(Okay, so it’s more like five minutes.)
Tyler, the Creator, is addressing his fans – currently queuing around Brixton’s Academy – from a dressing room window. As soon as he leans out, over the street, plaster-cast arm dangling (he punched a friend – hard, evidently), a horde of camera phones shoot upwards. Girls scream; guys try to look tough. That many are wearing the lurid merch of Odd Future doesn’t do them many favours. This is remarkably close to the clips of Beatlemania we’ve all seen dozens of times; only it’s unfolding right here, right now, for a group whose lyrics include the to-the-point motif of “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school”. (You know they don’t mean it, yeah? Good, good.)
In a few hours, the assembled sold-out crowd – roughly 50/50 gangly lads and short-shorted girls, pre-doors, and largely aged between 14 and 18 (do these kids’ parents know where they are?) – will mosh it up to rap music delivered with a punk intensity, its assorted makers here to promote their OF Tape Vol. 2 (BBC review here). Tyler is the youthful LA crew’s ostensible leader – the main producer, and so far the one true breakout solo star with the XL-released Goblin under his belt; although the older (and rather smoother of soulful croon) Frank Ocean seems set to exceed his standalone successes. I’m meant to be interviewing him for a BBC Music piece, an Album Reviews Q&A. But we don’t get enough time to get anywhere near enough covered for that kind of piece – so here is the transcript from the five minutes I spent trying to get the man (at 21, he’s just about old enough to drink back home) to focus on answering a few questions. Window closed, recorder rolling…
It’s pretty hectic down there.
No, it’s not. That doesn’t count as hectic at all.
I heard you just did Newsnight… (video, below)
Nope. Well, yeah, and that was tight. That might be one of the greatest interviews they’ve ever had, but they’re not gonna use it because they’re some fuckin’ conservative fuck-asses. I’m a wild bitch.
Okay, so let’s cut to the chase, to the Tape…
I want you to sit on me…
Um… so, The OF Tape. I guess it’s nice to be touring with everyone, the whole Odd Future crew, rather than flying solo?
Oh hell yeah, it’s wild. It’s cool… but I’m not gonna lie, I already wanna go home, and eat a fat burger at Roscoe’s.
But you’ve not been in Europe long…
We got here two days ago.
I guess everyone experiences ups and downs when away from home – one minute you miss home, the next you’re glad to be away from it.
Yeah… I like New York a lot. London is like New York – it’s crowded, and there are a lot of one-way streets.
So how long did the OF Tape take to come together? There are a lot of tracks, a lot of voices…
We found time to do it – but I don’t know exactly how long it took. Everyone was working in their own time, so sometimes we’d all be in there together, and sometimes not. I don’t know how to explain it.
So are there tracks where two or three vocalists were never in the same room, at the same time, for that song?
Oh, no. Me and Frank (Ocean) were both there when we did our song; but Hodgy (Beats) wasn’t, because he wasn’t on that song. But then he was there without us to do his tracks. It was that sorta deal. When I did songs with other people, they were there, for sure.
This is a ‘proper’ release, as in I can pick it up in HMV. So is this an album, or a mixtape? As the first OF Tape was a free release…
Well, I’ve never considered the first OF Tape (Wikipedia) a mixtape. I consider it to be an album, as it’s all original productions. I treat everything like an album, expect for the real mixtape, the Radical mixtape (Wikipedia). I don’t know what people consider a mixtape these days – the OF Tape is a tape, not a mixtape.
Do you worry that people will take the ‘Tape’ releases less seriously than a ‘real’ album, due to the way they’re titled? Perhaps they’ll wonder: when is a ‘real’ album coming out?
Yeah, it’s pretty stupid. Someone asked me just recently when I was gonna have a new album out, the day after this new OF Tape came out. I was like, are you fucking serious? People can be stupid. It’s pretty retarded, cos they were at an album-release event, so they can’t ask that question.
Naturally, though, you’re still attracting fans, who might not be up to speed with the Odd Future ‘lore’, if you will, with all the releases…
It’s cool, as everybody starts somewhere. I can’t be mad at anyone for listening now, if they haven’t before.
And you’re addressing a very young audience – I mean, those really are kids queuing outside. Is that empowering, that your audience spans ages.
Our audience is a bit weird, as I see everyone from 14-year-olds to 40-year-olds. Seeing a 40-year-old getting wild in a pit, that’s something.
And there’s a real split, between guys and girls.
A lot of girls be coming to our shows and not giving a fuck… those girls are crazy.
(And it’s here that we’re wrapped up. Thanks for running over, Newsnight. Watch the video for Oldie, The OF Tape Vol.2’s closer, below.)