"To the GZA, I've always been young as fuck," says Berru, who's 27 and about to join Odd Future on the road. "But to these guys, I'm old as fuck — Tyler insists that I'm 35. . . . But I've been on tour with a lot of crazy personalities — I work with Wu-Tang — so I'll be able to handle what's about to go down in the coming weeks. These guys are wild as fuck, but they're also hard workers, and extremely proud of what they're doing." He adds, "I'm glad that I can be here doing this with them, even if I am kind of like their weird uncle."
Berru worked for free until February — when Tyler signed a solo album deal with the UK indie powerhouse XL — but the hardest part was over. He'd created an animal. Or at least let a wild pack of them loose on the world. The rest, as they're saying, is the future.
Two days before Odd Future's Boston debut at the Paradise next week, Tyler drops his first official album, Goblin. After that, Mike G says most projects are likely to come under the group's own umbrella imprint, Odd Future Records. Whatever the method, the legend powering them is growing at a ludicrous speed, and controversy surrounding the crew's violent rhymes is only piquing curiosity — the latest press storm is over their being tapped to play Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival in June. Some residents are wary about hosting a group that their local NPR affiliate call "hip-hop's most notorious lyrical misogynists " — this despite the presence of Syd, who at age 19 is already the most prominent female producer in the history of hip-hop.
Of course, lines like "fuck her in a Hummer while I rape her then I put her in a slumber" aren't all that separate Odd Future from the pack. Fans are drawn to their raw eccentricity, and, above all, to their explicit authenticity.
"It's not just the controversy that got them to this point," says Berru, who now works as the group's paid publicist and occasional muse. "People love this because it's young and off the hook. All of this came from beats and lyrics, and from their building an empire all on their own. But most of all, they're not trying to sugarcoat anything, and people appreciate that."
Odd Future wasn't bred in an incubator. Nor is their ascent and mainstream notoriety only a result of their relentless social networking. The group's success so far comes from synthesizing all of their trademark ingredients, and from having teammates like Berru, who knew how to package Odd Future and push them to the right audience.
"People can write and say whatever they want about us," says Mike G, who will follow up his recent free mixtape, Ali, this June with an EP titled Award Tour, and with an album titled Gold after that. "None of it means shit. Music is what we do, and it's what we're going to keep doing until we feel like stopping. . . We're the Odd Future Wolf Gang — we're not trying to be anybody else. Kill them all. See if we care."
Follow Chris Faraone on Twitter @FARA1