2012: “Oldie” by Odd Future

50 Years of Hip-Hop

Dusty Henry revisits 2012 with the track “Oldie” by Odd Future. The posse cut led to the rise of one of the most influential groups of the last decade.


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Dusty Henry revisits 2012 with the track “Oldie” by Odd Future. The posse cut led to the rise of one of the most influential groups of the last decade. 

Written by Dusty Henry.

Audio production by Roddy Nikpour. 

Support the podcast: kexp.org/50hiphop 

Read a transcript below.

There’s a timeless appeal to music that pisses off or even scares your parents. Hair metal acts like Twisted Sister leaned into it like a badge of honor. 

I personally remember my grandfather telling me not to listen to a quote-unquote “loser” like Kurt Cobain with all his dark, depressing lyrics.

Meanwhile, the entire GENRE of gangsta rap had people so riled up that it led to a U.S. Senate hearing in 1994. They called out artists like Snoop Dogg and Tupac.

And, of course, I’d be remiss not to mention Eminem. A rapper who didn’t just draw controversy, he actively welcomed it. 

Heading into the early 2010s, the mantle of controversy was picked up by a group of young kids out of Los Angeles. They called themselves Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Or “Odd Future,” for short. 

Odd Future is a collective — groups of musicians coming together under common musical ideas and ethos. Check out our episode on Soulquarians from a few weeks back for a refresher. When it comes to Odd Future, though, they didn’t come together united by smooth sounds of soul and R&B. Odd Future leaned way more toward the attitude of punk. 

The group came together in 2007 as a conglomerate of rappers, producers, skaters, clothing designers, and filmmakers — their ambitions stretched far beyond just rap. Over 20 different people have been affiliated with Odd Future. Some big names include Earl Sweatshirt… 

Frank Ocean 

Casey Veggies.

Syd, aka Syd the Kid. She also fronted the band The Internet which included guitarist Steve Lacy. 

And of course, Tyler The Creator. 

Tyler is the de facto leader of the group, and he’s often people’s gateway to Odd Future.. The collective’s first few years included a steady stream of mixtapes, which built a devoted cult following. Then came the 2010 release of Tyler’s Goblin and the single “Yonkers” — those releases became a lightning rod for recognition. 

The lyrics were vicious, offensive, and bloodthirsty. Tyler raps about wanting to stab Bruno Mars in the throat and uses homophobic slurs. In the music video, he famously eats a cockroach before hanging himself. It was a surprising, viral hit that kicked off the next decade of Odd Future dominance. 

Their Odd Future group tours were chaotic and buzzed about affairs. They combined a commanding performance with the venom of hardcore punk shows, full of stage dives and mosh pits. 
As time went on, it became clear that Odd Future were less like the Soulquarians and more like another landmark L.A. group – N.W.A. 

Both Odd Future and N.W.A. were magnets for controversy and were vital outlets for angst and anger. But also both groups became launching pads for the careers of their respective members. 

In 2015, Odd Future were banned from performing in the UK for their violent and homophobic lyrics. That’s just one instance of them being banned from performing at different festivals and countries. Remember, it’s all about controversy, so if anything, this only attracted more fans. The group even got their own TV variety show on Adult Swim, Loiter Squad

By the mid-2010s, Odd Future is effectively on indefinite hiatus. Their members still collaborate, but for the most part they operate in their own lanes exploring new directions. Frank Ocean’s gone on to become one of the most celebrated songwriters of his generation. 

Earl Sweatshirt’s craft has only sharpened, becoming a hallmark of modern underground hip-hop. 

And Tyler is a full-on superstar at this point, going through multiple reinventions and Grammy-winning albums. Where your mom may have been scared of “Yonkers” you might now catch her singing along to tracks like “EARFQUAKE.”. 

Looking back at Odd Future’s legacy, there’s one track in particular that captures them at the top of their powers – a 2012 posse cut called “Oldie,” the final track from their final group mixtape. 

Over a sparse, ominous beat produced by Tyler himself, it’s the last time we hear the bulk of the members together. The group’s DJ and resident fashion designer Taco opens the song with shout-outs to the group. 

Tyler kicks things off with some dexterous wordplay 

Everyone gets a chance on the mic with killer verses from lesser celebrated members like Mike G, Left Brain, and Domo Genesis. Frank Ocean comes in with a rare rap verse… 

Even Jasper, a founding member but notably not a rapper, gets his moment in the spotlight. 

And of course, bringing us home is Earl Sweatshirt, who was one of the best up-and-coming rappers of his generation. 

Listening to “Oldie” now feels like looking through an old yearbook. It deserves its own Animal House “where are they now” montage. When “Oldie” dropped, it was thrilling to hear such an ambitious collaboration of all these artists at the height of their craft. It feels like a historical document. 

Odd Future welcomed controversy. Tyler has not recanted the homophobic lyrics that drew so much criticism in his early career, except to call out the hypocrisy of other artists not being treated as harshly with bans and the racial dynamics at play. In recent years, he’s opened up more about his own sexuality in interviews. He referred to himself as gay in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone. and on his celebrated fourth album Flower Boy

Still, Tyler and Odd Futurre opened the doors for a new wave of artists. Odd Future went from a DIY group of skate-punk rappers to dominating the charts and influencing the direction of pop culture. Who knows if we’ll see another Odd Future mixtape. Even if we don’t, though, we can always look back to “Oldie” as a big bang moment for everything that came out after them in the 2010s. 

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