What to Think of Odd Future’s Homophobia After Frank Ocean’s Coming Out

In the early hours of July 4th, Odd Future member Frank Ocean came out on his personal blog with the story about falling in love with a man four summers ago. His bravery was met with positive reactions from the hip-hop community, including Russell Simmons, who lauded the young singer-songwriter for his honesty. He also received a nice response from Odd Future frontman (I suppose?) Tyler, the Creator, who posted on Twitter, "My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. I’m A Toilet." A very emphatic statement!

Days later, of course, it has become time to spark a discussion about what this means for Tyler, the Creator. The rapper, as well as the Odd Future collective as a whole, came under much scrutiny last year for their misogynist and homophobic lyrics, which were often coupled with violent rhetoric. (This is where I come clean and admit that I’ve never taken much time to listen to any of Odd Future’s various members’ music except for Frank Ocean.) It’s particularly unsettling as Frank Ocean has come out (as what, that is, is unclear, as he has not specified if he identifies as gay or bisexual), and considering Odd Future producer and DJ Syd tha Kid is a lesbian.

So, is it fair to call Odd Future a homophobic rap collective? Tyler, the Creator claims he is not homophobic at all:

Chatting to a fan on social media website Formspring, he wrote: "hahaha yeah, ive know for a while, he told me a long time ago. it was just funny cause i was getting bashed as a homophobe or whatever and i kept saying dude how am i one? i have gay friends like what the fuck leave me alone haha. yeah thats my nigga tho, shit is hard for him but he did that."

To be clear, Tyler was labeled a homophobe for his repeated use of various gay slurs on his debut album, Goblin—231 times, to be exact

Former BlackBook editor and current Observer writer Foster Kamer posits, via his personal Tumblr,  that Tyler’s frequent use of "faggot" and its variants do not, inherently, make him a homophobic artist, nor does it mean one can toss the same criticism to Odd Future as a whole:

Besides all of the wonderful things that will come out of Frank Ocean’s “outing” himself—or whathaveyou—the idea that labeling Odd Future as a homophobic collective just became more complex and frustrating to people who are fans of oversimplifying complex issues as a matter of making an argument (but really: jumping onto whatever outrage bandwagon is getting “liked” on Tumblr more than others on any particular week) is also a particularly delightful one. The world needs more nuance. It needs to frustrate our most simple thinkers (who have the loudest, angriest voices, as is often the case). And those people should be upset more often, and more often they should be upset by evolving realities like this one: That, in the entirety of rap—or hip hop as a culture—Odd Future has had the most success commensurate with the fact that their DJ is a gay woman, and their most arguably famous member is a bisexual man, while also being one of the most maligned groups for their ostensibly homophobic and misogynistic music. That’s a reality worth savoring.

It’s an interesting and complex thought, for sure, but I’m not sure I buy it. Tyler, the Creator can now claim that he’s not homophobic—two of his best friends and colleagues are not straight!—but that sort of claim is, as we all know, bullshit. That’s a very definitive response that any non-straight person can make. As a gay man who grew up in a rural town in Virginia, there’s a lot of my personal life that I do not share with friends and family back home. I’m certainly out and open, and most people know about it and accept it! But that doesn’t mean I don’t get incredibly uncomfortable when I am around people who casually make homophobic remarks. (And don’t get me started on the casual racism, because oof.)

Basically, intolerance runs deep, and it’s not always a blatant thing. But I know that even if one of my very close friends was expressing him or herself with homophobic language, I would feel uncomfortable and hurt, mostly because I make it my beeswax to not be around people who toss around "faggot." So, in the end, if Odd Future members continue to do so, I (and plenty of other people) will continue to combat it with the word "homophobic." In all honestly, I get the vibe that Tyler, the Creator likes the attention that comes from being aggressive—he is a performer, after all, and getting attention is his job. But there’s no need for the hateful and violent language, and considering that two members of Odd Future—a minority, for certain—do not identiy as straight… Well, that is certainly a complicated problem, isn’t it?

