In case you hadn’t noticed from the social media takeover (TRENDING TOPICS! ANIMATED GIFS! ALL CAPS EXCLAMATIONS!) that ensues whenever the Odd Future collective does anything at all, Odd Future released a new video last night. The clip for “Rella,” the lead single from their forthcoming OF Tape Vol. 2, owes a pretty heavy debt to Busta-era Hype Williams videos, particularly in regards to jittery visual rhythms and ridiculous wigs. But where Hype wisely let the chaotic pace alone provide the shock, “Rella” goes overboard with a slideshow of ugly, if playful, provocation: groin lasers that turn women into cats, slaps that turn black women into Asians, a centaur snorting a gigantic mound of cocaine, slow motion cellulite, tar black ejaculate, a nude eunuch … a lot of shit happens, and it all happens rather quickly.
Immediately following the video’s release, director and star Tyler, The Creator patted himself on the back for the accomplishment on Twitter: “Thats How You Direct A Video … Let Your Imagination Run Free.” That’s a nice sentiment, but a free imagination doesn’t necessarily have to jump around and shoot lasers out of its dick. It can be quiet and singular too. Tyler’s “Yonkers” video, which took place almost entirely on a stool (until it took place in a noose), was successful for that very reason. Any number of “Rella”’s visual ideas are strong enough that they could’ve been extended into a similarly incredible standalone video, but lumped together they’re just overwhelming. It’s a product of the same lack of self-editing that turned the very good album at the core of Tyler’s Goblin into an overlong mess.
Worse than that, the video serves to distract from Odd Future’s first legitimate act of subtlety in some time. Because, yes, there is a rap song attached to this vulgar display of imaginative excess, and it happens to be a pretty good one. It’s precisely the type of just-rap that Odd Future should’ve dropped at the height of all their hype to remind people that they are just as capable when it comes to making rap music as they are at making a scene. The hookless posse cut is a simple showcase for its three rappers: Hodgy Beats rasps his usual ricochet of wordplay, and the perpetually understated (and, thus, underrated) Domo Genesis has actually cranked up his energy level for once. Best of all, Tyler’s rapping like a rapper again, instead of the growling monster that consumed Goblin. If a nearly unwatchable video is a necessary byproduct of that growth, then so be it. An excess of imagination is better than the opposite.