The 36 Best Odd Future Songs Not By Frank Ocean
The earliest iteration of Odd Future was formed in 2007 although the collective didn’t release their first mixtape, The Odd Future Tape, until 2008. Ten years later, several members have grown from rebellious, defiant misfits with a penchant for fuckery into legitimate artists to be reckoned with. The Internet frontfigure Syd’s solo album, Fin, recently dropped, and it’s the second of six solo releases from all the members of her Grammy-nominated band.
Of course, the Internet aren’t the only Odd Future affiliates to receive a Grammy nod, but Frank Ocean has pretty much transcended any kind of affiliation with the group at this point in his career. Though the others will probably never grace any podiums other than the MTV Woodie Awards, it’s been incredible to see them transform from fake-gun-toting, shopping-cart-destroying, utterly recalcitrant, horrorcore-flirting shit-stirrers into artists who take themselves seriously and demand that critics do the same. Though the collective isn’t as tight-knit as it once was and it’s difficult to know which members still claim their affiliation, the OF umbrella is still touting Syd’s album and proudly tweeting lyrics from her lead single, “Body.” Without the original OF, none of this would be possible.
So, in honor of Odd Future’s 10th anniversary, we’re ranking the 36 best tracks to emerge from the Wolf Gang — minus their most famous member, Frank Ocean, who deserves his own Ultimate Playlist at this point. Of course there’s plenty more to come from these artists, but this is where they are right now, and this is how they got here.
36. Tyler, The Creator – “Odd Toddlers” (Feat. Casey Veggies) (from 2008’s The Odd Future Tape and 2009’s Bastard)
Tyler, The Creator got away with stealing an MF Doom beat on this one. He slowed and down-pitched Doom’s “One Beer” beat from Mm.. Food. The borrowed beat is indicative of where a fledgling Odd Future was in 2008; they were searching for an identity and seeking creative misfits to fill out the crew. Tyler, Matt Martians, Pyramid Vritra, and Left Brain were the sonic architects of the group, but they didn’t quite have a definitive sound or persona. You could hear their influences, and there were inklings of musical prowess, but nothing was fully formed. Tyler veered toward horrorcore in his rhymes, but how much of the vile, disgusting imagery are you going to believe from an 18-/19-year-old kid from the ‘burbs of LA? On “Odd Toddlers,” he mostly talked fashion and prestige. The latter would disappear completely from his narrative, and the former would become casual mentions of the Supreme box logo and five-panel hats. He wasn’t sure what any of this would amount to, and he needed the strength and affirmation that comes with numbers. Tyler and crew were certainly toddlers on this song, but the energy from this track shows up again in later iterations of the Wolf Gang.
35. The Jet Age Of Tomorrow – “But She’s Not My Lover” (From 2010’s Voyager)
The Jet Age Of Tomorrow is a slept-on Odd Future entity, but Matt Martians and Pyramid Vritra have been largely responsible for the crew’s distinctive sounds since 2007. The production duo laid down most of the framework for The Odd Future Tape as the Super 3. Though the crew would undergo something of an identity crisis following the tape and Casey Veggies’ departure, they remained integral to OF’s sound. Martians has contributed to almost every entry in the Odd Future catalogue, and Vritra isn’t far behind. As the Jet Age Of Tomorrow, they make inventive, experimental soundscapes that include elements of all the other Odd Future aesthetics with quirky twists that challenge the ear. They’ve both developed into solid solo acts on their own as well, but Odd Future wouldn’t have a lot of their defining songs were it not for the Jet Age Of Tomorrow. “But She’s Not My Lover” is an exemplary foray into their sound and the collective’s simultaneously.
34. The Internet – “Fastlane” (from 2011’s Purple Naked Ladies)
Syd’s subtle seduction and knack for depicting the different elements and stages of being in a relationship is a main staple of the Internet to this day, and it has been since the group’s early iterations. “Fastlane” is one of the brightest early examples of Syd’s pen skills as she extends a driving metaphor for the entire song. Matt Martians’ ability to glide through genres of black music including funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop, trap, and jazz is also front-and-center, and this smooth ride is an early indication of what was to come for the Interwebs.
33. Tyler, The Creator – “Bastard” (from 2009’s Bastard)
“Bastard” is far from the best Odd Future song or even the best Tyler, The Creator song, but it’s an important entry in both his and the collective’s narrative arcs. The Wolf Gang didn’t have a public identity at the time this was recorded, and Casey Veggies’ departure was an early setback. Tyler hoisted the crew on his back, and was carrying the load solo until Earl Sweatshirt came along with Earl and introduced some legitimate skill to be reckoned with. Tyler held things down with Bastard, though, and its title track is one hell of an introduction. The self-deprecation, violent lashing out, misfit laments, misogyny, gay-bashing, youthful rebelliousness, and questionable sincerity in “Bastard” are all tenets of Tyler’s public persona, which extended to the larger crew. This song is much more than an intro to Tyler’s project — it was an intro to everything Odd Future came to be viewed as by the public, and it launched several noteworthy careers.