Sleigh Bells’ Derek Miller Dissects ‘Reign of Terror’

Derek Miller is opening up. The XY chromosome of the blitzkrieg guitar duo Sleigh Bells claims to have difficulty spilling his guts, but for the band’s sophomore release — February’s bluntly-named, arena-rocksized breakup record, Reign of Terror (which is — he’s finally letting it all out. “I hate to get into the details of it,” he explains over a recent phone call from Brooklyn, “but it was not pretty. This record was sort of my way to deal with that nightmare.”

During the conversation, he remains cagey about the nature of his crisis, so decoding Reign of Terror might be your best way into the heart of Miller’s darkness. Recorded last summer at a Manhattan studio, Miller and his bandmate, vocalist Alexis Krauss, spent more time collaborating on Terror than on their 2010 debut Treats. (Krauss and Miller hadn’t yet met when he wrote the material.) And whereas that record was built to start parties, Reign of Terror wears its heart on its tattered sleeve. Here, Miller opens up about the ingredients — emotional, but especially musical — that went into each track on the no-holds-barred album. “A lot of people are nervous about owning up to this stuff,” he laughed. “I kind of like it.”

“True Shred Guitar.” I’m super into first impressions and this — with the arena crowd noise and Alexis screaming at them — is such a brass, arrogant, tasteless way to start a record. But also, it’s supposed to be humorous. You’ve got to split the difference. In that way, it’s okay. We don’t come off like assholes. It just seemed called for.

“Born to Lose.” Writing this, I was remembering the first time I heard double bass, which was on Metallica’s “Blackened.” I was thirteen and on vacation with my family in Key West. I went into a record store — when they still existed — and bought …And Justice for All. We had a Jeep Cherokee. I sat in the front seat when everyone was inside somewhere, and just listened. The double bass started shaking the rear-view mirror. It was vibrating. My head was exploding.

“Crush.” There’s a guitar solo on this track indebted to [Queen guitarist] Brian May. We’re massive Queen fans, as if you didn’t know that from hearing all the bleacher stomps. It’s borderline homage. Jazz is by far my favorite Queen record, and was endlessly inspiring. For the stomps, we had a ton of people meet us at this high school in Brooklyn, Benjamin Banneker High, where they have these super-old rickety wooden bleachers, and we had fifty of our friends show up. We mic’d the place up and sat there for four hours, making our own samples. I felt like I was getting away with murder.

“End of the Line.” This one was very much my song. Lyrically, quite possibly the darkest I’ve ever written. I remember writing it at a couple of very, very low points. We were listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins as we made this record.

“Leader of the Pack.” This one has sort of a Phil Spector/Brill Building thing going on. The chords are really old. That little bell intro thing, which sounds very twee? We just laughed and started the song with that. I’m still trying to figure that one out, whether or not I like it. They fall in and out of favor, these songs. That one, I need more time with.

“Comeback Kid.” This was the last song we did. We had two days left, I had a bunch of power chords sitting around — which is all this track really is — finished the instrumental, and sort of handed it over to Alexis, like, What do you got? She listened for five minutes and had the entire track. It was an exciting moment. I let her have her way with it. It’s fair to say I’m ripping off Kurt Cobain slightly with this one. In the video for this song, I had to wear a Nirvana shirt as an admission of guilt. The intro to “In Bloom,” the strum pattern and everything? I definitely lifted that.

“Demons.” Definitely the most aggressive track on the record. I was listening to a lot of Pantera at the time. Lots of Black Sabbath and Def Leppard as well. Are you familiar with the Steve Perry song, “Oh Sherrie”? You know, “Oh, Sherrie, I’m in love!” There’s that unison-bend guitar part: RAWN RAWN RAWN, RAWN RAWN, RAWWWN! I straight up went to that for this song. In terms of the energy or the volume and aggression of the album, it’s at its peak here.

“Road to Hell.” I was listening to “As Tears Go By” — the Rolling Stones version, not the Marianne Faithfull one. There’s an ascending chord progression throughout the entire song. It’s just up and up and up, and… Know what? I just fucked this one up, man. I’m unhappy with the clean guitar sound. My favorite part about this one’s at the beginning. I sampled an M16 gunshot. I had this strange obsession with M16s dating back to when I was really, really young.

