Editor shares opinion on Tyler, the Creator

It’s a bit weird to me that I’m always met with astonished looks as I walk down the hallways sporting my neon-feline Odd Future t-shirt. These looks are usually coupled with “Will! I didn’t know you liked Tyler, the Creator,” or “Why are you wearing that?” Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m not the typical demographic Tyler, the Creator’s music appeals to, but regardless, I listen to him because he is quite possibly the most important rapper and lyricist of the 21st century.

Tyler, the Creator is a Los Angeles, Calif. native who is most famous–or infamous–for being the frontman and mastermind behind the rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Quite a mouthful, I know; this is why it is often shortened to ‘Odd Future’ or just ‘Tyler, the Creator’ when referring to the group’s music. With his music only recently achieving marginal financial success despite a large cult following, Tyler’s critics often argue that his music is vulgar, baseless and has no artistic merit whatsoever.

If we look at the more broad spectrum of music in the 21st century–particularly the rap or hip-hop genre–we’ve seen various artists make profits off seemingly the same ‘vulgar’ and ‘baseless’ lyrical content. I don’t need to give examples here; it’s not hard to find a popular rap song that talks about sex, drugs and the acquisition of currency while simultaneously disregarding people of a female disposition. Now, looking at Tyler’s lyrics, we see what some critics have described as being “horrorcore”. Basically, this is described as being a subgenre of rap music where the lyrical content centers around horrific images and storylines with “slasher” themes. Oftentimes Tyler’s songs revolve around such taboo topics and murder, rape and suicidal tendencies.

On a very basic level, this would be enough proof for any discerning grandmother to shriek in horror at the lyrical content of his music, but I tend to see it differently. Tyler is a master of words, particularly in the imagery department. His lyrics create cacophonous, dark images in our mind that takes us to an extremely scary place where we want to curl up in a ball and die. On top of this, he may not be the fastest rapper alive, but he spits out lines that belong on the Wiki page for such literary devices as consonance, assonance, alliteration and mind-rhymes. What separates Tyler from other rappers is the literary merit that resides within his songs. He doesn’t use AB rhymes often, and that in itself makes for a more interesting listen than Mac Miller or Drake. I haven’t felt as though an artist so accurately paints a picture in my mind’s eye using intensely clever wordplay since Bob Dylan with songs like “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Aside from lyrical content, the most interesting part of Tyler’s music and career is that he is very postmodern in the way he presents his art. Tyler’s music is very obviously aware that it is music, and he often alludes to lines that were just said in the following lines. His most popular album “Goblin” features much of this “self-awareness.” The record follows the fictional dialogues between Tyler and his booming-voiced therapist Dr. TC (first heard on Tyler’s “Bastard” album) as they discuss Tyler’s overall mental well-being after becoming at least marginally successful with his previous album. Although many artists rap about being famous and negative effects of such (see: Eminem), never before has a rapper gone so far as to be brutally honest about the way people see his music, and how he himself feels about his music. The album opens up with the title track in which the first lines states that ‘he isn’t a role model’, and that “you guys caught me: I’m not a [bleep] rapist or a serial killer,” openly disregarding the claims that his music is influential in teaching kids patterns of violent sex crimes and murder. The song follows his story from rags to quasi-riches, and continues to discuss the common misconception that Tyler is a delusional psychopath, where he claims that “it’s not like no one has these dark thoughts when alone if their room.”

Because of Tyler, the Creator’s self-awareness and lyrical mastery, he has proved to be one of the most important artists of this century. You may not like his music because it makes you sick to your stomach because of the controversial material, but in the same way that watching all of the Saw movies in one night will leave you sleepless for a week. Henry Miller took a risk when trying to get Tropic of Cancer published because of its high sexual content, so why should it be any different for Tyler? He shouldn’t be punished or criticised for his “horror movie” lyrical content; he’s just infinitely more creative than any of the other over-produced rappers that MTV pumps out every 2 months, and happens to be taking risks with his art. That is something to be respected.