Tyler The Creator and Hodgy Beats from LA shock rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All made an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night. If you know anything about the group, it will come as no surprise that the performance was four minutes of sheer pandemonium, culminating in Tyler jumping on Fallon's back and Mos Def screaming "SWAG! SWAG! AHHHHHH!" with his nose practically touching the camera. Watch the clip below.
There was some speculation about what song Odd Future would perform on the show, given that the content of everything they've ever made is horrifically, graphically inappropriate for network television. They went with "Sandwitches," a song that involves the word fuck four times in the first ten seconds in its original form. The TV edit still would have been pretty appalling to watch with your mom (the line "Screw the mask I want that girl to know it's me" stayed). They brought with them a girl dressed as a horror movie spectre and, for some reason, a gnome, and Tyler did not miss the opportunity to scare the shit out of Fallon's guests. And as insane as this whole thing was, as much conversation as it will generate, we think it was a bad idea for everyone involved.
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Odd Future are treading dangerously close to the mainstream at this point. Tyler signed a one-album deal with XL and just appeared on NBC. We are never opposed to artists getting recognition for their work, but in this particular case, it seems to undermine the whole point of Odd Future. If their amoral music has a redeeming quality, it is that it forces people out of their comfort zones. But in a world where the internet allows popularity and relevance to be self-fulfilling prophecies, we wind up elevating a nineteen-year-old kid who raps about rape and calls everyone faggot.
We can understand why Mos Def and ?uestlove got so excited about this performance. There's no doubt that it was captivating, and music that making the older generations squirm has always been an invaluable process in the evolution of art. But what happens when the older generation decides to endorse it, even if they don't know why? This is sort of like a protest march where those in power join the protesters. What is everyone yelling about then? Bands like Odd Future need a force to push against, and without that, all that's left is ugliness.