“You Lost Me.” There were a lot of classic references that went into this song. It’s safe to say I was listening to a lot of Van Halen. I’m a massive Def Leppard fan. Hysteria is easily one of my favorite records of all time. Lyrically, this is one of the few songs I’ve ever written that actually has a real narrative. It’s not about any two people specifically, but it’s about a double suicide. A young couple who ended up committing suicide behind a Circle K. Imagine a couple in Florida, but maybe even the Midwest, and you’re the only two people in your school that listen to Metallica in 1985. You sort of bond over that, and that you have nothing in common with anybody else. It’s a youthful ignorance, a very romantic notion. It just ended up happening. Alexis and I started talking about it, and stumbled on this story. It felt like this was what the song was about.

“Never Say Die.” My favorite song on the record. You know The Goonies? I ended up lifting bits of the lyrics from Mikey’s speech at the bottom of the well, including the title: “Goonies never say die.” I also really liked sticking my favorite song second-to last. It’s traditionally such a throwaway slot on a record.

“D.O.A.” When I came up with the title, we were going to start the record with this song, which was possibly supposed to be a statement, and would’ve been a really bad idea. Statements are a really bad idea. I don’t know what else to say about it. As a piece of music, it just really makes my ears happy.

Photo by Patrick O’Dell

Hot Chip Remixes & Remasters Denim

Jeans, still wet with yellow paint, are tacked onto a gray canvas, which is tacked onto a wall on the sprawling top floor of EMI’s downtown Manhattan headquarters. Hot Chip’s Al Doyle, already quite lanky, sits on the edge of a chair struggling to cross 12-foot prosthetic legs, while bandmates Joe Goddard and Owen Clarke cradle his cardboard ankles to keep his shoes from slipping off. “We found, like, a big cardboard pole,” says lead singer Alexis Taylor, not quite sure how to explain the inspiration for the temporary installation he and his band have just created. The four electro-pop musicians (the fifth, Felix Martin, is back in their native London) begin to laugh at the silliness of it all. But, as is also the case with their musical approach, they’re game for just about anything.

Since the release of their debut album, 2005’s Coming on Strong, the boys of Hot Chip have consistently churned out big-hearted electro ballads with a distinctive, keyboard-driven beat. Their fourth studio album, One Life Stand, reaches for something more holistic: “We’ve always found it difficult to produce a record that sounds like it was made in one stretch,” Taylor says, while encasing his art project in a green border made from denim. “With this one, we somehow managed to get beyond that.”

One Life Stand is out now on Astralwerks.

Photography by Reynard Li. Grooming by Stephanie Flor for Artists by Timothy Priano.

iFidelity: iPhone App Reviews

Corcoran: The powerhouse real estate group makes one of the most difficult things about living in a competitive real estate market — finding a new apartment or condo — much, much easier. A simple, user-friendly interface allows squatters to comb through regularly updated rental and sales listings, complete with each agent’s contact info, in New York, the Hamptons and South Florida. It also lets you get a sense of the neighborhood and discover the coolest bars, restaurants and shops around each property. So if the mood strikes, you can drop in on an open house, land a $5 million penthouse and then find the perfect lunch spot to celebrate securing your new digs.

IMDb: The Internet Movie Database has long been the go-to site for anyone completing that fifth degree of Kevin Bacon, or trying to answer a don’t tell me, I know this one, this is gonna kill me-type question about the silver screen. The IMDb app doesn’t have any new features, but it does allow users to navigate the site’s contents with a few button clicks, which is essential for movie geeks, amateurs and those desperate for conversation starters.

Kayak: Kayak is a shopping comparison engine for all things travel: hotels, car rentals, airfares, vacation packages and so on. It uses information from a considerable number of websites — not just carriers or rental services, but also other pricing aggregators like Orbitz and Expedia — and compares their deals. Looking for a place to crash after a long night out in South Beach? One button. Need to call your airline to cancel a trip home, keep the credit and snag a low fare to the beach? Another button. Plus, $2 gains access to the “First Class” version of this app, which, aptly, searches out first and business-class fares.

