once was, the Odd Future name and label will live on through each of its members, regardless of the directions they choose to take.
Words by James Bilyk.