This rare Tyler, the Creator book from when he was a teenager is cool as hell
feat. young Frank Ocean, Syd, Earl Sweatshirt & others
Nick Weidenfeld has been making cool shit for TV for years — as Adult Swim’s head of development, he helped put on Tim & Eric and Rick and Morty; he created his own animation studio, ADHD, which put out great cult series like Lucas Bros. Moving Co.; he also headed up programming at VICELAND and was an executive producer with Ezra Koenig on Netflix’s Neo Yokio, which is BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE’S ~no. 4 TV show of all time in a tie with 1986 BBC Michael Gambon vehicle The Singing Detective. And just last week Nick rolled out a brand new animation label called Work Friends.
Even more impressive than any of that?? Nick 1) wears cool clothes and 2) is a producer on Ezra’s Beats 1 show Time Crisis, where we served up some rare intel the other day regarding our highly classified Rage Against the Machine merch exposé — you can listen to the episode here.
The cover of Nick’s signed copy of GOLF WANG, and the title page
During some L.A.-area recon last year we breezed thru Nick’s house and spotted a book called GOLF WANG that he helped create back in 2011 with photographer Michael Schmelling and Tyler, the Creator. Published in a limited run and long since out of print, GOLF WANG is full of photos shot by Tyler along with his friends & fellow Odd Future members back when they were teens.
The book captures a fascinating moment in the life of a kid on the verge of becoming a major pop-cultural force, not to mention a fascinating period in contemporary Black L.A. cultural history, too — a young Frank Ocean shows up on one page; pro skateboarder & mid-’90s star Na-kel Smith shows up babyfaced on another; Syd from the Internet and Dave co-star Travis “Taco” Bennett are all over the place, too.
Since BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE is the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” on dope under-the-radar joints, and since the GOLF WANG book is a dope under-the-radar joint if we ever saw one, we recently hit up Nick to tell us more about it.
Blackbird Spyplane: How’d you first link up with Tyler?
Nick: “I saw the music video he made for ‘French,’ and I was like, this is the new Jackass, the new Wu-Tang, the new Pharcyde, whatever you want to call it. From the way Tyler looked to how he rapped to how he shot that video, this was someone with a fully realized vision — and he was really funny, too.
“So I went to his Tumblr and saw that Odd Future were gonna play their first-ever show, at Low End Theory. I went and it was amazing. Afterwards I went up to him cold and said, ‘I work at Adult Swim, I’d love to talk if there’s ever anything you want to do.’ He was already an Adult Swim fan, and eventually we started talking about what a TV show might look like. I introduced him to Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze and the Dickhouse Productions guys, who’d made Jackass, and we made this sketch show called Loiter Squad. I knew Tyler was special and I knew Odd Future were gonna be big, but I still had to fight to get that show made, because they weren’t what they are now.”
Young Frank Ocean & a tiny slice of pizza
Spyplane: How did this book come about?
“I put it together with my friend Michael Schmelling, who’s a brilliant photographer and graphic designer — it basically documents the birth of Odd Future through photos of Tyler and his friends that they took themselves, starting from the time they were in, like, early high school. They’d all been shooting photos of their crew hanging out at their houses, skating on Fairfax. They actually shot everything on film and took it to CVS to process it — they cared about shooting on film, which was really interesting since at the same time they were uploading all this music digitally. The back of the book is Tyler’s receipt from the CVS photo lab.
“So Tyler showed me these photos and I told Michael, ‘We should collect them and cull them and put them together in a way that tells a story, so there’s a real object that documents this period of time, because I think Tyler’s gonna be a huge deal and he’s gonna wish there was something that captured this moment. It was like, This deserves to take up physical space and exist in a meaningful way rather than get lost on the internet.”
Left: Tyler’s earliest tweets on the inside flap; right, a CVS photo-developing receipt on the back of the book
Spyplane: It’s cool to see young Frank Ocean in here, especially since he’s become so elusive.
Nick: “Frank is in it, Earl Sweatshirt’s only in it twice, because he was in Samoa for most of this period, Taco, Syd, Lucas Vercetti, tons of skate stuff… I also got all of Tyler’s art he made when he was 15, 16 so we put some of that in. But my favorite thing is that the inside flaps are just Tyler’s tweets, starting from his first tweet ever, which was ‘WILL LEAK A SONG IF SOMEONE CAN GET ME A PHYSICAL COPY OF POOTIE TANG.’”
Spyplane: How hard was it for ppl to get this book?
Nick: “We made maybe 2,000 copies with this publisher PictureBox, who told me it might be the rarest book they’ve made. You could buy it through, like, art-book stores, but we did a launch party at Family Books on Fairfax, which is a great shop, and 7 hours before it started kids were lining up. It’s a space that holds like 40 people and 1,000 kids showed up. Just for a signing, no music. At the end Tyler was hanging from the rafters, pile driving the plastic-tables from the signing. It cost $29 but it sells for way more than that now.”
Flyer for the book launch, left; Frank Ocean, right, shot by Michael Schmelling at the launch party, holding a personally inscribed copy: “Nostalgia Ultra Sucked Fuck You — Tyler”
“Looking at it now, the vibe in this book is, ‘This is all gonna change, so let’s document the moment right it before it all changes.’ Schmelling gave it a very loose chronological order, so at first you see a couple friends taking photos of themselves, parts of their bodies, skating, hanging out alone in bedrooms, then there’s a music-video shoot, now there are small crowds, and now we’re in a hotel room, and now maybe we’re in Amsterdam and now there’s a photo they took in the green room at Jimmy Fallon. It’s beautiful. For my part of it, there’s only a few times in your life when you’re able to help someone that talented at that young of an age — maybe that’s why this book’s so important to me.”
-Nick’s on Twitter and Instagram
-Tyler’s on Instagram and so is Michael Schmelling, here
-It’s Fuck Amazon for Life here at BBSP HQ but there are a few copies of GOLF WANG available on Abe Books, here, ranging from ~ $100 to $230.
-Dope super early Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All t-shirt asking $500 (!!) here.
-Very cool deadstock Frank Ocean tee from the Channel Orange tour here.