Believe it or not, we're already a half-decade into the Odd Future era. While their first mixtape dropped in late 2008, it wasn't until the 2010 one-two punch of Earl Sweatshirt's “Earl” and Tyler, the Creator's “French” videos that a viral phenomenon was born. But unlike most hip-hop blog darlings, Odd Future built their success upon a very real-life movement, a solid foundation that allowed each of the crew's diverse talents to absolutely thrive.
The past month has brought us outstanding new albums from both Tyler and Earl, both strong enough to affirm that all that hype five years ago was entirely warranted. In fact, the whole crew has been pretty consistent from the jump. In celebration of that, we've ranked all 19 Odd Future albums, from the (relatively speaking) worst to the best.
Before we begin, a few rules. First, since this is a list of albums, the group's EPs, mixtapes and fan-made singles collections were not counted. Granted a lot of great work was on these releases, especially the Radical mixtape, which was critical and essential to their development. (For the record, had we included it, it would have ranked seventh.)
Second, some of the first wave of Odd Future releases that have since been recategorized as mixtapes are on the list. Since they (Earl, Rolling Papers, Ali) were first received as albums, we're treating them as such.
Finally, these are the albums as they were originally released, with later alterations, bonus tracks on iTunes, and special editions not included..
kill people, burn shit, fuck school begin.
19. Mellowhype – Numbers
The duo's first physical release that hadn't debuted digitally, Numbers just didn't resonate as much their other output, both as a group and as Hodgy and Left Brain.
18. The Jet Age of Tomorrow – Journey to the 5th Echelon
Odd Future fans were somewhat blindsided by the debut release of The Jet Age of Tomorrow aka Pyramid Vritra and Matt Martians, when their largely instrumental debut release Journey to the 5th Echelon dropped in early 2011. But at a time when the group’s refreshingly obnoxious vulgarity was getting the most attention, 5th Echelon offered some chill grooves to provide a balance and hint at the diversity the Odd Future catalog would continue to show.
17. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Fans really didn't know what to expect from the first Earl Sweatshirt album since his return from boarding school. While his writing was still sharp and the return was welcome, compared to the other two albums that bookend Doris, his vision for the project just isn't as clearly defined.
16. The Internet – Purple Naked Ladies
Jet Age of Tomorrow’s Matt Martians and Syd the Kid, Odd Future’s in-house engineer and DJ, raised eyebrows with the announcement of their project The Internet in late 2011. The first physical release on Odd Future Records, Purple Naked Ladies had some killer soundscapes, but ultimately its most exciting element was the future potential it showed.
15. The Jet Age of Tomorrow – Jellyfish Mentality
The growth of The Jet Age of Tomorrow could be attributed to how much both members had worked in the years between releases, making Jellyfish Mentality much more tightly packed and eclectic than its predecessor. A wider variety of grooves and contributions from MCs outside of Odd Future gives the project a unique place in their canon.
14. Odd Future – The O.F. Tape Vol. 2
While it ends with “Oldie,” one of the group's most entertaining party songs and a mandatory inclusion on any Odd Future playlist, the crew was developing so many unique styles on The O.F. Tape Vol. 2 that it detracts from the unified-front quality that makes the best Odd Future releases so exciting.
13. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
Goblin had the unfortunate task of being the crew's first release backed by an outside label, XL Recordings. While it has stellar moments like “Yonkers,” in the rush to ride the crew's momentum, it came off sounding more like a second draft of Tyler's Bastard than the highly anticipated next stage of his development.
12. Domo Genesis – Rolling Papers
Plenty of Odd Future fans consider Domo's affable, stoner style to be their favorite. A track like “Super Market” on Rolling Papers could only happen on a Domo album, and we're all the better for having it.
11. Mellowhype – YelloWhite
Whether Odd Future as a crew had come together or not, the duo of Left Brain and Hodgy Beats just click to a point where their success seems inevitable. YelloWhite is s strong start to their partnership and, coming on the heels of Tyler's Bastard, helped set the tone for the crew’s output to come.
10. The Internet – Feel Good
Everything great about The Internet’s debut Purple Naked Ladies is increased tenfold here. From the songwriting to the production to the vocals, Feel Good is everything a sophomore album should be. It’s a great example of easily identifiable influences resulting in something that nevertheless sounds one of a kind.
9. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf
It wouldn't be far-fetched to call Wolf the album some Tyler fans were hoping for following Bastard. Branching off into adulthood, Tyler's abilities as a songwriter and producer progressed to the point of making Wolf one of the most vividly cinematic releases in the Odd Future catalog.
8. MellowHigh – MellowHigh
With Mellowhype’s Left Brain and Hodgy Beats already such a strongly defined unit, and Domo Genesis having one of the most recognizable styles in the crew, MellowHigh arrived as an excellent best-of-both-worlds release. Domo’s relaxed stoner affability and Hodgy’s edgy cynicism played off each other well, especially in Left Brain’s perfectly assembled soundscapes, which play to both of their strengths.
7. Tyler, the Creator – Bastard
In the over-produced, post-Auto-Tune haze of the late '00s, when it seemed rappers weren't interested in rapping anymore, Bastard sounded like the product of applied teen angst, created in a vacuum that refreshingly wasn't trying to be overtly glossy or forcibly lo-fi. A strong, hungry statement, it became the blueprint for a generation of ambitious, underground rap outsiders.
6. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
We're still digesting Earl's latest project, so it could very well move up in our rankings. It benefits from Earl handling the bulk of the production, with brooding vibes that perfectly match his soft-spoken flow and effortlessly intricate wordplay.
5. Mike G – Ali
The most underrated member of Odd Future, Mike G's presence in the group makes his reserved coolness, in contrast to his crew's chaos, all the more compelling. Ali is an outstanding album in any way you measure a quality rap record, and sounds just as ahead of its time today as it did in 2010.
4. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
The standard favorite of “I hate all Odd Future albums except…” listeners, Channel Orange is an undeniable record. Poignant without sacrificing its cool, with a diverse set of moods and grooves, its excellence is impregnable.
3. Tyler, the Creator – Cherry Bomb
The primary criticism of Tyler's latest, Cherry Bomb, is that his Neptunes influences are too overt. But what these criticisms overlook is that Cherry Bomb is the best N*E*R*D album that N*E*R*D never made. Tyler's made no secret of his love for Pharrell and Chad, but there's much more to Cherry Bomb than just Tyler's fandom. He's never been a better rapper, and makes excellent use of his resources as someone who's already a young industry vet. The fact that Tyler's style hangs perfectly between Kanye West and Lil Wayne shows how much he's arrived.
2. Earl Sweatshirt – Earl
Perhaps the strongest single concentrated collection of technical rapping this decade, Earl cemented Earl Sweatshirt's reputation as the most promising rap prodigy since, well, rap’s Prodigy. At an age where most are struggling with awkwardness, Earl’s wordplay is nothing short of masterful. Closer “Stapleton” is a new masterpiece and perhaps the strongest single song in the crew’s catalog.
1. MellowHype – BlackendWhite
Released on Halloween 2010 as Odd Future was first gaining momentum, Mellowhype’s Blackenwhite captured the “cartoon violence” and “teen angst” elements of the group everyone within three feet of a keyboard was typing about, and perfected them to absolute art. There are seriously silly moments and irreverent moments of seriousness, all with perhaps the most cohesive production in the crew’s discography. Anything you've ever loved about Odd Future is at an all-time high on Blackendwhite.
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