Tyler: The Creator, or an Old Skool Sexist? No! - Articles - Soundblab

Tyler: The Creator, or an Old Skool Sexist? No!

by James Bray Rating: Release Date:

This is one half a of a two article debate. You can read the other half here.

The first thing to point out is that Tyler and Odd Future are intentionally provocative, they want to test boundaries and undermine received ideas. Most good art is controversial when it comes out, as it does something different, and breaks with existing conventions. Tyler's uncompromising approach to lyrical content, for him, is a means of asserting the legitimacy and integrity of his own voice. He does not conform to ideas of social acceptability in terms of what he does or say. He doesn't edit or filter his own emotions, leaving only those that are commendable or impressive. He deals with everything from insecurity, a sense of abandonment, frustrated sexuality, neurosis, anger, violence, possessiveness, hubris as well as solidarity, love and elation.

He doesn't shy away from his negative impulses, he candidly elaborates on how he deals with them. At some time in their lives, everyone, from one side or the other, has to deal with negativity. This can come in the forms of hatred, prejudice, anger, frustration and violence. Tyler engages with these kinds of emotions in an insightful way which people can relate to; this identification causes a kind of catharsis, which can be a healthy way of dealing with unhealthy emotions.

Tyler has referred to his individual songs as "movies" with characters and a narrative. For example, take "Sarah" from Bastard, it's a great tune, but in terms of it's content, it's a horror show. People don't get indignant about the "morality" of horror movies, as they are abstract and have more to do with violent emotions and catharsis. The same is true with Tyler's music, his lyrics should not be taken literally. One of the problems here is perception, we need to remember that songs are not documentaries.

In spite of all this, his attitude to gay people, women and sexuality in general, is immature, to say the least. But remember, he's only 20 years old, which is still really young. In the context of Odd Future, the offensive slur "faggot", has lost all meaning, and is just a means of dismissing something and asserting a contrary opinion. In fact, Odd Future's Sydney Bennett is a lesbian, and she is an integral part of the group. So it would be reductive to brand Tyler as "homophobic." You could argue that his take on women is a manifestation of a young male's frustrated sexuality in a society, which is oversexualised, and where sex has become a commodity. However, this does not excuse misogyny or casual references to rape.

In his general tone, Tyler is saying, "I've done this myself, I've subverted all your ideas and I've made something better, closer to the truth, to the reality of my life." As he is now more established, this extremely confrontational approach, should go, taking his "homophobia" and questionable attitude towards women with it.

Overall, I would say that Tyler has great songs and great lyrics. The content is problematic, but negative emotions have to find form somewhere, and art is the best place for them. Youth asserting itself in a revolutionary way, will always be controversial. Tyler's music, has brought something innovative and relevant. Without his uncompromising attitude, he may have ended up sounding like The Black Eyed Peas, and who needs more corporate R&B.

The thing to watch out for with this kind of music is how the media deals with him. If you consider the way the media treats women, it's hypocritical for it to be indignant about Tyler's "misogyny." He's attacking the kind of two-faced puritanism that exists in modern society. It would be dangerous to censor artists like this as this would foster more repression and hypocrisy.

Another potential problem is how Odd Future will be marketed. The problematic side of their work could be emphasised to appeal to white, suburban young men, who dig the aggression. This is where problems could arise, creating an unhealthy, antagonistic and destructive culture around Tyler. However, at the moment the Odd Future massive seem to be punk/ hip hop kids opposed to reactionary thugs. Although it's right to criticise Tyler's lyrical content, he's taking negative emotions and creating something with them; this, at least, is highly commendable.

Comments (6)

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Personally I don't think that lesbian women fall under the category of 'faggot' in the eyes of young men. As a straight man I've seen this with my own eyes, most men see lesbians as a fantasy. Gay men on the other hand are something completely...

Personally I don't think that lesbian women fall under the category of 'faggot' in the eyes of young men. As a straight man I've seen this with my own eyes, most men see lesbians as a fantasy. Gay men on the other hand are something completely different.

The fact that a member of the band is a lesbian doesn't clear them of homophobia for me.

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For me, it muddies the water further still and just convinces me even more that this is a kid playing around with words and situations he has no real understanding of and selling, with the media's help, to other young men who have no...

For me, it muddies the water further still and just convinces me even more that this is a kid playing around with words and situations he has no real understanding of and selling, with the media's help, to other young men who have no understanding of them.

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This is the weakest argument I ever heard. By just saying that something is art and that any repercussions are not his fault shows the overall ignorance of the media

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Personally, I'd put Tyler in the same bracket as Katie Perry, but no one bothered to claim 'You're So Gay' was a reflectiong of society's ills.

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I think you're just a faggot.

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And I think you're just a moron.

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