“Domestic violence groups to protest Odd Future at Pitchfork”
Here’s my opinion of Odd Future: Their whole “shock as art, our words are just theoretical and don’t mean nothing” shtick is tired, just tired. They’ve got some good beats and some funny lyrics, but overall I’m bored by their work. Misogyny and homophobia are not new lyrical devices and if Odd Future were actually (consistently) using them in the some creative fashion, maybe I’d be inclined to treat what they do as art rather than a bunch of teenage punks being obnoxious because they’ve been given a spotlight. I’m not one to protest a musician for having offensive lyrics, but when an artist’s response to charges that his music is homophobic or misogynistic is to imply that the person (a lesbian) needs a good dicking, something has to give. Seriously bro? That’s all you’ve got? Clearly this kid is a genius. Can we all agree that Tyler the Creator is NOT some Kurt Cobain-cum-Nietzsche lyrical maestro articulating the alienation of American youth as he speaks truth to power?
But riddle me this, Odd Future fans. Why is that when a bunch teenage/early 20 something black kids talk about mutilating a woman’s clitoris with a shard of glass they’re musical geniuses and when ICP does it, they’re white trash from the suburbs of Michigan? Is it the clown makeup? Is that what makes ICP’s work lowbrow beats for ‘trash’? Do hoodies make Odd Future’s music ‘highbrow’ for hipsters? Is it the novelty of their young blackness that makes Pitchfork fawn all over them?
I see a certain kind of irony that 56 years after the death of Emmett Till, a young teenage black boy who was horribly murdered in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman, our society has “evolved” to valorize someone like Tyler who raps about beating and raping women and then subjects female fans at his concerts to the following:
She kept the look when, just after two in the morning, a blonde girl surfed her way onstage and kissed Tyler, who announced, “I might legit have herpes.” The crowd laughed and started a “show your titties” chant, and she refused, looking bashful. “Then get the fuck off the stage!” Tyler yelled, and she jumped into the outstretched hands, just as easily forgotten as the things he’d said.
Is this the post-racist American society Obama’s election ushered in? I see racism, albeit in very different extremes, at work in the examples of Till and Tyler. Perhaps I don’t ‘get’ hip hop and the ‘joke’ of Odd Future is lost on me - I admit hip-hop is not a genre that I am as familiar with as electronica or indie rock. But I’m not entirely convinced that Odd Future would have the buzz they have in the indie/hipster world if they weren’t young black kids rapping about ‘faggots’ and beating women. But I’m open to someone offering a counterpoint or two about Odd Future.
As for the groups that want to protest Odd Future at Pitchfork’s festival, props to them for trying. Maybe something good will come of it but my guess is that they’ll have endure Tyler and co hurling some dick and rape jokes at them during their set. And Pitchfork’s leaders will continue to rake in the bucks, as they continue to conflate a certain kind of musical elitism with socially conscious commentary.