OFT x CCS Present: The History of Odd Future | A Beginners Guide to OFWGKTA

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, the hype surrounding the Los Angeles-based hip hop collective Odd Future (also known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All and OFWGKTA) is unavoidable. In only one year they have created their own independent music label known as Odd Future Records, have been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, and have even gained their own 15-minute slot on Adult Swim for their show Loiter Squad (Which is now in the process of being filmed for a second season). Odd Future has indubitably made their mark on pop-culture and is a prime example of the ongoing “do it yourself” movement.

…but who exactly are they? Odd Future is simply a group of skaters, artists, photographers and friends living in Los Angeles; some of them just happen to have a gift for creating music. Led by rapper and producer Tyler, The Creator, the rest of the music group includes Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, Earl Sweatshirt, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Jasper Dolphin, Taco Bennett, Syd The Kyd, Matt Martians, and Hal Williams. One interesting fact about Odd Future is that within the group itself, there are also sub-groups. Left Brain and Hodgy create Mellowhype, Earl and Tyler are EarlWolf, Matt and Hal are The Jet Age of Tomorrow, and Syd and Matt make up The Internet. Although we do know some bits and pieces, the complete story of how most of them met still remains a mystery. Some of them met throughout their high school years, others met through online forums and MySpace, but ultimately, they all came together to record in Syd The Kyd’s home studio known as ‘The Trap’ in which BastardGoblinAli,BlackenedwhiteEARL, and Rolling Papers were all recorded.

Mostly during the Summer they were there every day spending the night. There were points where Hodgy and Left Brain lived in the studio for weeks at a time ‘cause they didn’t have a place to stay. Matt had lived in the studio at one point. The trap was a special place to a lot of us. It was a home for all of us. – Syd The Kyd

It’s evident that the bond between Odd Future members strengthened to the point where they became a family. Their similar backgrounds and drive to become great played a significant role in their rise to fame. Let’s take a moment to look back at how it all started and recap the most important events regarding Odd Future in the past years.

Through the release of their very first mixtapes such as Tyler’s Bastard, Earl Sweatshirt’s Earl, and Domo’s Rolling Papers, Odd Future gained local buzz. Constantly putting out new content, videos were made for the songs BastardFrenchVCR, and Earl.Soon after the release of Earl, Earl Sweatshirt was abruptly sent to boarding school in Samoa for reasons that at that time remained unknown. With no information on his whereabouts or the date of his return, fans were left thirsty for more.

Fast-forward to February 2011; arguably the most important month in Odd Future’s career. On February 10th, Tyler, The Creator released a music video for Yonkers, the lead single of his debut album Goblin. After Yonkers made its way on the Internet, everything skyrocketed. Pitchfork called it “the best thing any OF affiliate has produced to date,” Rolling Stone named it “the 23rdbest single of 2011,” and various others praised the song despite the graphic content of the song/video. Equally as important, Odd Future made their television debut through Late Night with Jimmy Fallon later that month. Alongside Hodgy Beats and backed by the show’s home band The Roots, Tyler performed the song Sandwitches. Their eerie and energetic performance appealed to many people watching, and undoubtedly gained them a substantial amount of new fans.

From there, the fame of the “Wolf Gang” has been on a steady rise. Odd Future created their own independent label by the name of Odd Future Records and was attached with the signature “OF” donut logo drawn by a young Tyler years before Odd Future even gained followers. R&B singer/songwriter Frank Ocean was featured on two songs from Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s joint albumWatch The Throne, and many “bigger” artists have addressed the Odd Future spotlight. Mos Def, Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T, Method Man, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Wayne are only a few examples of artists that have shown support for the group to this day.

Adding to their success, Tyler, The Creator later won the award for Best New Artist at the MTV Music Awards in August 2011, which again, created a new batch of Odd Future fans. The success was so big, in fact, that it allowed them to open their own pop-up shop on Fairfax; the same street they used to hang out on when they were younger. The OF pop-up shop borrowed the sleek and simple design from the stores adjacent to it, and sells all types of Odd Future merchandise including socks, skate decks, shirts, Frank Ocean inspired air fresheners and “other cool shit.” What was intended to be a temporary store that would only be open for a couple months still stands to this day.

As 2011 came to an end, fans were caught off guard when a new image was posted onto the OddFuture Tumblr. “Here at Odd Future we have Mellowhype, we have EarlWolf, and now, The Internet.” Sunday of that same week, The Internet’s first single released titled Love Song -1. The Internet was unlike anything an OF fan was used to hearing, with smooth electronic beats and an R&B/Soul influence that Syd later went on to describe as “Stevie Wonder on acid.” The Internet’s debut album known as Purple Naked Ladies released later in December, and was marked as the very first official release under Odd Future Records.

