Tyler, the Creator
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Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, The Creator (8048745695) (cropped).jpg
Okonma in September 2012
Background information
Tyler Gregory Okonma
  • Ace the Creator
  • DJ Stank Daddy[1]
  • Tyler Haley
  • Wolf Haley
  • gap toof t
Born (1991-03-06) March 6, 1991 (age 27)
Ladera Heights, California, U.S.
Genres
  • Rapper
  • record producer
  • music video director
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • guitar
  • drums
2007-present
Labels
Website oddfuture.com

Tyler Gregory Okonma (born March 6, 1991), commonly known by his stage name Tyler, the Creator, is an American rapper, record producer, and music video director.[2][3][4][5] He rose to prominence as the co-founder and de facto leader of the alternative hip hop collective Odd Future, and has performed on and produced songs for nearly every Odd Future release.[6] Okonma has created all the artwork for the group's releases[2] and has also designed the group's clothing and other merchandise.[3]

Following a large contribution to Odd Future's early work, Okonma released his debut solo mixtape, Bastard, in 2009. After releasing his debut studio album, Goblin, under XL Recordings in April 2011, Okonma signed a joint venture deal for him and his label Odd Future Records, with RED Distribution and Sony Music Entertainment.[7] Following that, he released his second studio album, Wolf, which was met with generally positive reviews and debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 90,000 copies in its first week. His third studio album, Cherry Bomb, was released in 2015, debuting at number four on the US Billboard 200. It received positive criticial reviews but a polarizing reception from fans. In 2017, he released his fourth studio album, Flower Boy, to widespread acclaim. It debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, becoming his highest-charted album to date, and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

In 2011, Okonma started the clothing company Golf Wang. In 2012, he began hosting an annual music festival named the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival. He created his own streaming service app named Golf Media; it ran between 2015 to 2018 and contained original scripted series from Okonma himself and the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival was annually streamed on the service.[8]

Early life

Tyler Gregory Okonma[9] was born on March 6, 1991 in Ladera Heights, California,[2] the son of a Nigerian father of Igbo descent and a mother of mixed African-American and European-Canadian descent.[10][11] He never met his father[12] and spent his early life living in the communities of Ladera Heights and Hawthorne, California.[2][13]

At the age of seven, he would take the cover out of an album's case and create covers for his own imaginary albums--including a tracklist with song lengths--before he could even make music.[14] At the age of 14, he taught himself to play the piano.[15] In his twelve years of schooling, he attended twelve different schools in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas.[16]

He worked at FedEx for just under two weeks, and Starbucks for over two years.[17] Okonma took his stage name from a MySpace page he used to post his creative endeavors.[18]

Career

2007-11: Founding of Odd Future, Bastard and Goblin

Okonma in April 2011

Okonma co-founded the alternative hip hop collective Odd Future in 2007, alongside Hodgy, Left Brain and Casey Veggies. They self-released their debut mixtape, The Odd Future Tape, in November 2008. On December 25, 2009, Okonma self-released his first solo mixtape, Bastard. The mixtape was eventually ranked 32nd on Pitchfork Media's list of the Top Albums of 2010.[] On February 11, 2011, Okonma released the music video for "Yonkers", the first single from his debut studio album, Goblin, which was released May 10, 2011.[19] The video received attention from several online media outlets.[20][21][22][23] An extended version with a third verse was made available on iTunes.[24] Okonma won Best New Artist for "Yonkers" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.[25] Okonma's thematic content in these first two solo projects led fans and publications alike to categorize him in the horrorcore scene, although he vehemently rejected his connection with it.[26]

After the release of "Yonkers", Okonma announced that he had signed a one-album deal with British independent label XL Recordings.[27] Okonma and fellow Odd Future member Hodgy Beats made their television debut on February 16, 2011 when they performed "Sandwitches" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[28] On March 16, Okonma and Hodgy performed "Yonkers" and "Sandwitches" at the 2011 mtvU Woodie Awards, being joined by other members of Odd Future during "Sandwitches".[] During an interview with Okonma for Interview, Waka Flocka Flame expressed his interest in collaborating with the Odd Future frontman to direct a music video for him.[29] In early 2011, Okonma told fans through his Formspring account that his second album would be called Wolf and it was scheduled to be released in May 2012.[] Okonma also announced that Odd Future would establish their own TV show called Loiter Squad. On September 8, 2011 that the show was finally confirmed as a 15-minute live action show composed of various sketches, man on the street segments, pranks and music made by Odd Future. Dickhouse Productions, the production partnership that created Jackass, was scheduled to produce the show.[]

