And my favorite song of the year is…

1. Oldie– OFWGKTA

I’ve watched the nearly eleven-minute video for Odd Future’s “Oldie” at least a dozen times, equivalent to a full-length movie. Their impromptu masterpiece reminds us why Los Angeles fell head-over-heels for a group of pothead, skateboarding, fun-loving young punks with boatloads of talent and even more camaraderie. They collectivize in the truest sense, offering every member a chance to get their art out and make it big, and being the first visible social media group, the Internet has responded to their efforts with great appreciation.

That’s not to say they follow a horizontal power structure; “Oldie” proves a hierarchy exists within the group. You have the heavy hitters (Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt), the up-and-comers (Hodgy Beats, Mike G, Domo Genesis), the role players (Left Brain, Frank Ocean), and then you have Jasper. There’s a reason Earl gets the longest verse and Tyler gets two while Jasper gets only nine bars, but each player gets the same beat and at least sixteen bars to shine, and out of the nine (nine!) verses, only Hodgy’s is relatively forgettable. The rest is gold.

Tyler gets the ball rolling to remind us Odd Future does not exist without him. He is by far the most entertaining of the group and has the rhyming chops to substantiate his wild ego and attention needs. Hodgy follows to what is now in retrospect a vanilla verse, but he manages to insert Greek mythology, African politics, and Kool Aid before passing it off to his MelloHype partner. Left Brain cannot stay on par, and he knows it, so he keeps it simple with a veritable Christmas list of that night’s party. He has the most fun of the group, and he provided the endlessly re-playable beat, so his contributions outweigh his flaws.

Mike G gives the group a hip-hop history lesson, flowing with a Los Angeles G-Funk cadence reminiscent of the Doggiest of the Dogg days, and providing a wonderful countdown I didn’t catch until ten minutes before this was written (“I had the top off the GT3 like toupees/one finger in the air…”). His coming out party is the song’s strongest verse besides Earl’s, a good thing since he’s the best unknown in the group. Domo perpetuates his mainstream appeal but stacks up the nostalgia and delivers what appears to be Tyler’s favorite bar: “I’ve been running blocks since a snotty tot/Big Wheel was a big deal with the water glocks/Now I’m all grown, same song but a different waltz/Fire when I talk but still cooler than an otter pop.” You don’t mess with little Domo.

Frank’s verse is the song’s Easter egg. While true his vocation is to sing, he displays more than competent rapping abilities (“I’m hi [high?] and I’m bye [bi?], wait, no I’m straight” contains entendres up the yin yang). He is by far the most successful and critically adored of the group, and though the video shows him as kind of over all of the childish behavior, everyone else can’t help but to look at Frankie and see what could be. It’s special to see him go back to the guys who both shit around with him and helped make him famous.

(Jasper introduces his verse, “This rapping is stupid and it’s hard.” He is amateurish, but he is confident, and he gets in one good Chappelle line before passing it off to the contrasting “pair of lips”).

We then get two glorious minutes of Earl. His gigantic verse could be a song itself, ideas flying out from an angry beehive, myself needing to pause the song every ten or so seconds to reflect on the meaning and magnitude of his words. He takes two bars to display his mastery of assonance and sibilance (“Spit till the lips meet the bottom of a barrel/so that sterile piss flow remind these n—– where embarrassed is”), one bar to floss (“lord of lips/bored of this/forklift to tippy top/best under 40 list”), and half a bar to shout out to Three-6 Mafia and comment on metropolitan race politics (“so you can’t see my like Crunchy Black catching a taxi”). As just an eighteen year old, he’s by far the most talented lyricist of the bunch and one of the best in the game. He requires thematic focus and a lot more motivation to realize his staggering potential, but we just may be witnessing the prelude to greatness. Tyler then takes a second helping and wraps everything up neatly for us.

About a year ago I wrote that “Yonkers” sounds like the catalyst for rap’s badly needed punk movement. If 2012 was any indication, I need a better crystal ball, but I also wrote that Odd Future would for better or worse be making headlines for the next decade. I stand by this assertion, partially because every member has a unique talent and high enough ceiling to crank out quality entertainment, but mostly because when I watch these guys (and gal, Syd tha Duuuude) perform, I see a confused bunch of kids who are having the time of their lives. Many rappers have lost sight about why they got into the game and have taken their status, wealth, and public relations too seriously. This is the best song of the year because these guys have and give fun, and above all things, the money, sex, and drugs, even above the original Four Elements, hip-hop is supposed to be fun.


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