*Explicit material ahead
You may not know who Tyler, the Creator is, but you will definitely recognize a song, show, video or logo that he produced. You will definitely know someone in his group, Odd Future, Golf Wang, Wolf Gang, or OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), such as Frank Ocean or Earl Sweatshirt, for example.
Tyler, the Creator isn’t just a rapper. He is a producer, writer, poet, actor, screenwriter, businessman, fashion designer, media mogul and director. He is a self-made artist who believes in self-expression and freedom and frequently encourages young listeners to express themselves while breaking the boundaries of external expectations.
He’s been producing since he was in high school with the same passion and blunt style. His style includes heavy profanity, vulgar language, mildly disturbing imagery, and offensive lyrics; however, as he states in several of his interviews, one chooses to be offended, so he shouldn’t have to alter his music to the comfort level of others.
He doesn’t apologize to anybody for anything that he says or does. As he puts it in his song “Radicals” from his 2011 album, “Goblin:”
“I ain’t never goin bow down to your expectations, by the way I got a pack of 60 wolves that will guard me.”
Because of Tyler’s artistic and original style, many people immediately shun his music, assume he is a Satanist based on his lyrics and music videos such as in his music video for “Yonkers” where his eyes were black and he ate a roach, threw up and then hanged himself, and immediately label all his fans as sick, weird and potential followers of Satan.
Critics of Tyler, the Creator and his music have said several things, such as he is irresponsible, his music is not entertaining, and he is just offensive and distasteful. They’ve said his message is not creative and that he’s just a racist, angry homophobe. Sara of the group Tegan and Sara discussed her dislike for the hype around Tyler, the Creator in a blog post titled “A Call for Change”: “In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook, and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its ‘brilliance’ when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?”
I completely understand how Sara, an open lesbian, or anybody else could be offended by Tyler’s music and the language he uses. Instead of focusing on the use of profanity and the possibly offensive lyrics he uses, listeners should focus on the actual message in the song and the story behind what Tyler is saying which is usually something about individualism, self-expression, and resistance to expectations of society.
In contrast to the mainstream radio rap songs by artists such as Fetty Wap, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan, that are full of the standard beats that begin to sound like the same song over and over again but with different lyrics and different levels of autotune, Tyler’s music is varied and fresh. Tyler is a musician. He doesn’t simply make beats and record “bars” over it. He creates music that includes different parts and layers. His music is textured and original. He includes strings, synths, piano, horns, and featured vocalists. His music doesn’t sound like rap, it sounds like a jazz-pop-indie-hip hop fusion with amazing lyrics over it.
His songs include encouraging lyrics targeted to young audiences, such as another excerpt from his song “Radicals: “I’m not saying to go out and do some stupid s***, commit crimes. What I’m trying to tell you is, do what the f*** you want.Stand for what the f*** you believe in, and don’t let nobody tell you can’t do what the f*** you want. I’m a f***ing unicorn, and f*** anybody who say I’m not. Wolf Gang.”
Although his music and productions offend people constantly, I admire the fact that he raps what he wants to rap about, and he produces what he wants to produce with no label director to answer to or a restrictive censoring agent. He is honest with himself and with his fans and I admire that, with everything he produces, he produces it only because he likes it and he thinks it’s good.
Finally, if you’re a lazy listener, then Tyler isn’t for you. Tyler’s albums are like books and each song is a chapter. A good book isn’t straightforward. It has foreshadowing, hidden details, inferences, and room for the reader to imagine what the writer meant. A good book has to be read once or twice, or you might have to read a section again just in case you missed something. Tyler’s music is the same thing.
You have to listen to his albums several times before you really understand everything he said, and even then he might have some hidden meaning behind a verse that you didn’t catch before. Once you finally piece it together, you’re so impressed.
If you’re not a lazy listener and you listen with the intent of understanding rather than just listening, then Tyler is perfect.