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Why Odd Future’s “Oldie” Is 2012’s Feel-Good Song Of The Year

Eight months later, the LA hip hop collective’s video still makes me smile.

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Few songs or videos make me as happy as "Oldie," the brilliant posse cut from the L.A. hip hop collective Odd Future. It might seem strange that one of the feel-good songs of the year would come from a group that first became known for surreal raps with lines referencing sexual violence, but even now, eight months after it premiered on the Odd Future YouTube channel, "Oldie" warms my heart. I feel awe for the kids' love and support of each other; pride that they done did it and built something entirely their own, becoming maybe the biggest DIY success story of the century thus far; and jealousy that, no matter what I happen to be doing at the moment, I’m not having nearly as much fun as they are here.

Clocking in at more than 10 minutes, and featuring verses from Tyler, Hodgy, Left Brain, Mike G, Domo, Frank, Jasper and Earl, “Oldie” is the group’s manifesto track, released a year after they burst into the mainstream spotlight, following a memorable Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performance. It's Earl's first time recording with the group since his year-plus stint at a Samoan therapeutic retreat – an "oldie" that throws back to the days when the crew was all together and they were just a bunch of kids messing around.

Here’s why the song and video continue to be utterly awesome:

Earl's getting used to prime time.

blogger.com / Via onomatopoeiaone.blogspot.com

The kid born Thebe Kgositsile missed a lot while he was gone, including his friends getting famous and touring the world. You can tell this photoshoot stuff is new to him: while the other MCs mug and pose for the camera, Earl's eyes are wide, his smile big and earnest. His verse is twice as long as anyone else's, and he seems to stumble or lose the thread a few times, but the rest of the Wolf Gang are there, urging him on, even holding his head to focus on the camera. By the end of his forty (!) bars, we see Earl start to loosen up and really hit his stride, and you can’t help but feel just a little bit proud.

Tyler’s complete disregard for the pervy Terry Richardson.

Via youtube.com

As the controversial photographer—who’s known for getting his subjects to take their clothes off—who’s tries to keep the kids in frame to take photos, Tyler brushes him off and tells OF video guy Lance Bangs, “You keep filming, f*** what they’re saying!” Odd Future 1, Terry 0.

Jasper Dolphin trying to rap.

Via youtube.com

“Hey, it’s Jasper / Not even a rapper," is how Mr. Dolphin, one of the group’s assorted class clowns and non-musical hypemen, starts off when it's his turn. In the video, he's got a sheepish grin on his face, and he peters out halfway through his allotted time. “I don’t know my verse!" he shouts. "I thought I did.” Oh, Jasper.

Frank Ocean gives us both calm and foreshadowing.

cdn.stereogum.com / Via stereogum.com

It’s always funny to see Frank, the breakout R&B crooner and resident old-head of OF (at 25, he's seven years older than Taco, the youngest member), hanging out with the over-the-top, rambunctious crew. When it's his turn at the mic, he checks his watch and casually sips what looks like an iced tea before starting his verse. When he hits the line "I'm hi and I'm bye / Wait, I mean I'm straight," you can see the other guys chuckle a little. Of course, as we learned a few months later, Frank actually is bisexual — something the hip hop community and media treated like a big deal, but which here, for the kids, doesn't even seem like an issue.

Tyler’s epic closing verse.

Via youtube.com

The Odd Future founder slows things down to walk fans through a mini-history of the group –"I was 15 when I first drew that donut / Five years later for our label, yeah we own it" – and admits the reality has exceeded any of his expectations. This closing verse is essentially the OFWKTA mission statement, cementing the crew as ringleaders of the new punk: a safe haven for kids who never quite felt like they quite fit in, "the ones who got called weird, fag, bitch, nerd / Cause you was into jazz, kitty cats and Steven Spielberg." (Even though, um, Tyler has called plenty of people fags.)

…it’s a reminder that music is supposed to be fun. It’s easy for rappers to get caught up in the game and to take themselves far too seriously, but these guys have proven that you can leave the egos at the door, work hard and create stuff with your friends, support each other, and have a blast doing it.

It's hard not to feel like Odd Future have figured out something the rest of us are still struggling with. Why not pursue your passions? Why not surround yourself with people who inspire you, who push you, who you can be yourself with? Why not have a blast doing the things you do, and not feel like you have to apologize for it?

Life’s short. Good for them.

Wolf gang!

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