TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HOMOPHOBIA
I'm sure we've all heard a few songs on Tyler The Creator's most popular albums Flower Boy and Igor, and I personally am a big fan of everything Tyler has ever put out, but many of us don't know much about his controversial past. Before we talk about that, I'm going to give you some background on Tyler.
Tyler Okonma was born in California on March 6, 1991. By the time he was about 16 years old, Tyler and his friends started a music group called Odd Future, short for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. You might recognize their logo, the OF donut, on a few tee-shirts from the past. A few of the most notable members of Odd Future would be Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and Casey Veggies (the singer of Tied Up, a popular song on Musical.ly you might remember from your childhood.)
Since then, Odd Future has ended, but almost every member has started their own solo careers. Tyler has collaborated with Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, Rex Orange County, Estelle, and the list goes on. Tyler is an idol to so many, but if you're not too interested in his past, you might not know about his controversial history with vulgar lyrics. Arguably one of his most talked about "problematic" song would be Tron Cat. It consists of lyrics like
"I'm not a rapper nor a r*pist nor a racist
I f*ck b*tches with no permission and tend to hate shit."
He contradicts himself by saying he's never assaulted anyone, he just doesn't have consent to do these sexual acts.
Another crude lyric is "R*pe a pregnant b*tch and tell my friends I had a threesome." Now were these lyrics ever okay? Absolutely not. Tyler was playing a character, which was made to offend people. He also used the word f*g, a common slur used against gay people. The justification for that one is the fact that Tyler himself is LGBT and despite his lyrics hinting at this, it was never officially confirmed until Tyler himself came out to the world due to the pressure of people calling him homophobic.
These lyrics caught the attention of many and Tyler grew more popular by the second. He was more than Odd Future, he was now Tyler, The Creator: a man known for creating storylines that took you to different worlds. He's arguably the greatest rap story teller since Eminem. You may have heard of his festival called Camp Flog Gnaw. In Tyler's studio album "Wolf", the story takes place in Camp Flog Gnaw. (Flow Gnaw spelling Golf Wang backwards, the name of Tyler's clothing company.) Camp Flog Gnaw is said to be some sort of therapy or asylum for the mentally ill. In this, we meet different characters who sing the grotesque lyrics Tyler writes. Therefore, Tyler isn't calling himself a r*pist, he's telling a story that involves a mentally ill r*pist who has no filter what so ever.
Since then, Tyler has calmed down with his lyrics and created two new studio albums, Flower Boy and Igor. Flower Boy was released in 2017 and Igor was released just last year in May. These albums have reached the indie community, where as his older music was targeted towards people who enjoy hardcore lyrics rapped over catchy beats. Flower Boy and Igor have a lot less "rap" in them and are considered more poppy or even "R&B". Tyler won an award this year for best rap album and he himself has even said something along the lines of "I won best rap album because I'm black, but Igor isn't even rap." Every album has a different sound. Every album tells a different story. This is what Tyler fans love about his music. He feeds us different fantasies for us to be taken to.
So is Tyler, The Creator nearly as offensive as he used to be? Absolutely not, but I think it's important to remember his roots and what exactly brought him to fame.