Tyler, the Creator
Okonma in September 2012
|Birth name||Tyler Gregory Okonma|
|Also known as|
|Born||March 6, 1991|
Ladera Heights, California, U.S.
Tyler Gregory Okonma (born March 6, 1991), better known as Tyler, the Creator, is an American rapper, musician, songwriter, producer, actor, visual artist, designer and comedian. He rose to prominence in the early 2010s as the co-founder and de facto leader of alternative hip hop group Odd Future and has performed on and produced songs for nearly every Odd Future release.
Following a large contribution to Odd Future's early work, Tyler released his debut solo mixtape Bastard in 2009. After releasing his debut studio album Goblin via XL Recordings in April 2011, he signed a joint deal with RED Distribution and Sony Music Entertainment for himself and his label Odd Future Records. With his gritty, horrorcore-influenced earlier releases, Tyler was often criticized for his use of homophobic and misogynistic slurs in his lyrics. He released the albums Wolf (2013) and Cherry Bomb (2015), the latter of which was considered to be a contrast from his previous releases as he experimented with a more melody-focused and jazz-fused sound. His fourth album, Flower Boy (2017) was met with widespread acclaim. His fifth album, Igor (2019), was also acclaimed by critics, became Tyler's first number-one album on the Billboard 200, and won Best Rap Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Tyler has won a Grammy Award, a BRIT Award, and an MTV Video Music Award. He created the cover art for all of Odd Future's releases, and has also designed the group's clothing and other merchandise. In 2011, Tyler 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, which ran between 2015 and 2018 and contained original scripted series from Tyler and a live stream of each Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival.
Tyler Gregory Okonma was born on March 6, 1991 in Ladera Heights, California, the son of a Nigerian father with Igbo ancestry and an American mother of mixed African-American and European-Canadian descent. He never met his father and spent his early life living in Ladera Heights and nearby Hawthorne. 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. At the age of 14, he taught himself to play the piano. In his 12 years of schooling, he attended 12 different schools in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas. He worked at FedEx for just under two weeks, and Starbucks for over two years. Okonma took his stage name from a Myspace page he used to post his creative endeavors.
2007–2011: Odd Future, Bastard and Goblin
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 video received attention from several online media outlets. An extended version with a third verse was made available on iTunes. Okonma won Best New Artist for "Yonkers" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. 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.
In early 2011, Okonma was gaining the interest of a number of figures in the music industry, including Steve Rifkind, Jimmy Iovine, Rick Ross and Jay-Z. Okonma and the rest of Odd Future eventually signed a deal with Red Distribution/Sony in April 2011. His debut studio album, Goblin, was released May 10, 2011. 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. 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. 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.
2012–2014: 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, Okonma stated that the show "is no more". 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.
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 The 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. 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. On February 26, 2013, Okonma performed the songs "Domo23" and "Treehome95" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
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.
2015–2016: 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". 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. Okonma announced via his Twitter account that the album would feature Charlie Wilson, Chaz Bundick and Black Lips member Cole Alexander. 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.
Cherry Bomb was released digitally on April 13, 2015, through Odd Future Records, with physical copies of the album, featuring five different album covers, set to be released on April 28, 2015. The album features performances from notable artists such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Schoolboy Q. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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 idolizing a black man".
2017–2018: Flower Boy, television, 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.
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, which was released on July 21, 2017. 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. 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", amongst a string of freestyles and remixes. Okonma referred to it as a "throwaway song", 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. On May 22, 2018, he released "435", 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.
On May 6, 2019, Okonma released two short video clips on his online profiles which featured new music. The videos showed him dancing erratically while wearing a long blonde wig, multicolored suit, black sunglasses, and a grill; he donned the same style for pictures on his social media and the music videos for the album's singles. He soon announced his fifth studio album, Igor, which was released on May 17. Igor was met with widespread critical acclaim and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, becoming Tyler's first number-one album in the United States. The album also features the song "Earfquake", which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. On December 23, 2019, Okonma released two songs, "Best Interest", a song that did not make the cut of Igor that was released with a music video, and "Group B". Igor won the award for Best Rap Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
Artistry and impact
Okonma's music is primarily rooted in alternative hip hop, hip hop, bedroom pop, jazz rap, R&B, and neo soul, while his earlier music was considered horrorcore. Over the years, his style of production has progressed from gritty and dark in early projects to a jazzy and soulful approach with the albums Cherry Bomb, Flower Boy, and Igor. His lyrical themes have also evolved from horrorcore-esque subjects to views on love, sexuality, existence and nostalgia.
Okonma is known as the leader of Odd Future, and the group as a whole has been compared to the influential hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Since the beginning of his career, Okonma has largely self-produced songs for his projects and other Odd Future members. Musically, he has been heavily influenced by N.E.R.D and The Neptunes member Pharrell Williams. Williams' debut solo album, In My Mind (2006), had a substantial impact on Okonma, inspiring him to co-found the Odd Future collective. He has also cited N.E.R.D's debut album In Search of... (2001) as an impactful album for him. He also has been influenced by rapper Eminem, calling Eminem's album Relapse (2009) one of his favorite albums.