2012-14: Wolf and Loiter Squad TV show

Odd Future's television show Loiter Squad premiered on Adult Swim on March 25, 2012. The show ran for three seasons and featured guest appearances from celebrities, including Johnny Knoxville, Lil Wayne and Seth Rogen. In 2015, it Okonma stated that the show "is no more".[30] On February 14, 2013, Odd Future uploaded a video to their YouTube account, which includes L-Boy skydiving and stating that Wolf would be released on April 2, 2013. The same day, Okonma would reveal the three album covers via his Instagram account.[31]

Okonma and Earl Sweatshirt performing at the Pomona Fox Theater in 2013

In promotion of Wolf, Okonma performed several guest verses for other artists, notably "Trouble on My Mind" by GOOD Music artist Pusha T, "Martians vs. Goblins by Game (also featuring Lil Wayne), "I'ma Hata" by DJ Drama (also featuring Waka Flocka Flame and D-Bo), the title track from fellow Odd Future member Domo Genesis' collaboration album with The Alchemist, No Idols, and "Blossom & Burn" by Trash Talk (also featuring Hodgy Beats). Okonma also co-produced the song "666" from MellowHype's third album Numbers, which featured Mike G.[]

Through March and April 2013, Okonma toured North America and Europe.[31] The first single from the album was released on February 14, 2013, titled "Domo23" along with the music video which features cameos from Domo Genesis, Earl Sweatshirt, Jasper Dolphin and Taco Bennett.[32] On February 26, 2013, Okonma performed the songs "Domo23" and "Treehome95" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[33]

Wolf was released on April 2, 2013 by Odd Future Records and RED Distribution under Sony Music Entertainment. It featured guest appearances by Frank Ocean, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Earl Sweatshirt, Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Pharrell, Casey Veggies and Erykah Badu. The album was produced solely by Okonma, except for the final track "Lone". Along with the lead single "Domo23", music videos were filmed for "Bimmer", "IFHY" and "Jamba". Upon release, the album was met with generally positive reviews and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 90,000 copies in its first week.

On January 31, 2014, Okonma was reported to be recording with Mac DeMarco.[34]

2015-16: Cherry Bomb

On April 9, 2015, Okonma released the music video for the song "Fucking Young" to Odd Future's official YouTube channel. The video also included a short snippet of another song, "Deathcamp".[35] Okonma announced on the same day that the songs will be featured on his upcoming album Cherry Bomb, set for release on April 13, 2015.[36] Okonma announced via his Twitter account that the album would feature Charlie Wilson, Chaz Bundick and Black Lips member Cole Alexander.[37] Two days later, Okonma performed the songs "Fucking Young" and "Deathcamp" for the first time at Coachella. During the set, Okonma notably criticized VIP members in the audience, of which many were celebrities, for their lack of enthusiasm.[38]

Cherry Bomb was released digitally on April 13, 2015, through Odd Future Records,[39] with physical copies of the album, featuring five different album covers,[40] set to be released on April 28, 2015.[41][42] The album features performances from notable artists such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Schoolboy Q.[43][44] The album was supported by a world tour through North America, Europe and Asia, beginning at Coachella music festival on April 11, 2015 and ending in Tokyo, Japan in September 2015.[45] Okonma cancelled the Australian leg of his Cherry Bomb World Tour following a campaign by the grassroots organization Collective Shout against the portrayal of women in his music.[46]

On August 26, 2015, Okonma revealed that he had been banned from visiting the United Kingdom for three to five years, which forced him to cancel a string of tour dates supporting the Cherry Bomb album, including the Reading and Leeds Festivals. The reason for the ban comes from lyrics dating back to 2009. His manager Christian Clancy said they were informed of the ban via a letter from then-Home Secretary Theresa May.[47] May cited lyrics from the mixtape Bastard as the reason for the ban, although Okonma had toured multiple times in the UK since its release.[48][49] Okonma later claimed that he felt he had been treated "like a terrorist" and implied that the ban was racially motivated, stating that "they did not like the fact that their children were idolising a black man".[50]

2017-present: Flower Boy, new TV shows, and WANG$AP

On April 8, 2017, Frank Ocean released a song titled "Biking" on his Beats One radio station "blonded RADIO", which features both Tyler, the Creator and Jay Z. Eight days later it was announced Okonma would write, produce, and perform the theme song for scientist Bill Nye's new show, Bill Nye Saves the World.