…and then the rumors began. They spread like a wildfire. Earl Sweatshirt was back from Samoa and was now in Los Angeles. Tyler and a few Odd Future members had “trolled” fans before on Twitter claiming he was back, so there was no reason to believe it was true this time. However, a mysterious Twitter account by the name of @earlxsweat tweeted a YouTube link containing a video of Earl asking for 50k followers in exchange of a new song. Approximately 2 ½ hours later, Earl met his goal and sure enough, he posted a link to a new track titled “Home.” After 2 years, the Earl Sweatshirt everyone wanted was finally back, and although very little information was given at the time about Earl’s absence, things were later cleared up through a lengthy article published on the New York Times.

 In Samoa he was taking courses and speaking with therapists. He swam with whales and earned a scuba diving license, watched every episode of “The Mentalist” on DVD, put his classmates onto Lil B, began learning how to play piano. He read Manning Marable’s Malcolm X biography and Richard Fariña’s counterculture fiction. He wrote rhymes. Most of his verse on “Oldie,” his one contribution to “The OF Tape Vol. 2” (Odd Future), released in March, was written while he was in Samoa, before he knew if he’d ever have a song to put it on. – NY Times

Through all this commotion, the Odd Future group album “The OF Tape Vol. 2” released on March 20th 2012, and to many people’s surprise, Earl Sweatshirt was featured on the final song of the album, Oldie, a nine verse posse track in which Earl proved that his wordplay and lyricism were still on point.

Earl wasn’t the only one in the lime light though. Promos and commercials were already airing on Adult Swim from the new Odd Future show Loiter Squad. Starring Tyler, The Creator, Jasper Dolphin, Taco Bennett, and Lionel Boyce (L-Boy), Loiter Squad premiered on March 25 featuring all types of antics and skits from the crew. The 15-minute series was ranked #1 in it’s time period since it aired, and as a result, the second season of Loiter Squad is now in the works.

It’s apparent that Odd Future has features that cater to all types of personalities and music tastes; rap, r&b, soul, instrumentals, and on May 30th, punk rock was added to that list. After L-Boy gave a very classy public announcement, it was revealed that the Sacramento punk rock band Trash Talk was signed to Odd Future Records.

So them muthafu***** ova at Odd Future records done signed a fu***** group of crackas and ni**** in a hardcore punk band called Trash Talk. I mean it makes sense since Odd Future fans is them white ni**** anyway. Trash Talk is supposed to be releasing they album called “119? or some sh** thru they Trash Talk Collective Label in the fall.. don’t ask me what the f*** that means cuz I don’t fu***** kno. I asked Tyler’s trick ass what he thought about that sh** and I really didn’t give a f*** so I’m not gone put that sh** on here. Them Trash Talk ni**** is currently over in Europe with them musty muthaf****** – L-Boy

A bit of a surprise for many, but the chemistry between OF and Trash Talk always seemed natural. Even during Odd Future’s Paid Dues performance in which Trash Talk came on stage to perform a punk rock rendition of the song Radicals, both groups knew how to keep the crowd hyped. When paired with Odd Future, the mayhem begins and Trash Wang takes over.

It’s been two years since Odd Future began their journey to stardom, and since then, their perseverance and hard work haven’t shown signs of decline. Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange released only last month, receiving exceptional reviews by music blogs and critics. Earlier this month, Domo Genesis stepped out of his comfort zone and released a joint album fully produced by The Alchemist by the name of No Idols. Also in August, the silent but hard-working Hal Williams released his first full length album titled Pyramid; complete with features from fellow Odd Future members over spacey abstract instrumentals.

From creating music in their own rooms to performing in sold out venues worldwide, Odd Future has come a long way and continues to challenge the norm of the music industry. Many are quick to judge, but beyond the raunchy lyrics, the upside-down crosses, and the number “666” the group is notorious for, their way of life is simple. Do whatever it is you enjoy doing, have as much fun as you can along the way, and encourage others to do the same.

I’m not saying to go out and do some stupid shit, commit crimes. What I’m trying to tell you is, do what the fuck you want. Stand for what the fuck you believe in, and don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do what the fuck you want. I’m a fucking unicorn, and fuck anybody who say I’m not. Wolf Gang. – Tyler, The Creator

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