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. 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," and, "I'm not homophobic. I just think faggot hits and hurts people." 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." Notably, Okonma was among the first to openly support fellow Odd Future member Frank Ocean after Ocean publicly revealed a past relationship with another young man. Lyrics on the album Flower Boy led to speculation that Okonma himself was coming out as gay. The tracks in question were "Foreword", "Garden Shed", and "I Ain't Got Time!" 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, though he later tweeted that it was a figure of speech.[third-party source needed]
Okonma has also been criticized for his graphic depictions of violence against women and lyrics that observers have called misogynistic. Brent DiCrescenzo of Time Out Chicago writes that rape is a "predominant theme" of Okonma's 2011 album Goblin 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." The Fader tallied 68 uses of the term "bitch" over Goblin's 73 minutes. The music critic Allison Stewart wrote that "critics (read: mostly white guys) have largely given [Okonma] a pass" for the album's many "homophobic and misogynistic slurs and rape and murder fantasies". An open letter questioning the lack of media condemnation of Okonma's lyrics, written by Sara Quin of the Canadian pop duo Tegan and Sara shortly after the release of Goblin, spurred additional debate and provoked comments ranging from supportive of Quin's message to labeling her as racist.
The commentator Emma Jane describes the harassment of two Australian activists critical of Okonma's lyrics, spurred by Okonma naming them on Twitter. Fans of the rapper targeted the women with rape and death threats in response to reports that they sought to have Okonma barred from the country, in what Jane cites as exemplary of "the way high profile figures are able to incite – either intentionally or otherwise – large fan bases to engage in mob attacks on named women".
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."
On March 15, 2014, Okonma was arrested in Austin, Texas for inciting a riot after telling fans to push their way past security guards at his South by Southwest performance. Due to this incident, Tyler faced up to one year in prison and a $4000 fine. Tyler's lawyer, Perry Minton, argued that the riot charge was overblown and perpetuated misconceptions of his client, who has no previous arrests. These charges were later dropped.
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. 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. Okonma later said 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 idolizing a black man." According to the BBC, it is believed the ban was lifted in February 2019, concurring with a scheduled performance in London to promote his fifth studio album, Igor. However, this show was forcibly cancelled by police due to safety concerns, the venue was claimed to be "overcrowded" and "too rowdy."
Okonma has identified as an atheist and has had explicitly anti-religious lyrics in his music, especially on the mixtape, Bastard, and the album, Goblin. He has been an avid skateboarder since 2002 and collects BMX bicycles. Okonma has been the subject of speculation regarding his sexuality and has made numerous direct references in lyrics and interviews to having had same-sex relationships or experiencing same-sex attractions.
|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
|Voice roles (Episode: "Rap It Up")|
|2012||Punk'd||Himself||2 episodes; Season 9, Episodes 2 and 4|
|Ridiculousness||Season 2, Episode 10: Tyler, The Creator & Taco Bennett|
|The Mindy Project||Rapper||Season 1, Episode 10: Mindy's Brother|
|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"|
|2017||The Late Show with Stephen Colbert||Performed "911"|
|2010||"Bastard"||Tyler, the Creator||Credited as Wolf Haley|
Co-directed by Taco Bennett
|"French!" (featuring Hodgy Beats)|
|2011||"Yonkers"||Credited as Wolf Haley|
|"She" (featuring Frank Ocean)|
|"Bitch Suck Dick" (featuring Jasper Dolphin & Taco)|
|2012||"Rella" (featuring Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Tyler, the Creator)||Odd Future|
|"NY (Ned Flander)" (featuring Hodgy Beats & Tyler, the Creator)|
|"Sam (Is Dead)" (featuring Domo Genesis and Tyler, the Creator)|
|2013||"Domo 23/Bimmer"||Tyler, the Creator|
|"Whoa" (featuring Tyler, the Creator)||Earl Sweatshirt|
|"IFHY/Jamba" (featuring Pharrell and Hodgy Beats)||Tyler, the Creator|
|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)|
|"Potato Salad" (featuring A$AP Rocky)|
|"See You Again / Where This Flower Blooms" (featuring Kali Uchis and Frank Ocean)|
|"A Boy Is a Gun"|
|2011||MTV2 Sucker Free Awards||Rookie of the Year||Himself||Won|||
|Must Follow Artist||Won|
|O Music Awards||Most Outrageous Tweet||Himself||Nominated|||
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best New Artist||Himself||Won|||
|Video of the Year||"Yonkers"||Nominated|
|2013||Grammy Award||Album of the Year||Channel Orange (as featured artist)||Nominated|||
|2014||MTVU Woodie Awards||Performing Woodie||Himself||Nominated|||
|MTV Video Music Awards||Art Direction||"Tamale"||Nominated|||
|2015||MTV Video Music Awards||Visual Effects||"Fucking Young/Death Camp"||Nominated|||
|2018||Grammy Award||Best Rap Album||Flower Boy||Nominated|||
|2019||Wall Street Journal Innovator Awards||Music Innovator of the Year||Himself||Won|||
|2020||Brit Awards||International Male Solo Artist||Himself||Won|||
|Grammy Awards||Best Rap Album||Igor||Won|||
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