So, I dusted off my “leaving the house” shoes and ventured out to Webster Hall last night to peep the kids from Odd Future put on their first show in NYC ever.
It was a sold out show in a small room , with an additional 100+ press names on the guest list. Pretty much every magazine, record label and blogger who still gives a shit was there. Even Mos Def rolled in rocking a russian fur hat. By the time OF got ready to rock it was wall to wall people and there was a strange energy. Part excitement (the people in the front) and part “hipster/old people at a rap concert” detachment (All the previously mentioned bloggers, writers and label reps). Still, what could have been like any other bullshit ass CMJ show ,where a performer does his thing while industry assholes drink wine with their back to the stage, was easily the most electric rap show I’ve seen in years (to be fair, I don’t get out much). At least at times it was. The Leader and brains behind the Odd Future outfit, Tyler the Creator,was the obvious star of the show. He jumped out on stage and murdered his opening song , frantically jumping around stage with a green ski mask on. This lead to a very early stage dive that seemed to catch people by surprise. That was pretty awesome. It’s rare you see a dude do a stage dive without warning. He also really went for it. I’m talking like a 8 foot leap off the stage into a pile of confused white hands. While Tyler was up there, the place was rocking. People knew the words and fists were pumping. It was when he stopped that the show hit a wall. Not that his fellow OF members are slouches but it’s hard to match that kind of intensity…especially if you’re style is like that of MellowHype (Hodgy and left brain), which is, all hype aside, pretty mellow. It should also be pointed out that while Tyler is a tall , loud motherfucker who demands attention, Hodgy (The Rapper in MellowHype) is more soft spoken and the size of a muppet so it was definitely harder for him to command the crowd next to Tyler. So, there was a noticeable lull in the energy while Tyler was off stage. Fortunately, that energy would return ten fold every time Tyler burst back into action. Even if it was him just doing ad libs for other OF members.
Here are a few clips of Tyler doing his thing:
Now, keep in mind, I’m not a dude who get “involved” at a show. I’m a “stand in the back and observe type” (this is not an uncommon type for people my age in NYC). I really didn’t go to this show to enjoy the music. I mean, let’s be honest, most rap shows are pretty fucking lame. I stopped liking live rap a long time ago. I more went to witness something that I feel , down the line, will be a landmark event. The first NYC show of Odd Future. With the whole music world clamoring at their feet right now, it’s only a matter of time before they really blow up. I’m talking TV and real videos and , of course, the eventual backlash when the “New” shit comes out to replace them. Gotta love pop culture and it’s fickle sensibilities. But even after that smoke has cleared and the youth of williamsburg and silverlake are jerking off over some amazing rapping transexual who was raised in oakland by way or compton who also happens to design his/her own skateboards and jewelry, I think a lot of this Odd Future shit will stand the test of time. Unlike a lot of these new internet darlings, I see what people see in these kids. It seems authentic even though it’s hard to even pinpoint what it is. It’s nothing new. It’s certainly been done before. Anyone who was around during the late 80’s or the mid 90’s should be no stranger to an exciting new movement in hip hop. But , I think what’s most exciting about these kids is that they are kids…doing what they’re doing. I had long given up on our youth as a group that could make interesting music from an original angle and , upon hearing “Earl” by Earl Sweatshirt, I felt like there was hope. These guys aren’t gonna save rap or anything but they are an example of doing shit the right way, for the right reasons and pulling it off. They are no longer a secret that a small group of internet obsessives can call their own but at least, for the time being, they’re keeping this shit how they planned it. Low-fi, DYI, Grimy and unapologetic.