“This is what the devil plays before he goes to sleep / Some food for thought, this food for death, go ahead and fucking eat.”
Over sparse and metronomic piano chords, Tyler Okonma – that’s Tyler, the Creator to everyone bar his mum, sister and the UK Border Control – introduced the world to his dark, twisted and often-brilliant vein of songwriting through the title track to his controversial 2009 mixtape, 'Bastard'. It was by no means the first material from either Tyler or his growing band of “skaters and musicians with an intuition” who would form the ranks of Odd Future, but, as the de facto leader of the collective, Tyler’s first full body of work was the launchpad needed for fans to get excited about these young hellraisers from LA.
So, then, how did it get to the point on Saturday – when Tyler was holding his now-annual ‘Camp Flog Gnaw’ Festival in Los Angeles, which sold out its allocation of 30,000 tickets and was headlined this year by Snoop Dogg (Pharrell and Kanye have appeared in previous years) – where Odd Future member Hodgy Beats called Tyler a “fraud” on stage (before continuing the vocal barbs on social media afterwards)?
Tyler, rarely afraid to speak his mind, made it clear that he wasn’t going to let the insults slide, using his subsequent set to fire back:
"Niggas got me fucked up. I put too many niggas on," he told fans from the stage. "I helped too many of my motherfucking friends out. And niggas’ gonna come foul? And you know who the fuck I’m talking about, nigga. And yes, it’s getting real. I love you though."
Naturally, this rather public fall-out made huge waves across both social media and the music press, with many speculating that this was the most emphatic sounding of the death knell yet for OF. Hodgy subsequently posted an Instagram video last night that made everyone think twice: entitled "Fuck you Tyler", Hodgy, alongside a grinning Tyler, addresses the camera: "Tyler told me to stop being a bitch... so I said, 'Alright.'" The two then proceed to perform handstands. Watch the footage below.
But even if things do appear to have been patched up for the meantime, this clash has revealed ever growing cracks in Odd Future’s crumbling empire. It certainly seems like a million years ago since the joyous gang mentality that flourished in the group's 2012 heyday.
So what has happened since then to signal that Odd Future’s united front is not as strong as it once was? Here are the incidents that have caused fans to worry.
They’ve not released any music together since 2013
Although there have only ever been three records that have been released under the collective Odd Future name, ‘The Odd Future Tape’ (2008), the ‘Radical’ mixtape (2010), and ‘The OF Tape Vol. 2’ (2012), there hasn't been so much as one song in two years (the one-off single 'Look', which was randomly put on SoundCloud in October 2013), as group members focus on solo projects.
OFWGKTA's live presence has also diminished
Bar Saturday’s Flog Gnaw appearance, the name OFWGKTA hasn’t appeared on a concert or festival bill for a little while – not since they supported Eminem at Wembley Stadium in July 2014, to be exact. And even then, Saturday’s performance was a little thin: only Mike G, Domo Genesis, Left Brain and Hodgy were present, as Tyler was scheduled to perform a solo set later that evening. The band name was even shoved down to the middle of the poster for the festival, as if to emphasise its current insignificance. It all feels a long way from those internet breaking performances at SXSW in 2011, the near-riot in London (see below), or the two consecutive years they played Reading and Leeds Festival.
Hodgy’s clearly had enough of the OF tag
Prior to yesterday's reconciliation on Instagram, Hodgy Beats had backed up his on-stage insults by posting various tweets aimed indirectly at Tyler. “Think about who built the name OF together as a unit. Now think about who took the first initial shit on OF," he tweeted on November 16. "If it wasn't for OF where would Tyler be?” Hodgy also said that this year's performance would be his last at Tyler's carnival, as well as revealing in a press shot that he’d had an Odd Future tattoo blacked out.
The Internet said that Odd Future isn’t a thing anymore
Three years ago The Internet were little more than an Odd Future side project, with lead singer Syd's main focus being production and vocal duties across a range of OF's records. However, the group have become increasingly popular with their most recent record, 'Ego Death' met with critical acclaim and an impressive performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. Internet member Matt Martians boldly declared this year that Odd Future should ditch their name in order to move forward individually. Speaking in an interview with AllHipHop.com, he said: “I think it’s important for our progress, and other people in Odd Future’s progress, to shed that name.”
Although The Internet still release their records through the Odd Future label (and Martians went on to say in the same interview that “we actually love each other behind the scenes… it’s a thing when I know if all of us were in a room right now together it would be mad jokes”), it did strongly hint that the artists within Odd Future aren’t especially keen on being defined by that moniker anymore.
Earl and Tyler’s relationship is under constant scrutiny
The two often used to refer to one another as “brother” in their songs – Tyler's ‘This Nigga Ugly’ saw him rap, “This my little brother on my mother's side, our father died” while Earl took ‘Chum’ to say: “Searching for a big brother, Tyler was that”. They appeared on one another’s songs and toured the world together in 2013.
But since that tour, relations – at least publicly – appear to have frozen over. Tyler revealed in his cover feature with Fader late last year that “We just aren't as close as we were. It's kind of weird, but I'm aware and smart enough to know, okay, shit changes" and confirming that they hadn’t worked on music together since the 2013 Doris cut ‘Sasquatch’. Earl now tours alone, and was one of the first to back up Tyler’s May tweet that OF are no more, stating that all the leader was doing was “solidifying the obvious”.
Tyler has hinted - and then subsequently denied - that Odd Future isn’t a thing anymore
“Although its [sic] no more, those 7 letters [OFWGKTA] are forever” Tyler cryptically tweeted in May, which sent the rumour mill into overdrive as fans speculated about OF’s demise. Certainly things aren’t what they used to be – Tyler is now his own man, solely promoting his own brand of merchandise and media. He's also painted an uncertain image of the future of OF since tweeting in 2014 that he’s “NOT FROM OF ANYMORE”. Whilst he later went back on the “7 years are forever” tweet – “ALL I WAS DOING WAS LOOKING AT OLD PHOTOS WITH FRIENDS AND THINKING ABOUT HOW TIME FLIES, CRAZY HOW ONE TWEET CAN STIR SO MUCH” – Saturday’s events suggest those feelings dismissed at the time are perhaps not as forgotten as everyone would like to think they are.
If the disgruntlement does lead to an official split, there will probably be no one more disappointed than Tyler himself - if his post-Hodgy beef tweet is anything to go by, anyway:
SUCH A BUM OUT MAN— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) November 15, 2015