Lose It!: Instead of sinking in a swamp of iDetritus, this app — a calorie counter made simple — has somehow separated itself from the pack. Lose It! sheds the more convoluted math of calorie counting, keeping things light by focusing on what you ate, how much of it you ate and how much you can continue to eat to reach your specified weight goal. Hey, it’s either this or taping thinspirational photos of the Olsen twins to your fridge.

Hipstamatic: Yes, it’s yet another photography app, and yes, it has the word “hip” in it. But clichés aside, Hipstamatic allows shutterbugs to create some pretty incredible shots, which can be distorted using several “analog” camera effects. Buy additional treatments at the in-app store — separate lenses, flashes or films, different ways to “develop” your pictures — and capture Kodak moments without Kodak or the blurriness often associated with the iPhone.

USPS Mobile: Despite providing one of the best deals in America — you can send something across the country for less than a dollar — the United States Postal Service has had to contend with dwindling envelope-lickers since the advent of e-mail. To keep up with the times, USPS has released a great iPhone app that tracks parcels from your phone, locates nearby offices and mailboxes and looks up zip codes with its user-friendly interface — all so we don’t have to go, well, postal.

Star Wars: Trench Run: Long before the world’s population devolved into Avatards, people were nuts over some guy in an X-wing blazing through another galaxy, far, far away. The Star Wars: Trench Run app — which puts players in Luke Skywalker’s seat for the climactic space battle from the original Star Wars — is a throwback to simpler times of old-school arcade fun and Jedi fever. Use the iPhone’s accelerometer to steer your aircraft, take down Imperial Forces and save the universe before you miss your train stop.

Lightspeed Champion Remixes & Remasters Denim

Should we open up a window, yeah?” Devonté Hynes asks, giggling. Known to music fans by his stagename, Lightspeed Champion, the 24-year-old Brooklyn-based Brit aims a loaded spray-paint can squarely at a pair of cutoff jeans. Once part of the short-lived dance-punk trio Test Icicles,Hynes went solo in 2006. (He said of the split, “We were never, ever that keen on the music.”) Since his 2008 debut as Lightspeed, a high-concept baroque pop album titled Falling off the Lavender Bridge (a project he is rather keen on), Hynes has collaborated with the Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Florence + The Machine, the British Film Institute and even an X-Factor finalist.

This month’s Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You is a 15-track rock opus filled with complex orchestral arrangements. It’s an ambitious, sweeping album, as engrossing as it is bittersweet. That’s all well and good, but Hynes is already on to the next thing. “I just recorded a demo for another song in my bathroom last night until my friends made me leave the apartment to go out,” Hynes says, laughing. “I just can’t seem to get away from making music. I suppose there are worse problems to have.”

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Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You is out now on Domino.

Photography by Alexander Wagner. Kayla Michelle.

Yeasayer Remixes and Remasters Denim

“This is the ugliest boho dress ever,” says Chris Keating, lead singer of Brooklyn based trio Yeasayer, holding up what resembles a handwoven, wind-battered flag. “We didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing,” adds guitarist and co-vocalist Anand Wilder, who shrugs before taking off his shirt and trying on the flag, which, when unfurled, looks more like a tattered apron. Over mason jars of tequila and beer, bassist Ira Wolf Tuton chimes in, “It’s like something Orphan Annie might wear.”

Two years after the release of their first record, 2007’s All Hour Cymbals, these three slaphappy late-twentysomethings are back with Odd Blood. And while their debut floored critics with its unexpected mixing of prog-rock, Afrobeat, East Asian and other world music, their second has loftier ambitions: to make people dance. “We wanted to do something a little more pop, a little more physical,” says Wilder. “The last album was more ethereal.” Odd Blood brings energy and circulation back to the once-vital, now-atrophied muscles of rock with rhythm. From complex drum-and-bass anthems like “Ambling Alp,” to the disco-driven desires of “Love Me Girl,” Yeasayer sounds excited and virile, ready for any challenge, even if that includes the mess of art supplies on the floor in front of them.

