List

The 36 Best Odd Future Songs Not By Frank Ocean

24. Earl Sweatshirt – “Drop” (from 2010’s Radical)

“Drop” would be higher on this list if it had an original beat, but damn did Earl Sweatshirt demolish Rich Boy’s “Drop” better than Rich Boy himself — or anyone else that hopped on the Cha Lo and Polow da Don-produced beat. He says so himself in the intro to the song, and the confidence he has at 16 to state the obvious adds to an already skilled tongue. “Drop” also proved that Earl wasn’t some kind of fluke, and cemented his spot in the crew as resident lyricist supreme. Radical was largely forgettable as a project, but Earl’s contribution still has some heft.

23. Tyler, The Creator – “French!” (from 2009’s Bastard)

This song is pretty despicable, but it was crucial to establishing what Odd Future were about. Tyler lists off a bunch of fairy tales and norms, and blows them up in the vilest way possible. “French!” was one of the first visuals we received from Tyler as well, and the music went with the crazy, unabashed, adolescent defiance of the images perfectly. The beat is mayhem in sonic form; the perfect soundtrack for destruction, delinquency, and teenage invincibility. Tyler carried the early load in defining Odd Future’s identity, and this song was a big part of that.

22. Pyramid Vritra – “YELLOW” (from 2016’s Yellowing)

Pyramid Vritra makes cosmic, off-time-on-purpose, disjointed soundscapes that owe a lot to J Dilla, minus the sampling. He took some years to develop an identity out of the crew, but his progressive arc is something to marvel at. “YELLOW” is a paragon of his style and shows how far he’s come as an artist. Pyramid Vritra’s latest offering, Yellowing, came out in a packed summer and got slept on, but there are some truly inventive and engaging moments on there.

21. Matt Martians – “Diamond In Da Ruff” (from 2017’s The Drum/Chord Theory)

Matt Martians is probably the most influential member of the group after Tyler, The Creator himself, having worked in the Jet Age Of Tomorrow with Pyramid Vritra, the Internet, and Sweaty Martians with Earl Sweatshirt. He has production credits on 39 Odd Future efforts, including contributions to all of Frank Ocean’s albums (aside from Endless), all of Tyler, The Creator’s albums, and all of Earl Sweatshirt’s albums. His work as the groove-man in the Internet is the backbone of the sextet, and his solo effort The Drum/Chord Theory further exemplifies just how much he brings to the table. Those hidden tracks within tracks, crazy but somehow perfect groove and mood switches, and the cleverly syncopated drum patterns are all Martians. All of those elements are present on The Drum/Chord Theory’s first single, “Diamond In Da Ruff.” It glides along with a peanut butter-smooth groove until a phone call interrupts and the whole feel of the song shifts to something completely different but equally funky. Martians says The Drum/Chord Theory will be his “only album ever,” which is a damn shame.

20. Syd – “Body” (From 2017’s Fin)

Syd’s sensuality and sexual orientation have been written about to death. That’s for good reason, because it’s not every day the public is introduced to an all-black band fronted by a lesbian, and the fact that the dynamic exists should be celebrated, but it shouldn’t detract from the real reason why the Internet should be getting attention, which is: They make good music. That being said, it’s hard to ignore Syd as a sexual being on “Body” because she is more overtly sexual on this song than almost any Internet song. There are moments on Ego Death where she is very seductive and flirtatious like “Special Affair” (more on that later), but she mostly just approaches and alludes or goes more relational. She sets the second verse in the bedroom, and isn’t shy about cameras rolling, or taking on dominant and subordinate roles which exhibit her sexual fluidity and openness. Her sensual, gauzy voice, blended with the MeLo-X trap-tinged R&B soundscape may resemble Jhene Aiko and Kehlani, but the way she chooses to express her sexuality adds mystery and intrigue.

19. The Internet – “Dontcha” (from 2013’s Feel Good)

Earlier iterations of the Internet were criminally slept on and written off as a mediocre Odd Future offshoot, but “Dontcha” woke people up with its subtle sultry vibes and loose jam-band grooves. After Ego Death dropped, the view count for the “Dontcha” video nearly doubled, and it’s sitting at just over 7.5 million views in three years. You’d never guess Syd could hold down some funky R&B grooves if you remember her waving a toy Uzi in Tyler, The Creator’s “French!” video, but here we are.

18. Domo Genesis & Alchemist – “No Idols” (Feat. Tyler, The Creator) (from 2012’s No Idols)

It wasn’t immediately clear that Domo Genesis warranted production from Alchemist over which to talk silly shit about getting high and messing with women, but both he and Tyler did this beat justice. Uncle Al laced the sample-driven backdrop that switches energy at precise moments, and Doms delivers. No Odd Future rapper is a stranger to classic hip-hop beats, but no one kills them like Earl Sweatshirt. Doms comes the closest to getting on Earl’s level on this track, and though they’re two different kinds of rappers, to see this kind of lyricism from him elicited by a classic producer like Alchemist is awesome.

