The Commercial Genius of Tyler, The Creator and Odd Future

Jackson Leeds

There are many striking lyrics on Tyler, The Creator’s new album “Wolf,” but perhaps none is more all-encompassing of his career thus far than this one: “I ate one roach and made a lot of money,” the Odd Future kingpin proudly proclaims on “Wolf” standout “Domo 23.”

Tyler is referring to the video for his breakthrough hit “Yonkers,” in which the barely-legal rapper eats a roach and hangs himself. The actions have nothing to do with Tyler’s actual personality; they are nothing more than an act, something performed to gain attention. The video, now almost two years old, serves as a thesis statement for the Odd Future collective, as it embodies their ironic, satanic, and ever entertaining approach to traditional hip hop.

The fans at an Odd Future concert last fall, most of whom are between 16 and 25 years old, were some of the most loyal one would hope to see at an event. Most of them knew every word of each song the group performed, a testament to their witty, ignorant lyrics. These were songs about death, drugs, skipping school and family issues, but everyone was singing along with a huge smile on their face, like it was the best moment of their lives. The way Odd Future commands a crowd is one of the more impressive things one might see at a concert, as the mosh pit they create can prove truly unpleasant.

It is not just that people enjoy Odd Future’s music. For many of the kids at this concert, especially those with braces and skateboarding shoes, Tyler is someone who they want to be. He strikes them as a leader, someone who doesn’t care about the rest of the world. More than that, he is someone who does what he wants, 100 percent of the time. In an era where role models are becoming increasingly hard to come by, Tyler has filled a niche and turned disgruntled teenagers into an enthusiastic fan base.

On his new album, Tyler seems to have found a promising new sound. Tyler himself was the main producer of his album and all of the tracks are complex blends of offbeat lyrics and solid production, typical of Odd Future releases. Much of what Tyler says on this album could be considered part of his marketing scheme, as crude and absurd lyrics run rampant throughout the hour length album to draw listeners and controversy.

On opener “Wolf,” Tyler begins with pleasant piano music, then proceeds to verbally assault listeners with curse words. This leads into standout track “Jamba,” in which Tyler flows impressively about subject matter which is unquotable. Here, the lyrics feel like the main course.

That is not to say that this isn’t an album for music lovers. Sonically, the album is so varied that it is nearly impossible to characterize. Some of the beats are dark, while others are happy or neutral, allowing Tyler to shine through.

Tyler has been successfully marketing Odd Future products via online and pop-up shops in places like Los Angles and New York. The selling of merchandise is central to the goal of the collective, since it allows their iconography to circulate like propaganda. Much of the merchandise they made sold out immediately, and now they sell more clothes than the average clothing company without a doubt.

“Wolf” is a solid second album; even fans who were expecting a lot from this release won’t be disappointed. Tyler can be a bit hard to decipher, especially on this album, but that’s hardly an issue after multiple listens. Grab a copy and check it out.