32. Domo Genesis – “Super Market” (Feat. Tyler, The Creator) (from 2010’s Rolling Papers)
Domo Genesis established himself as Odd Future’s resident cheefer on Rolling Papers, and much of the tape revolves around tree and the pleasures it brings. But “Super Market” hinted at how inventive and versatile Doms could be, trading shots that hit close to home with Tyler, The Creator. Tyler has a knack for maniacal storytelling, and a tendency to throw shots at any and every person he feels like attacking, so this track was his turf. Doms matched him bar-for-bar, and though things get outlandish, as they tend to do when Tyler’s around, the jabs they spit at each others’ expense are funny and piercing. Doms has since evolved to be more than a stoner rapper despite proudly owning that persona. Meeting Tyler at his level on this track is a precursor to Doms grooving with Anderson .Paak on “Dapper,” and holding his own with fellow stoners Smoke DZA and Curren$y on a track. He’s surprisingly malleable for what initially seemed like a limited identity.
31. Mellowhype – “Hell” (Feat. Frank Ocean) (from 2010’s BlackenedWhite)
Hodgy made vast improvements after releasing his first mixtape, The Dena Tape, in 2009, which was followed by Mellowhype’s 2010 debut, Yellowhite. But Hodgy and Left Brain really hit their stride on 2010’s Blackenedwhite, and “Hell” is its highlight. Hodgy’s self-reflective storytelling shines on this track, and Left Brain’s minimal beat gave Hodgy’s flow room to breathe and stretch out. Frank Ocean’s introspective hook nicely ties everything together.
30. Mellowhigh – “Troublesome2013″ (from 2013’s Mellowhigh)
The Mellowhigh trio of Hodgy, Left Brain, and Domo Genesis have some nice stoner anthems in their catalog, and “Troublesome” is for anyone who inhales paranoia along with their smoke. Doms and Hodgy both spit vivid verses with provocative imagery that perfectly depict an uncontrollable tweak session. Doms is the resident Odd Future weedhead, and Hodgy has been a rapidly improving storyteller since The Dena Tape. On this song, the two meet in the middle beautifully over a Left Brain beat that hits like drugs in sonic form. Spark one, then bump this.
29. The Internet – “Cocaine” (from 2011’s Purple Naked Ladies)
Before the Internet became the powerhouse R&B sextet that they are today, there was just Matt Martians and Syd, but the duo showed early signs of who they would become from the very beginning. The whomping funk grooves of “Cocaine” are still present on Ego Death and Syd is still singing deceptively penetrating lyrics that contemplate the ups and downs of relationships. In many ways, “Cocaine” is the blueprint for the full-blown Internet that’s now getting Grammy nods and selling out national tours; they were never bad, just less developed.
28. Mike G – “DAM” (Feat. Left Brain) (from 2015’s Verses II and 2016’s Mike Check Vol. II)
Mike G is one of the most prolific members of Odd Future. He’s always been slightly removed from the early fuckery of the group, and is the most typically mainstream rapper of the crew. “DAM” is a highlight of his catalog; the beat leans trap, which the principal members of Odd Future don’t really rhyme over, and Mike turns in a couple solid verses that let you know what he’s about as a separate entity from the clique. It’s simple, but it’s a sound no one else in the crew really has, adding to Odd Future’s fluidity and range.
27. Pyramid Vritra – “224” (Feat. Huey Briss) (from 2014’s Palace EP)
Pyramid Vritra is one of the most underrated producers and MCs out right now. He was one of the early architects of Odd Future’s sound, along with Matt Martians, as one half of the production duo Super 3. His early solo work wasn’t much different than any LA beatsmith who was influenced by J Dilla and was aware of what Flying Lotus was brewing. Pyramid Vritra offered up a lot of celestial, digital synths and off-kilter drum-work without leaning heavily on sampling. Vritra has come a long way since his early daysm — in fact, he’s come full-circle it seems, signing with Stones Throw after developing an aesthetic that deftly mixes ambient sounds, banging drums, and swinging grooves. His rap skills have also improved, and he’s capable of pulling off some flawless verses. One such occasion is “224,” in which he spits an agile verse over a blipped-out, bouncy beat that’s smoothly infectious. PV gets slept on, but he’s making some solid, inventive hip-hop bops.
26. Tyler, The Creator – “IFHY” (from 2013’s Wolf)
Pharrell’s N.E.R.D. days were a big influence on Tyler, The Creator. Hence, half of Cherry Bomb sounds like an updated version of Fly Or Die mixed with some Seeing Sounds. As it turns out, Tyler and Pharrell can make some pretty good music together. “IFHY” is a rare vulnerable moment from Tyler. He’s still using violence and humor as defense mechanisms, but this song registers as his most raw and open. It shows that he has the versatility to make some kind of ballad and be serious at expressing emotion if he wants to, but he actively chooses not to. It hints at a more mature, subdued Tyler actually making music with feeling, without making fun of himself before others get a chance to. Some of the early shenanigans are embedded in Tyler’s persona still, but “kill people, burn shit, fuck school” can only be your mantra for so long.
25. Hodgy – “Barbell” (from 2016’s Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide)
Hodgy was the first Odd Future member to drop his own project, but he was known as Tyler’s sidekick until he proved himself a prolific rapper with untapped potential. His progressive leap from his first solo mixtape to his first with Left Brain as the duo MelloHype was hard to believe. He’s done nothing but improve since then, and his proper full-length debut, Fireplace:TheNotTheOtherSide, is his best album to date. It seems he worked hard to reinvent himself after thinking deeply about what his experience in Odd Future had earned him. As a result, the album is careful, introspective, and feels much wiser than you’d think possible from someone who was once under the tutelage of Tyler, The Creator. “Barbell” is the first look at a fully formed Hodgy, and it’s a soothing, beautiful bit of didacticism.