vulture investigates

Oscar Nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee Is Also a SoundCloud Rapper

“But could Bronco Henry do this?” Photo: Koda Spekz/YouTube

As of yesterday, Kodi Smit-McPhee has been nominated for an Academy Award at the alleged age of 25 (Wikipedia still isn’t sure when exactly he was born …. mysterious!). This is a huge accomplishment for the Australian actor, who earned the nom for playing the Hula-Hoopin’, paper flower–craftin’, vintage porn–findin’ “creepy murder twink” in The Power of the Dog. It’s a memorable performance, intense and uncanny, with Smit-McPhee using every inch of his lanky form to signal how he’s on a different wavelength from the environments and people around him.

Do you know what else he uses every inch of his lanky frame for? Popping and locking. Like Florence Pugh and Timothée Chalamet before him, it turns out that Smit-McPhee has lived a whole double life as a teen YouTuber. “I like to mix rap and dubstep,” he told Document magazine in 2012, when he was 16. “I guess I’m not a rapper, but I can rap.” The time capsule profile reveals that he tweeted out songs and videos under the handle kodathecreator at the time and he was “making an iTunes album,” adding “excitedly that one of his pop-and-lock dance videos got over 7,000 YouTube hits.” Readers, we have found a dance video. It might not be the dance video, but it was posted to YouTube in 2013 under the name Koda Spekz and has a little under 7,000 hits. Its caption is, simply, “i like girls.”

This wacky, waving inflatable man routine is the only video on this particular iteration of a Koda Spekz YouTube channel, but don’t worry — Smit-McPhee made multiple accounts. On a second Koda Spekz channel, he posted seven videos between October and December of 2013, most of them high-quality home videos set to chill music. Like this one that’s just showing off some piles of rocks he made:

Or this one, in which he shows off his car:

And his rad dad on a motorcycle:

The culminating opus on this channel is a ten-minute short film titled AWAKEN - made by one person - Kodi Smit McPhee.

It’s very moody and film student–y, divided into segments like “dawn” and “dusk” with a requisite drug-trip sequence in between. The short ends with Smit-McPhee reciting poetry he wrote, in an American-accented voice-over. One couplet reads: “GOD SAW WHAT HE MADE AND HE SAID IT WAS GOOD / WHEN YOU WERE COLD YOU CHOPPED SOME WOOD.”

And his bars don’t end there. On a third YouTube channel from 2013, also called Koda Spekz (do you think he just kept forgetting passwords?), Smit-McPhee posted three original raps; “Painless” has the most views, at 15,000.

This post was going to be one of those celebrity digital archaeological digs, a glimpse into a serious actor’s goofy online teen past, like the discovery of young Chalamet’s Xbox 360 controller mod channel. But we had it all wrong.

Because Koda Spekz lives. Smit-McPhee has been posting original tracks to SoundCloud for the past eight years, and based on the play counts (mostly under a thousand) and followers (518 at the time of writing), it seems like barely anyone knows about it. His most recent upload — a nine-track mixtape called PARASITE — was uploaded just two months ago. (Also he’s just going by Kodi now.) He has definitely improved since his teens, showboating a rapid flow that certainly outpaces fellow Aussie rappers like … uh … Iggy Azalea?

Many tracks from the past few years have graphics and names teetering between online edgelord and late-millennial nostalgia, like “BEYBLADE,” “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “MEWTWO.” A track called “kill your TV” has a vaporwave collage cover with a Ren & Stimpy VHS tape at the center. “I know that no one can save me / Gotta do it all for myself, see / I just need the money for my family / While they play games like Monopoly,” he spits, and it’s as clear a look into the life of a child actor as any (even if he was in his 20s at this point). Those The Road residuals were carrying.

It’s honestly refreshing to see an actor who on the one hand is celebrated by all of Hollywood for serious work, and on the other uploading faux trap that gets 87 views. It’s humanizing. Pugh hasn’t picked up her acoustic guitar as “Flossie Rose” in five years; Lil Timmy Tim is an artifact of the past. Smit-McPhee says, Why not both? Why not critical acclaim and Academy recognition and also a rap called “ShitOurGenerationLikes 2” accompanied by album art of Dr. Phil with pink dreads? We just want to know when he’s going to drop the collab with Power of the Dog composer Jonny Greenwood. Kiki Dunst on the piano, of course.

Oscar Nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee Is Also a SoundCloud Rapper