Love Internet hype but feel squeamish about violent, morally questionable rap lyrics? Good news, then: Writing for the Poetry Foundation, FreeDarko’s (and, occasionally, nymag.com’s) Bethlehem Shoals helpfully explains why it’s okay to like Odd Future.
Is OFWGKTA offensive? Yes, but they’re also undeniably funny, sad, and, somehow, devoid of moral gravity in a way that’s both silly and nearly surreal. One friend of mine has referred to OFWGKTA’s lyrics as coming from an unformed “girls are gross” perspective, and certainly, in the YouTube videos where 16-year-old Earl Sweatshirt isn’t rapping about cannibalism and screwing corpses, he comports himself like a shy, polite kid just out to goof off with his friends. At the same time, OFWGKTA makes such doggedly creative and self-aware music that it sometimes feels as if they’ve chosen depravity not because they want to, but because they can. If there’s such a thing as meta-vile, then these kids are your pioneers.
Also of note:
Nor are OFWGKTA the rightful heirs to Eminem, despite his obvious influence and their tendency to compare themselves to the Detroit icon. Eminem’s mixture of aggression, dark humor, and inner torment is his version of authenticity, a persona that amplifies, and sometimes caricatures, his sense of himself and his place in the world. He is hopelessly confessional, but also defiantly so. The Odd Future bunch never mistake acting nuts for actually being nuts, and what makes their music so easy to excuse, and enjoy, is the sense of living, breathing kids underneath all the ugliness.
There are also references to Dennis Cooper, Roberto Bolaño, and futurism. Read the whole thing at the Poetry Foundation.