On Monday night, Tyler, the Creator of Odd Future took a break from live-tweeting his attempts “to take a photo of [his] fart” to lash out at cook and poker enthusiast Steve Albini. The rapper was defending himself against Albini’s claims that, on a shuttle bus leaving the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona in May, Odd Future used the word “n—a” frequently, cursed the bus driver, and bragged about how much they’d been paid at the festival.
Albini is also a noted musician and record producer (which is why Tyler felt the “need” to respond) whose recording studio Electrical Audio has a vibrant web forum (its members have even gathered for festivals). Albini’s beef with Odd Future, which in sum has more to do with them being punk kids (or as he put it, “little self-satisfied a—–e scrubs”) than anything else, was actually a series of posts in a thread on the Electrical Audio subforum “Crap/Not Crap,” in which its members give up-or-down votes on a given topic and then give reasons why.
A number of the gear-minded rock fans in the forum’s community dismiss rap outright, which is why Albini makes pains not to characterize the collective as stupid or untalented, and given Albini’s recording and production history it’s unsurprising that he defends their right to make “ugly art” even as he decries their behavior.
That said, here are Albini’s charges:
The Lonely Island‘s Turtleneck and Chain came closest, at #3, but none of this past week’s album releases posed a real challenge to the continued chart dominance of Adele. Her 21 is #1 for the eighth of its twelve weeks on the chart, thanks in part to the continued success of “Rolling in the Deep,” which itself finally hit #1 on the Hot 100 last week after 17 weeks climbing the chart. Not even Lady Gaga‘s “Edge of Glory” (in at #2) could topple it this week. In its second chart week, Now 38 also outsold Turtleneck and Chain. Christina Perri‘s and Tyler, the Creator‘s debut LPs round out the top five.
Aside from the one-two punch of Adele and Lady Gaga, the top of the singles chart is mostly full of songs that have peaked but remain popular (excepting Pitbull‘s “Give Me Everything” and the Black Eyed Peas‘ “Just Can’t Get Enough”). And the two women are likely to continue to battle for the top of the chart, especially once Born This Way is released. So the bump in digital sales that has temporarily boosted the industry is largely due to the success of female artists, as Chris Molanphy explained last week for the Village Voice‘s Sound of the City blog.
The often misogynistic, homophobic combativeness of rap collective Odd Future continues to vex critics and artists alike. On Friday afternoon, Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara harshly castigated those who would praise Tyler, the Creator and/or misogynistic/homophobic music in general. Her short manifesto hints at a breadth and depth of thought on the subject of problematic art, as well as her own history in the music industry, though she unpacks little of what she suggests. She is particularly (and not necessarily unfairly) critical of what she sees as hypocrisy in the indie rock community (which, as Dr. Wendy Fonarow has argued, esteems itself as particularly forward-thinking): “The more I think about it, the more I think people don?t actually want to go up against this particular bully because he?s popular. Who sticks up for women and gay people now? It seems entirely uncool to do so in the indie rock world, and I?ll argue that point with ANYONE.” She also touches on issues that often get elided in these communities?those of race and of class (although her essay’s oblique implications about Odd Future’s class standing are belied by their fairly suburban upbringing).
Raphael Saadiq, Christina Perri, and the Cars all released records this week, but for many teenage music fans, only one new record is worth talking about: Goblin by Tyler, the Creator, the relatively unknown rapper who’s the best of a pack of SoCal skater kids (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) making deliberately confrontational music because they think it’s funny. The group’s famous fans include Adele and Mos Def. And they’ll happily call out those who aren’t paying attention: on his single “Yonkers,” Tyler claims he’ll “stab Bruno Mars in his g**damn esophagus,” prompting the You Oughta Know favorite to quip to Spin that he “has to wait in line if he wants to stab me.” All this attention has led some to question the shock value of the sometimes-violent rhymes, especially on the subjects of women and homosexuality.