The Odd Future leader sends mixed messages on his best album so far.
CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT that Odd Future—those SoCal skate rats and potheads who were taken to task for homophobia six years ago—have secretly been the queerest uprising in the history of mainstream hip-hop. Frank Ocean shocked everyone by coming out on the eve of the release of his debut studio album, Channel Orange, and still topped the charts. Engineer Syd Bennett stepped out of her role as mixer and DJ and blossomed as the lead singer of soul band the Internet, where she writes songs about women with a warmth the sexaholics on urban radio lack. Steve Lacy, Bennett’s guitarist since 2015’s elegant Ego Death, has hinted that he’s bisexual but, like Frank, resists labeling his sexuality.
References on the new Tyler, the Creator album Flower Boy about same-sex romance (“I been kissing white boys since 2004,” he raps in “I Ain’t Got Time!”) have recast the Odd Future story in a new light. Was Tyler using his out friends as a shield to defend his use of gay slurs? Or did he have more in common with them than he cared to say? His bluesy dee youth, kid, thought it was a phase / Thought it’d be like the phrase ‘Poof! Gone’ / But it’s still going on.” Foggy fan theories immediately suggested Tyler was just joking— anything to sidestep the idea he might be lifting the veil on his own unspoken truth.
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August 7–20, 2017