Tyler the Creator being arrested outside the Roxy in West Hollywood after he allegedly vandalized the club's sound board.
Given everything that occurred over the course of the Odd Future Christmas melee at the Roxy last night, I honestly thought Tyler The Creator ending the show with a Mexican Hat Dance on top of the mixing board was part of the show. Seeing him shoved into a cop car with his mom crying and fans doing their best to start a riot on Sunset Boulevard quickly told me it wasn’t.
I’ve been low-key obsessed with the OFWGKTA (“Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All”) crew ever since I caught them destroy a beyond sold-out club Echo last December. Between their surprisingly tight stage show and the amazing crowd of truly new-school kids creating their own culture was a wonder to behold, especially in real time. Coupled with Tyler’s album Bastard being my favorite hip-hop album of last year (it was officially released – for free – on Christmas Day of 2009), I’ve charted the course of Odd Future as the new bad boys of rap rather closely. I find them to be refreshingly (and often shockingly) real, existing somewhere between N.W.A. and Bad Brains, and in more ways than just the obvious.
South Carolina artist Toro Y Moi (known to his mom as Chazwick Bundick) emerged in 2010 with full-length Causers of This, a shimmering collection of blurry dream-pop sound that played like modern shoe-gazing given the chopped and screwed treatment. Hastily coined “chillwave” by over-caffeinated bloggers and lumped in with the likes of Georgia’s Washed Out, Toro Y Moi separated himself from the pack in a major way with his second album.
On 2011 release Underneath The Pine, Bundick blew open his sound with heavy doses of fresh musical knowledge. Incorporating ‘60s psychedelia, heavy ‘70s funk & even disco, it still stands as one of the most impressive albums of this year.
As a live entity, however, progress has been slower going. The first L.A. Toro Y Moi show in 2010 at the Echo found Bundick performing as a one-man band that didn’t come very close to replicating the dynamics of Causers Of This. A live band of friends from home and a slew of dates around the globe found TYM’s show at the Troubadour earlier this year a much-improved affair. By the time they packed the El Rey this past October, they sounded even better and came with the added bonus of a much-needed longer set (the show at the Troubadour clocked in at a scant 45 minutes).
This is all Kanye West’s fault.
When he ran off to Hawaii with a clutch of old new wave records to nurse a broken heart only to return two weeks later with his polarizing 2008 release, 808s & Heartbreak, the rap game had changed – dramatically.
By exploding the concept of “emo-rap” into an Autotuned lost love lament fueled on lush synthesizers and Tears For Fears samples, the hip-hop nation took it as a green light to get in touch with their own feelings. Soon, artists like Kid Cudi and Drake were living out grandiose emotional dramas on record and in the tabloids, much to the delight of the buying public.
Now on the edge of 2012, we have rapidly emerging artists like Odd Future MVP, Frank Ocean. While the OF crew have built a controversial reputation on an explosive miasma of punk rock nihilism and sacred cow slaughtering, Frank Ocean comes at you as a hardcore lover, not a fighter.