“Golf Wang! Golf Wang! Golf Wang!” chanted a hyperactive crowd of mostly white, teenage males. The room was sweltering and those who decided to remain fully clothed were perspiring visibly: White shirts became transparent, dark shirts darkened further. After the chanting receded, Tyler, the Creator—ringleader of the SoCal antihero hip-hop collective Odd Future—snarked, “That was cute,” in his usual growl.
Golf Wang, a dyslexic reversal of “Wolf Gang,” is one of the many iterations of Odd Future’s namesake. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, sometimes referred to as OFWGKTA, have been a subject of controversy for the past several years, causing a stir of both lyrical praise and condemnation, choosing to rap about rape, kidnapping and murder in the first-person. It’s nothing other rappers haven’t done, but the dexterity of their lyrical approach appeals especially to high school suburbia and urban underground scenes alike. You won’t be hearing Odd Future on Clear Channel—there’d be nothing but bleeps and angry phone calls.
Timeliness is certainly to their credit. The bill said music at 8, and Odd Future, perhaps among the few in the genre, started promptly thereafter. Most likely due to Clifton Park’s noise ordinance (or possibly the demands of the parents of those attending), the show was a short one and none were allowed to loiter after its 10 PM bedtime.
In what was more like a metal show than a rap show, Odd Future controlled their crowd like they were a troupe of grindcore frontmen, mosh pits included. Tyler took the lead, acting sheepish between takes but lively and animated mid-verse. When it wasn’t his turn, he sulked from member to member, strengthening their lines with his bark, a boldface type to their last rhyming syllables. And when he took the limelight, he crouched low and snarled at his audience, mocking them to their faces in his arm-twisting verses. He took time to laugh at Clifton Park’s overwhelming whiteness and even spat a few lines a cappella.
Certainly the strongest, most offensive rapper among those present (Earl Sweatshirt was disappointingly absent from the lineup, while Frank Ocean was enjoying his success elsewhere), Tyler often eclipsed his fellow OF associates, like smooth-voiced Mike G or jokesters Jasper and Hodgy Beats. Mike G’s revival of “Everything That’s Yours,” from their Radical mixtape, built beachy guitar layers into a cooled-off drum sample halfway through.
Oddly, the few scattered female audience members seemed to know every last X-rated word. They went especially nuts during Odd Future’s most misogynistic showcases, such as the indelible “Bitch Suck Dick” from Tyler’s Goblin. Whether irony has anything to do with it is a mystery, but the look of sheer enjoyment on most of these teenagers’ faces as we were shooed out means that we’re well past the mere acceptance of a darker type of humor and art, and are comfortable with (hopefully) fictional horror scenarios depicted in gruesome detail and memorized verbatim.