A skinny black kid with a reversed cross on his forehead and both eyes blacked out—America’s first impression of rapper Tyler, the Creator. The inglorious teen burst into mainstream media in 2011 with his hit album, Goblin, a bittersweet project spearheaded by its infamous single; “Yonkers.” It won him Best New Artist at that year’s VMA’s. Thanks to macabre acts like swallowing a live roach and performing his very own suicide on-screen, America hasn’t been able to keep their eyes off his curious act ever since; and, between his eccentric persona and Wiz-high threshold of his blockbuster discography’s, he doesn’t look like dropping the ball anytime soon. He’s not going anywhere, so we may as well learn a little bit more about what The Creator has done to craft his reign.
At the ambitious age of 15, the basement rapper had an astounding vision: a pink donut. The donut represented the creative collective he forged further down his teenage years, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (aka Odd Future aka OFWGKTA). The group’s heinous live acts gained enough notoriety to put them on the map. Their brand garnered a strong following, not only from suburban kids native to the west coast but from youths all over the world drawn to their carefree antics and deep lyrics. The OF saga revitalized the fun element of hip-hop and their unorthodox style captured the hearts of a younger generation of mavericks. The team’s punk skateboard lifestyle changed the game, as epitomized by everyone’s unwavering obsession with Supreme, the brand Young T and co. have advertised since their inception. Delving into the fashion industry early, Tyler’s merch did numbers and amassed a cult-like following among both hardcore and casual fans.
He matched his breakout album with Wolf, his second studio LP. This was his coming-of-age masterpiece that ditched the overly aggressive (and highly controversial) sounds and lyrics from Goblin in order to pursue more melodious decorum. The switch-up might have been unexpected, but the feedback was overwhelmingly positive from fans and critics alike. This LP showcased Tylers’ directorial visions, scoring the likes of Sam is Dead, Tamale and Domo 23, among others. Within the timeframe, Odd Future’s show, Loiter Squad, ran on Adult Swim and it was every bit as entertaining as this Coachella foot race between Tyler and Kanye.
With the commercial rise of the collective spliced with Frank Ocean’s initiation into the group, the expectations were sky-high and pressure was “harder than a motherfucking Flintstone;” however, all good things are susceptible to downfall, including OF. The group’s unofficial split in 2015 forced Tyler to take on the lone-wolf role. It may have been a blessing in disguise for the Los Angeles artist, developing the unstoppable force of his authentic one-man show.
Cherry Bomb, an experimental project, dropped right before the heat of summer ’15. It demonstrated unhindered artistic expression to make the best amalgam of music Tyler has ever put out. The fusion of multiple genres and sounds was displayed in full with the production team doing a great job slicing them up like pizza to carve out what Tyler has labelled his magnum opus. He recorded the process of its creation in this wavy documentary featuring A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and more. It’s a must-see.
Leading the line of young creatives, Tyler has since invented the Golf Fashion Show, using its first runway to debut unreleased songs off the archives of Golf Radio. 2017 has also seen the gapped tooth rap icon revamp his claim of being one of the hottest MC’s around with fuego features alongside A$AP Rocky and the recent release of his new stamp on the musical scene; Flower Boy.
Along the spectrum of Tyler’s content lies a wide array of artistic themes spanning from horrorcore to slapstick comedies. His versatility across media and arts grants him an unbridled creative freedom over his sounds, visuals, production and clothing. The man throws his own carnivals for God’s sake.