One of the most creative forces in modern hip-hop is Tyler, the Creator. Ever since the video for “Yonkers” was released in 2011, the rapper has shown a unique mix of unhinged creativity and a bold willingness to take risks. Today, Tyler is a leader in the hip-hop culture, and he’s inspired a new wave of artists who value the DIY approach.
He’s opened a new lane for outsiders with major ambition, but when Tyler first came out, he and his rap crew were somewhat of a mystery.
Tyler Okonma Was Born In Ladera Heights, California
Born on March 6, 1991, Tyler is the son of a mother of mixed African-American and European-Canadian descent. His father is of a Nigerian background of Igbo descent. But, the future rapper never met his father, who abandoned him at a young age. There are several songs throughout his discography that sprinkle in a line or two about his father.
Throughout his albums, he has a good amount of lyrics directed at his estranged father.
At The Age Of 7, He Began To Discover Music
At that age, Tyler would take out the cover out of an album’s case. Then, he would create covers for his own imaginary albums. His creative side started to show when he included a track list with song lengths, long before he could even write or make music.
By the time he was 14 years old, he taught himself how to play the piano. That would open the door for more to come.
His Music Taste Didn’t Make Him Many Friends
The music taste of Tyler, the Creator goes way back. In an interview with Spin, he talked about his high school days. “I liked Good Charlotte and Kenny G, and I was black. And I went to school with a bunch of black kids, so they kinda swayed away from me.”
But, at least Joel Madden from Good Charlotte appreciated the compliment. He tweeted about the comment with a Tweet “SWEET DUDE.”
He Was Making Vlogs Before YouTube Vlogging Was A Thing
In 2008, Jake Paul was only 11 years old and the concept of YouTube vlogging hadn’t taken off yet. For Tyler, he was already documenting his daily life by uploading shaky videos before anyone else.
From riding around on scooters with friends to skating through puddles and more, his bloxhead YouTube channel is full of old gems. Interestingly enough, his very first video, “Normal Day,” is still accessible to watch.
He Got Fired From Starbucks
During a 2015 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Odd Future co-founder talked about the jobs he had. He worked at Starbucks for two and a half years and claimed it was fun. Because he was stealing cheese danishes every day, he eventually got fired by his manager.
He shared, “I hope she’s watching because I still hate her.” But, he has a theory why he got fired. “I was nice, I was cool with people.”
In 2007, Okonma Co-Founded Odd Future
Alongside Hodgy, Left Brain, and Casey Veggies, they self-released their debut mixtape, The Odd Future Tape. Much of the early music from the collective group was recorded in a room of Syd Tha Kyd and Taco’s home in Central Los Angeles.
During Christmas of 2009, Okonma self-released his own mixtape. Sometime before the release of Tyler’s mixtape, Chicago rapper DeShay collaborated with the group, but the pair would eventually have a falling out.
He Doesn’t Partake In Drugs And Alcohol Anymore
According to Fader, the rapper blamed having an edible in 2009 for the “worse time of his life.” He noted that he apparently couldn’t even take Benadryl due to the medicine’s effects on his state of mind.
But, during an interview on The Shane Show, Tyler was asked if experimented with anything else. As of now he’s completely clean, but he did share his “base is usually happy, energetic, super intrigued by something I like.”
The Music Video For “Yonkers” Received Plenty Of Attention
The first single for Tyler’s debut studio album, Goblin, gained attention from numerous media outlets. However, the song received controversy due to its violent lyrics and numerous disses. Although it was critically acclaimed, Tyler directed a music video for the single, which was met with a positive reception.
Eventually, the rapper won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in 2011. “Yonkers” was the breakout for both Tyler and Odd Future.
After The Release Of “Yonkers,” Tyler Signed A Record Deal
The co-founder of Odd Future scored a one-album deal with the British independent label, XL Recordings. With fellow Odd Future member Hodgy Beats, they made their television debut on February 16, 2011. The pair performed the song “Sandwitches” as the musical guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
That same year, the rapper told fans through his Formspring account some exciting news. His second album would be called Wolf, and it was scheduled to be released in 2012.
