Tyler Okonma is an American rapper, designer, singer, TV show host, director, and a producer at the age of only 26 years old. He has released 8 seasons of clothing with his brand Golf Wang and collaborated with multiple companies and designers along the way. Talking about music, Tyler has also released 5 studio albums. While persevering his creative career, he has always stayed as himself and has inspired others to be themselves too.
At age 6, he was drawing imaginary album covers including also tracklists and songs lengths. When he was 14, he decided to learn the piano by teaching himself and he succeeded in that. Now, Tyler, the Creator has overcome everything. From never having a song on the radio, blogs deleting his music, and being told that he would never be anything, to being one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West before him, Tyler has evolved from a flashy kid with a unique vision to a cultural figure with authentic influence over what the youth wear and listen to.
With this premise, we wanted to make you understand the importance of Tyler in the current culture. Now, as he’s a very special and interesting case, let’s analyze his evolution and who has become.
Full of rebellious and brutal lyrics about murder, rape, and homophobia, Tyler’s music was completely different at the time. The rapper used to write his most perverted thoughts and his goal was only one: to shock. Tyler’s debut project Bastard, shared with the world in 2009, set the tone for what was to come. The album introduced us this weird character and put Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All affiliates on the map.
Heavy-laden with piano chords, distorted synths, and crazy lyrics, each track felt so damn attractive by the youth. Formed under the quote “I feel we’re more talented than 40-year-old rappers talking about Gucci,” the group would soon become synonymous with an anti-establishment spirit that was so cleverly confirmed on Tyler’s major label debut Goblin.
As their fame continued to grow, the group gained an audience that ranged from hip-hop heads to more indie-rock oriented consumers that were quickly wearing their Supreme box logos and emulating their newfound heroes.
His album Goblin uses the word “faggot” and variants of anti-gay lyrics a total of 213 times and that made him hated by the media. Denounced by LGBTQ+ organizations for their flagrant use of homophobic slurs, the offensive attitudes and moral deconstructivism of Tyler’s early work led to numberless calls for boycotts and bans from both the UK and Australia. In all this, he later revealed his sexuality, promoted the gay community with his brand and started rapping about kissing white boys.
As we initially said, before the release of his 2017 Grammy-nominated album “Flower Boy,” Tyler was known primarily for his rough, explicit rap lyrics about homophobia and rape and his deep, gravelly voice. Media defined him as a horrorcore artist. However, he recreated himself on “Flower Boy,” incorporating slow piano riffs and charming synths while exploring his vocal range and lyrical depth. He moved away from lyrics meant to shock listeners, opting for introspective ballads about loneliness, heartbreak, and boredom.
It’s now been almost two years since the release of “Flower Boy,” and Tyler has further developed his voice and individual production style. His latest album IGOR, which released May 17, again defied expectations.
Tyler, the Creator made it very clear what his upcoming album would not be. He stated definitively that IGOR is like none of his other albums.
“Igor. This is not Bastard. This is not Goblin. This is not Wolf. This is not Cherry Bomb. This is not Flower Boy. This is Igor. Pronounced EEE-GORE. Don’t go into this expecting a rap album. Don’t go into this expecting any album. Just go. Jump into it. I believe the first listen works best all the way through, no skips. Front to back. No distractions either. No checking your phone no watching tv no holding convo, full attn towards the sounds where you can form your own opinion and feelings towards the album.”
Tyler said on Twitter.
While the rapper explicitly articulated what shouldn’t be anticipated, what listeners could prepare for is an album that stays true to the pulse of sound Tyler, the Creator has cultivated over the past 12 years. From Bastard to Cherry Bomb to now, every twist and turn of his insubordinate and nontraditional career as a rapper and musician can be distinguished in this new sound.
Generically, “Igor” is considered an archetype in Gothic-inspired stories. A physically deformed lab assistant who works with scientists and monsters. The figure is most-often associated with Dr. Frankenstein. Listening to the album, you’ll for sure think about how this character applies to Tyler.
With this album, Tyler, the Creator is telling a story of love and of self. This is a study in character development. Tyler’s spent the album detailing this complicated love triangle where he’s seeing this guy who’s also seeing some girl. Tyler’s frustrated because the guy won’t commit either way. All the while, Tyler’s a mess, caught between wanting to love and the fear of being unloved.
After a few listens, the album is exactly what he prepared us for. The retro funk, the ’80s aesthetic production, the surprise features, the personal subjects and the abandoning rap for singing. Everything match. Tyler shows us a new vulnerable side that we’ve only briefly seen in other projects. It’s arguably the best album of his career so far.
“It kind of all led up to this. It’s so interesting too, a lot of people were like, ‘Oh, the early stuff sounds so different from the new stuff,’ but I think it’s just balance. If it was like a breakfast platter with bacon and pancakes and eggs, and at first the plate I was giving people had a lot of eggs, but now this time it doesn’t have much, and it’s more pancakes and bacon or whatever. I think it’s a through line through stuff from Bastard up until Igor”
He said in an interview with Zane Lowe.
The project is a great listen all the way through, but there are a few outstanding songs that we can’t really get enough. We’re talking about “Earfquake” that features a Playboi Carti verse that will send you into an out-of-body experience, the spatial “New Magic Wand” and the emotional “I Don’t Love You Anymore”.
If you haven’t listened to it yet (seriously?!) stream it below.