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April 1, 2012 8:23 pm
Comments overheard among punters streaming out of the venue at the end confirmed that it had not been the most edifying evening of entertainment. A young woman complained of men grabbing at her throughout the show. A youth talked about knocking someone out. A young man looked at his white T-shirt and groaned: “Why do I get blood on it every time?”
If Odd Future had wanted to leave their London followers with an improving message – be respectful to women; don’t fight; try not to spill blood on white T-shirts – then their show was a failure. But the Californian rap collective had no such aim. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, to give them their full name, are as morally improving as a stag party in Amsterdam. They are also – and I’m afraid this is linked – an electrifying live act.
On stage there were six rappers, loosely marshalled by the group’s leader Tyler the Creator. Their producer Syd tha Kyd stood at a mixing desk next to a white teenager, whose role was decorative. He was a lookalike of the toothy suburban kid grinning on the cover of the band’s album The OF Tapes Vol 2, which debuted at number 5 in the US charts last week.
Odd Future are young, barely out of their teens themselves. But to rap fans of a certain age (an under-represented category at Brixton Academy) they impart a nostalgic glow. The white boy on their album cover, and his avatar on stage, reminded me of the outrage generated in the US by gangsta rap in 1990s, when “parental advisory” stickers were slapped on Ice Cube albums that were predominantly brought by white suburban teenage boys, who – if your correspondent is anything to go by – weren’t tremendously corrupted by the experience.
The sight of six emcees rapping together was another throwback. As hip-hop has become more materialistic, so it has become more individualised. Odd Future revive the good old days of the rap crew, their voices blending together at certain points, at other times bouncing off one another.
Problems arose with much aimless banter between songs and a relentless undercurrent of sexism. Even they seemed to be tiring of it. “All right we’ll do this, let’s get it over with,” was the introduction to one particularly crude track. Odd Future may yet become less of a guilty pleasure.
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