On June 28, the trailer for Okonma's TV show Nuts + Bolts premiered on Viceland. The show focuses on things Tyler, the Creator finds interesting or is passionate about, and explains how they are created. The series premiered on August 3, 2017.[51]

On June 29, 2017, Okonma released the song "Who Dat Boy" featuring ASAP Rocky on a new YouTube channel, following many promotional countdown posts on his social media accounts. Later that night, he released the song on streaming services alongside a new song titled "911 / Mr. Lonely" featuring Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean, and Anna of the North. On July 6, 2017, he announced the title, tracklist and release date of his fourth album, Flower Boy,[52] which was released on July 21, 2017.[53] Several singles were released following up to the album's release date, including "Boredom" and "I Ain't Got Time!". The album was released via iTunes, Spotify, and other major music services. On September 14, 2017, Tyler, the Creator announced his third TV show to date, The Jellies. It premiered on October 22, 2017.[54]Flower Boy received rave reviews from critics and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, giving Tyler his second Grammy nomination after contributing to 2013 Album of the Year nominee Channel Orange, but was beat out by Kendrick Lamar's fourth studio album Damn.

On March 29, 2018, Okonma released "Okra",[55] amongst a string of freestyles and remixes. Okonma referred to it as a "throwaway song"[56], stating that it was not going to be included on any upcoming album, and was not an indication of the sound of any future projects.[57] On May 22, 2018, he released "435",[58] continuing this string of singles. On July 23, 2018, Okonma and ASAP Rocky announced a collaborative project, WANG$AP, by releasing a music video for a remix of Monica's "Knock Knock" named "Potato Salad" on "AWGE DVD (Vol. 3)", a video compilation by AWGE, ASAP Rocky's creative agency.[59]

Artistry

Okonma is widely considered to be the leader of Odd Future, and the group as a whole has been compared to the influential hip hop group Wu Tang Clan.[60] Since the beginning of his career, Okonma has largely self-produced songs for his projects and other Odd Future members. Over the years, his style of production has progressed from gritty and dark in early projects to a more jazzy and soulful approach with the albums Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy. His lyrical themes have also evolved from horrorcore-esque subjects to views on love, sexuality, existence and nostalgia. Musically, he has been heavily influenced by N.E.R.D and The Neptunes member Pharrell Williams. Williams' debut solo album In My Mind had a substantial impact on Okonma, inspiring him to co-found the Odd Future collective.[61] He has also cited N.E.R.D's debut album In Search of... as an impactful album for him.[62][63][64]

Controversies

Okonma has been criticized for his use of homophobic slurs, in particular, his frequent use of the epithet "faggot" in his lyrics and on Twitter.[65][66] He has denied accusations of homophobia, stating, "I'm not homophobic. I just say faggot and use gay as an adjective to describe stupid shit,"[67][68] and, "I'm not homophobic. I just think faggot hits and hurts people."[69] However, he later said in an interview with MTV about the slurs, "Well, I have gay fans and they don't really take it offensive, so I don't know. If it offends you, it offends you. If you call me a nigger, I really don't care, but that's just me, personally. Some people might take it the other way; I personally don't give a shit."[70][71] Despite making several remarks that have been taken as homophobic, Tyler, the Creator was among the first to openly support fellow Odd Future member Frank Ocean after publicly revealing a past relationship with another young man.[72]

Okonma has also been criticized for his graphic depictions of violence against women and his allegedly misogynistic lyrics.[73][74] Brent DiCrescenzo of Time Out Chicago writes that rape is a "predominant theme" of Goblin[75] and Hermione Hoby of The Guardian writes that Okonma's "rape and murder fantasies (are) graphic enough to send the vomit rising along with the bile."[76]The Fader tallied 68 uses of the term "bitch" over Goblins 73 minutes.[77] Responding to Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara's criticism of his lyrics,[78] Okonma tweeted: "If Tegan and Sara need some hard dick, hit me up!"[79]

On March 15, 2014, Okonma was arrested for inciting a riot after having shouted to fans to push their way past security guards at a sold-out show at the South by Southwest music festival.[80]

On August 26, 2015, Okonma revealed that he had been banned from visiting the United Kingdom for three to five years, which forced him to cancel a string of tour dates supporting the Cherry Bomb album, including the Reading and Leeds Festivals. The reason for the ban comes from lyrics dating back to 2009. His manager Christian Clancy said they were informed of the ban via a letter from then-Home Secretary Theresa May.[47] May cited lyrics from the mixtape Bastard as the reason for the ban, although Okonma had toured multiple times in the UK since its release.[48][81] Okonma later claimed that he felt he had been treated "like a terrorist" and implied that the ban was racially motivated, stating that "they did not like the fact that their children were idolising a black man".[50]