Odd Future Had Their Own Television Show
Loiter Squad premiered on Adult Swim on March 25, 2012. The show ran for three seasons and featured guest appearances from celebrities such as Lil Wayne, Seth Rogen, and Johnny Knoxville. The show often featured other members of Odd Future as well.
On July 14, 2015, Tyler confirmed that the show was “no more.” He stated that “It opened the doors up for other things that my boys want to do.”
Good Pals With Elon Musk
In a 2017 interview on The Shane Show podcast, the rapper discussed his love for the McLaren. Then, he brought up that he and Elon Musk hang out from time to time. “He’s cool. He loves the design aesthetic of McLaren and how sleek and cool it was.”
Despite the growing friendship with the Tesla and SpaceX founder, Tyler is hesitant to join his new friend on a trip to Mars.
He Was Arrested For Inciting A Riot
In March 2014, Tyler was arrested and charged by Austin police for inciting a riot during his headlining spot at SXSW. According to Spin, the rapper began screaming at the crowd outside after starting his set on a wrong note.
“All you guys back there that can’t get in,” he said, before imploring them to make their way inside by breaking through the gates. As reported by Fox News, his bond was set at $3,500.
While Promoting Wolf, Tyler Performed Several Guest Verses For Other Artists
As his fame continued to grow, he lent his voice for “Trouble on My Mind” by Pusha T, and “Martians vs. Goblins” by The Game. He then co-produced the song “666” for MellowHypes’ third album, Numbers. Throughout 2013, the rapper toured North America and Europe.
The first single to come from Wolf was “Domo23.” The album was released on April 2, 2013, by Odd Future Records. It featured guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and Domo Genesis.
His Lyrics Have Controversy Behind Them
Homophobia, misogyny, and violence against women were featured pretty heavily in his lyrics. In his 2011 album, Goblin, perception as a misogynistic homophobe reached a fevered pitch. In an interview with NME, Tyler pushed back by saying he wasn’t against anything or had a phobia.
Tyler told MTV News, “Well, I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive [sic], so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you.”
A Series Of Three Mountain Dew Commercials Created Controversy For The Rapper
In May 2013, the rapper was 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. PepsiCo would pull the ad and apologize.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles native issued a statement claiming that he was not meant to “spark a controversy about race.”
Theresa May Banned Him From The UK
Tyler’s manager, Christi Clancy, revealed on the rapper’s Tumblr account what happened. “Tyler has been banned from entering the UK for somewhere between 3 to 5 years per a letter from the secretary of state for the home department of the United Kingdom.”
Theresa May’s office released a statement defending the decision. “Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values.”
The Only Odd Future Members He Competes With Are Earl And Hodgy
The OF camp has members in tons of fields, from photography to skateboarding to music. But, Tyler tries to keep up with Earl and Hodgy when it comes to the rap game.
“He’s a really, really, really good rapper. Hodgy though, people sleep on Hodgy. His verse on ‘Jamba’ is so good. He has my favorite verse on the whole album. When Hodgy’s in his zone, he’s the best. I love both of those dudes.”
Don’t Ask Him For More Water
If this Grammy-nominated rapper enters your restaurant, you’ll possibly get a bigger tip by not making sure he’s continuously hydrated. On Amaru Don TV, Tyler revealed one of his pet peeves — a refilled water glass that isn’t empty yet.
He went on to tell the story about a server in Chicago who “was so confused he just walked away,” after Tyler pleaded with him not to refill his water glass.
Is He Dating Jaden Smith?
There is a weird rocky relationship between the two. In 2018 at the Camp Flog Gnaw music festival, Smith took it one step further. “I just want to say Tyler, the Creator is the best friend in the world and I love him so much.”
Smith followed up that claim in a since-deleted tweet to the Flower Boy hitmaker, writing, “Yup @tylerthecreator I Told Everyone You Can’t Deny It Now.”
He Prefers Blonde More Than Channel Orange From Frank Ocean
In an interview with Apple’s Zane Lowe, Tyler talked about his connection with Frank Ocean.
“Blonde is so sick. I always tell him I like that way better than Channel Orange, and I don’t like comparing. But the looseness of structure and the chords on Blonde speaks to me more than Channel Orange. But I think Channel Orange has a little bit more pop structures, which gets to people a little more.”
