He was once banned from this country for his homophobic lyrics, but Tyler, the Creator now sings from a different ‘him’ sheet
Considered one of the few prolific hip hop artists to come from the millennial generation of rappers born with smart phones, he has broken boundaries with his unique style and crafted five solo albums, all receiving critical acclaim.
But from a background of misogynistic and often prejudicial lyrics, he is now openly supportive of gay rights and through his lyrics can arguably claim to be the first Grammy winner with an LGBTQI hip hop record.
Are his past utterances more than the LGBTQI community can forgive though?
Not so says Jain Moralee, co-executive director at twenty10, a support network for the LGBTQI community.
“It is a positive thing when celebrities or people with big platforms use their platform to relay positive messages for those who are gender/sexually diverse,” she told Hatch.
She added: “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
At twenty10, which supports 12- to 25-year-olds who require support with housing, mental health, counselling and social support, it’s understood that support targeted at the right demographic by celebrity role models can be hugely beneficial.
Celebrities being open about the diversity in their gender/sexuality is not a new phenomena. However in the social media age it has become far more common. The impact of seeing a major celebrity be open about their gender/sexuality is in some cases the driving force some individuals need to feel accepted within their own relationship circles.
Regardless of his critical praise and newfound openness about his sexuality, Tyler has generated controversy for his lyrical content over the years.
So much so that he was banned from Australia, New Zealand and the UK for his lyricism that was often homophobic and misogynistic.
Jade Parker, Deputy Editor at Chattr, a Millennial news site, who identifies as an inter-sectional feminist as well as a pansexual, told Hatch: “Tyler, the Creator’s recent support of the queer community is commendable considering his background.”
But, she added: “As a member of the community though I still find it difficult to accept him as an ally as his past actions brought a lot of hurt and even violence into the community.
“Tyler’s homophobic fans were validated by his homophobic lyrics and this emboldened their hateful actions towards the queer community.
“Maybe now with Tyler’s support those hip hop fans will become more open-minded. Only time will tell if the positive actions Tyler makes can outweigh the negative actions of his past.”
Tyler entered the public eye as a rapper aged 16 in 2007, with all the pressure of fitting into a hyper-masculine field.
Nevertheless, there is no justifying lyrics such as, “Peter Pan in my youth, fucking fairies”. Fairies has long been a derogatory term used to describe homosexual men. He has used the word ‘faggot’ remorselessly (A total of 213 times on Goblin, his first solo album).
Lyrics like this have made the wider LGBTQI community wary of him.
Tyler was quoted on The Arsenio Hall Show seven years ago trying to explain his over-use of the word: “Frank Ocean is gay and I use that word all the time. He doesn’t care because he knows me.”
But, in recent years Tyler has shown a more open and honest side.
Specifically about his sexuality and his sexual experiences. Tyler has not openly come out as gay, however he began to openly discuss his sexuality in his 2017 album Flower Boy, specifically with the song Garden Shed, the lyrics of which go: “Garden shed, garden shed, garden shed, garden shed/For the garden/That is where I was hidin’/That was real love I was inAin’t no reason to pretend.”
The lyrics are a metaphor for coming out of the closet. Or in Tyler’s case the garden shed.
In I Ain’t Got Time! he raps: “Next line will have ’em like ‘Whoa’ / I been kissing white boys since 2004.”
IGOR, his Grammy-winning album, has been considered a LGBTQI themed hip hop classic since its release last year. From the lyrical content, iconic music videos to overall message. The album’s narrative is a love triangle between Tyler, a woman and another man. This narrative is not hidden in metaphors and symbolism. Tyler is clear in his message. IGOR is an album for mature-minded individuals.
He has also been was one of the few male rappers to openly support gay singer Frank Ocean and let the wider community know he supported his honesty in coming out. Tyler was quoted in a tweet saying: “My big brother finally fucking did that. Proud of that n—a cause I know that shit is difficult or whatever. Anyway. I’m a toilet.”
There is no denying Tyler, the Creator’s homophobic lyrics in the past and the attempt to cancel him was justified, but he has flourished as an artist and been consistent with his new position on homosexuality.
And having turned his once homophobic fans around to openly praise IGOR for the pro LGBTQI masterpiece that it is, imagine what is next for Tyler, the Creator…