A series of three commercials for Mountain Dew directed by Okonma created controversy in May 2013, accused of using "racial stereotypes" and "making light of violence against women". In the spots an energy drink-loving goat character called "Felicia the Goat" is consecutively being "scapegoated" in a diner, in prison and on the road. During the 60-second ad in prison, a battered white woman on crutches examines a police line-up consisting of several African American men and one goat, while the goat antagonizes the woman. Syracuse professor and social critic Boyce Watkins stated that the ad was "arguably the most racist commercial in history". PepsiCo pulled the ad and apologized. Okonma released a statement claiming that the ad was not meant to "spark a controversy about race" and that "it was simply an, again, admittedly absurd story that was never meant to be taken seriously."[82][83]

Personal life

Okonma on his pink BMX in September 2012

Okonma has identified as an atheist and has had explicitly anti-religious lyrics in his music, especially on the albums Bastard and Goblin, and has also said some things that suggest he is an agnostic atheist.[84][85]

Okonma has a love for skateboards and bicycles.[86][87][88]

Lyrics on the album Flower Boy led to speculation that Okonma was coming out as gay. The tracks in question were "Foreword", "Garden Shed", and "I Ain't Got Time!"[89][90] Okonma further fuelled the discussion when he seemingly revealed in an August 2017 interview that he had a boyfriend when he was 15 years old,[91] though he later tweeted that it was a figure of speech.[92]

Discography

Mixtapes

Studio albums

Collaboration albums

Filmography

Television
Year Title Role Notes
2011-2013 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Himself 2011: Performed "Sandwitches" with Hodgy Beats
2013: Performed "Treehome95" with Coco O and "Domo23"
2011 When I Was 17
Workaholics Extra Episode: "Heist School"
Regular Show Blitz Comet
Big Trouble
Voice roles (Episode: "Rap It Up")
2012 Punk'd Himself 2 episodes; Season 9, Episodes 2 and 4[93]
Ridiculousness Season 2, Episode 10: Tyler, The Creator & Taco Bennett
The Mindy Project Rapper Season 1, Episode 10: Mindy's Brother
2012-2014 Loiter Squad Himself
2013 Late Show with David Letterman Performed "Rusty" with Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt
The Arsenio Hall Show
Axe Cop Liborg 2 episodes
2015 Black Dynamite Broto Season 2, episode 10: "The Wizard of Watts"
The Eric André Show Himself Season 3, episode 8: "Jimmy Kimmel; Tyler, the Creator"[94]
Tavis Smiley
2017 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Himself Performed "911"

As director

Music videos

Year Song Artist Notes
2010 "Bastard" Tyler, the Creator Credited as Wolf Haley
Co-directed by Taco Bennett
"French!" (featuring Hodgy Beats)
"VCR"
2011 "Yonkers" Credited as Wolf Haley
"She" (featuring Frank Ocean)
"Bitch Suck Dick" (featuring Jasper Dolphin & Taco)
2012 "Rella" Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis & Tyler, the Creator
"NY (Ned Flander)" Hodgy Beats & Tyler, the Creator
"Sam (Is Dead)" Domo Genesis & Tyler, the Creator
"F.E.B.N." Trash Talk
2013 "Domo 23/Bimmer" Tyler, the Creator
"Whoa" (featuring Tyler, the Creator) Earl Sweatshirt
"IFHY/Jamba" (featuring Pharrell and Hodgy Beats) Tyler, the Creator
"Tamale/Answer"
"Glowing" D.A. Wallach
2015 "Fucking Young/Deathcamp" Tyler, the Creator
2016 "Buffalo/Find Your Wings" (featuring Shane Powers, Roy Ayers, Syd, and Kali Uchis)
"Perfect" (featuring Kali Uchis and Austin Feinstein)
2017 "Who Dat Boy/911" (featuring A$AP Rocky)

Awards and nominations

Year Organization Award Result
2011 O Music Awards Most Outrageous Tweet Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards[95] Best New Artist Won
Video of the Year (Yonkers) Nominated
MTV2 Sucker Free Awards[96] Rookie of the Year Won
Must Follow Artist Won
2013 Grammy Awards Album of the Year (as featured artist on Channel Orange) Nominated
2014 MTVU Woodie Awards Performing Woodie[97] Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Art Direction (Tamale) Nominated
2015 MTV Video Music Awards Best Visual Effects (Fucking Young/Death Camp) Nominated
2018 Grammy Awards Best Rap Album (Flower Boy) Nominated

References

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