Odd Blood is out now on Secretly Canadian/We Are Free.

(Clockwise from top right) Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder

Anand Likes Freddy’s Bar and Backroom (NYC)

Links: Jay-Z’s Spice Girls Moment; Mitt Romney’s G-Unit Jump-In

● Hugh Jackman is going to break out into song, in Chinese, in an upcoming role. Those involved in the cottage industry that pirated early copies of Wolverine are going through an intensely “meta” phase of their lives right now. [AP] ● Jay-Z recently thanked the Spice Girls at an awards show. Rumors that he’ll debut his new single “99 (Post-Modern) Problems” at Webster Hall tonight are unconfirmed, but smart money says you’ll regret not going. [Rap Radar] ● The guy from the B-52’s whose war cry of “ROCK LOBSTAH!” is back with a new single, about having hams thrown at him. While the American Civil Liberties Union will no doubt come out in support of your ability to throw hams at the “ROCK LABSTAH!” guy, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was unavailable for comment. []

● Conan O’Brien’s going to be participating in some kind of live show he’ll be taking on the road. Imagine his disappointment when he gets rescheduled to make way for the Harlem Globetrotters Reunion Tour, tentatively titled “Alley-Oops, Sucka.” [The Wrap] ● Some “rapper” calling himself “Sky Blu” has claimed to have been assaulted by Mitt Romney, who is currently in the process of getting his G-Unit membership certified, part of which involves ridding the world of rappers less ridiculous than themselves. [ANIMAL NY]

Links: Hole Becomes Whole Again; Women Aren’t Getting Laid; Telephone Pop

● Courtney Love and the rest of Hole jammed together for the first time in over ten years. A rise in huff-able drugs would not be completely unexpected. [Spin] ● Skinny Kelly Osbourne is dressing like Fred Flintstone. Her father still sounds like he has prehistoric rocks in his mouth when he speaks. It works, kind of. [The Sun] ● Women aren’t getting laid because the men they typically get laid by are sick of them. Better than sick by by them, right? [Gawker]

American Idol was finally beaten in the ratings war. How does it feel to be bested by a twirling stoner on plexiglass nicknamed “The Flying Tomato,” Simon Cowell? Kinda pitchy, dawg. [Business Insider] ● A list of the ten most culturally relevant telephones. Somehow, Colin Farrell’s Phone Booth didn’t make the list. But yes, The Duck Phone of Jersey Shore did. Naturally. [Flavorwire] ● Hipster Runoff contemplates the most “Important Bro in the Music Biz” that is somehow, unbelievably, not Hipster Runoff. [Hipster Runoff]

Links: Gaga Fails to Make Esquire’s ‘Best Dressed’; Your Vagina’s Talking; Long Duk Dong, Remembered

Esquire‘s list of the Best Dressed Men of All Time failed to include Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga Penis Conspiracy Theorists everywhere cry foul. [Esquire] ● Your vagina has things to say. Well, someone else’s vagina has things to say. And that vagina thinks your vagina should listen to it talk about your vagina and vaginae everywhere, and what everyone’s respective vaginae has to say to their respective owners. [Crushable] ● Axl Rose took time out of his busy schedule to un-invite people who weren’t going to show up to his concerts in the first place. Paradise City, Population: Axl Rose. [Village Voice]

● John Hughes will get a tribute to his work at this year’s Oscars; tragically, the kid who plays Long Duk Dong is not scheduled to appear. Yet. [Deadline Hollywood Daily] ● Snooki from Jersey Shore is being “evolved” by society (our words, but either way: yes) as she has confessed to reading her first book. It is not Goodnight Moon, but it is also not Gravity’s Rainbow. Can you guess what she’s reading? Also, suggestions for other Snooki-ready literature. We suggest she moves towards the great French thinkers: Madeline, then Camus. The joke is that she’s a dumbass. [Guest of a Guest] ● This dog and Taylor Swift are basically twins, down to the pitchy howl and everything. Even the whole “underdog” complex. Seriously. Because it’s a dog. [TinyPic]