17. Hodgy – “Final Hour” (Feat. Busta Rhymes) (from 2016’s Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide)

Who would have thought Hodgy could hang with Busta Rhymes on a track? Not I. I knew he had been killing features and putting out solid songs for years with a crazy progressive arc, but Busta though? And especially a renewed Bus-A-Bus with the energy from We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service still coursing through him? Anyway, that’s what happened. Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide is quietly, both in buzz and sound, one of the better rap albums of 2016. It came out the same day as Post Malone’s Stoney, Tech N9ne’s The Storm, Ab-Soul’s Do What Thou Wilt, and J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only, and the argument for it being the best album out that day is not as far-fetched as it would seem. It should place instead of getting a participation medal. “Final Hour” is a testament to how far Hodgy has come as a rapper.

16. Earl Sweatshirt – “Molasses” (from 2013’s Doris)

Earl went h.a.m. on this joint right here and RZA came correct with the beat. Earl’s spitting with an energy he rarely emits that makes it easy to imagine him as the only West Coast member of the Wu-Tang Clan in their prime. Bong. And of course the rhymes are still as complex as ever, packed full of multis that string together words you never imagined existing in the same sentence. Sample venom: “I’m at the deli scheming on a Fanta and a Camel Crush/ Screaming “Saddle up!” like fuck is beef? Get your cattle cut, pansy/ If them fans only local, why them flights trans-atlantied up?/ The rice and patty’s cooked, nice for the chancellor/ Them teeth with the gold bright, the light switches mad at us/ Snap chatting panty clad baddies, I’m a bachelor.” Earl plus any classic hip-hop producer is a recipe for a dope song, it just so happens that this one came out doper than most.

15. Tyler, The Creator – “She” (Feat. Frank Ocean) (from 2011’s Goblin)

Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean have an odd but cohesive energy on songs. Ocean’s croon and knack for inspiring deep introspection and emotion doesn’t seem like it would easily mesh with Tyler’s maniacal energy and storytelling that is equal parts imaginative and disgusting, but it does. Ocean’s sincerity and tenderness belie the overall creepiness of the song which includes stalking, Tyler calling the girl he’s pining for a “cunt” and making a death threat for spurning his advances. So yeah, not the sweetest song, but Ocean’s voice gives it the quality of an ironic ballad. It’s hard to get over the weirdness if you’re not into that kind of thing, but what did you expect on a Tyler, The Creator album?

14. EarlWolf (Tyler, The Creator & Earl Sweatshirt) – “Orange Juice” (from 2010’s Radical)

Tyler and Earl as a duo aren’t of the current gold standard of Killer Mike and El-P or classic duos like Method Man and Redman, EPMD, and Black Star, but they get into some maniacal, entertaining trade-offs à la Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″‘s Bad Meets Evil. Earl could easily eclipse Tyler on any given track, but Tyler either steps up the lunacy in his storytelling or the dexterity of his bars to match him (or at least approach him) every time. “Orange Juice” is arguably the best EarlWolf collaboration, and Earl has some utterly dizzying rhyme schemes on this one. Peep the first four bars: “So I’m guessin’ there’s questions that need addressin’, huh?/ Like how we fresh in our adolescence and wreckin’ ‘em/ Hand ‘em tracks, he destined to make a mess of ‘em/ Snappin’ necks and records in matter of seconds check ‘em son.” Sheesh. There’s no way Tyler can top that, but he cleverly flips some fairy tales and classic cartoons into some maniacal retelling and wills his verse to match Earl’s with raw energy. Tyler and Earl are responsible for cementing Odd Future’s legacy, whatever that may be, and though they’re less close now than they used to be, it’s nice to revisit “Orange Juice” for a reminder of how far the clique has come.

13. The Internet – “Sunset” (Feat. Yuna) (from 2013’s Feel Good)

“Sunset” is a soulful, healing, feel-good ditty. Syd’s subtly piercing writing and vocals mesh seamlessly with Yuna’s polished, sweeping indie-pop stylings as both have an uncanny ability to elicit a cathartic experience out of simplistic lyrics. Yuna has the versatility to lean R&B and hip-hop (hence later songs featuring Usher and production from DJ Premier), and Syd inhabits the overlapping space on the Venn diagram of R&B, hip-hop, trap, funk, and soul with the best of them. The two of them singing about the ups and downs of life and relationships, soaking up the sun’s rays with hope and yearning as affirmation that they’re truly living, is refreshing. Whatever liquor does to numb the pain of life, this song does in a much more pure and organic way. It also hints at the Internet’s potential, offering one of the best earlier glimpses of the musicianship that drives the full band now.