Since 2008, Odd Future - whose teen and early-twentysomething members also include gifted avant-R&B smoothie Frank Ocean and slasher virtuoso Earl Sweatshirt (who, rumor has it, was shipped off to boarding school once his mom caught wind of his music) - have self-released buckets of free music online. The line on the crew is that they're punk-rappers, from their stripped-down production to Tyler's skate-rat uniform of cutoff shorts and scrawled-on Vans. But there's also serious savvy in their use of shock as a publicity generator, in the group's crudely Photoshopped promo fliers and in cartoonishly atavistic catchphrases like "Kill people, burn s**t, f**k school." "It's all a gimmick," Tyler says. The gimmick is working. Love from stars like Mos Def and Kanye West helped transform the crew from cult pets into a burgeoning phenomenon (Beyoncé brought Ocean into the studio to collaborate recently). In Austin, Tyler - whose solo album, Goblin, is due out on indie powerhouse XL Recordings this year - reaches his destination. "Nice talking to you," he says. "You're awesome. F**k you." Then he hangs up and tweets about how dumb the interview was.
Photo by Bryan Sheffield