He Goes Onto SoundCloud In Search Of Undiscovered Artists
Tyler has a history of collaborating with artists, from Rex Orange County to Anna of the North, long before either artist saw any kind of success. According to Complex, Tyler came across his DIY Long Beach band, Bane’s World. He discovered the group’s guitarist, Michael Seyer, on Soundcloud.
After finding them on social media, Tyler did something incredible. He booked the band to open for him at a show alongside other artists.
He Did The Theme Song For Bill Nye Saves The World
That’s right. Tyler produced the theme song for Bill Nye’s Netflix series. Bill Nye was a significant factor to most nineties kids’ education thanks to his first television show. It’s no surprise that the Grammy-nominated rapper is a fan of the man.
As for the show itself, Tyler recalls something about it with Entertainment Weekly. He said, “It got kids not to hate science class. And that worked. That full-on worked.”
Justin Bieber Couldn’t Co-Sign Him On Twitter
Back when Tyler was still buzzing in the blogosphere, co-signs were currency. Mostly, it’s a retweet from a high profile individual that could make an artist’s career. But, when the Canadian pop star and rapper started to hang out, there was a dealbreaker in place.
Bieber couldn’t retweet any of Tyler’s tweets or photos because of Tyler’s NSFW handle at the time. Since then, he’s switched the handle to @tylerthecreator.
November 2016 Was The Best Time Of His Life
On Flower Boy, there’s a track called “November.” The lyrics were inspired by his own happiest moment, which happened in November 2016. The month was full of creating and hanging out with friends.
In a self-released interview, Tyler said, “It was the greatest time of my life. We rented a house out, and every morning we would wake up for The Jellies. I was starting to get involved with Converse at that time.”
He’s Not Even A Fan Of Golf
Despite emblazoning the word on countless pieces of OF merch and Golf Wang apparel, the rapper hates it. In an interview with Billboard, he said, “I mean, that’s my least favorite sport, to be honest. The word just looks sick.” The pop culture-influenced collection also includes neat items.
It has a little bit of everything, like a kelly green camp hat embroidered with images of chicken and waffles, and a T-shirt decorated in cherry blossoms like a bottle of Arizona green tea.
He’s Never Shied Away From The Spotlight
Ever since the music video for “Yonkers” was released, the rapper refuses to back down. He’s invited controversy and doubled down on his own convention. With a unique mix of sarcasm, subordination, and dope music, nothing will bring him down.
From Odd Future to his sock line to his TV show, Tyler has had a well-documented path to success. But there’s another Tyler you might not know: he’s quite the innovator.
Flower Boy Put The Rapper Into New Heights
Four singles supported Tyler’s fourth studio album Flower Boy. “Who Dat Boy,” “Boredom,” “I Ain’t Got Time!” and “See You Again” were all released as singles for the album. Flower Boy received widespread acclaim from critics and debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200.
Among the albums released in 2017, Tyler’s was met with approval from numerous media publications. He was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
Tyler Wrote A Song For The Grinch Movie
A rapper once deemed a moral scourge by overbearing parents, his inclusion on the project is a complete flip from past ways of thought for an additional revenue stream. Shockingly, the rapper helped put together the soundtrack for the children’s movie. “I Am The Grinch” was one of two singles he did for the movie.
He and Simpsons composer Danny Elfman also collaborated together on a new version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
He Released “Okra” As A Throwaway Song
The single garnered media attention for its abrupt release and a lyrical reference to American actor Timothee Chalamet. “Okra” has been described as a rap song with bass, drums, snare, piano, and strings in its instrumentation, with its production complementing Tyler’s vocal performance.
Throughout the song’s lyrics, Tyler makes a few references, from several pop culture figures, and Chalamet as well. He also alludes to the separation of Odd Future.
He’s Approaching 30 Years Old, But He’s Still Young At Heart
Tyler, the Creator has accomplished a lot in his career. He has taken incredible strides to erase the more unpalatable moments of his earlier creative decisions. Tyler now openly hints at the fluid nature of his own sexuality.
While he’s come a long way, the unmistakable figure of these decisions makes it hard to find any sense, outside of the possibility of financial gain. But, he’s still an interest to the younger demographic and continues to leave his mark on hip-hop.