Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, the Creator
Birth name: Tyler Okonma
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
March 6, 1991
Years Active: 2007- Present
Tyler, the Creator was born as Tyler Gregory Okonma in Los Angeles, California on March 6, 1991. He was raised by his mother in the Ladera Heights and Hawthorne Heights sections of L.A. Growing up Tyler, the Creator taught himself how to play the piano and would design his own album covers for existing albums.
His music career began on the internet and would eventually take off from there. His name came from his Myspace profile, which he used to socialize with other artists and post his early songs in the early aughts. In 2007, Okonma’s foray into music through the internet would eventually lead to the formation of the music collective Odd Future, also known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All and OFWGKTA. Aside from Okonma, the collective’s members over the years have included Hodgy Beats, Jasper Dolphin, Mike G, Left Brain, Domo Genesis, Matt Martians, Pyramid Vritra, Casey Veggies, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd tha Kid, Taco and Frank Ocean along with several others associated with the group. The first Odd Future mixtape was released in 2008. In 2011, their own record label, Odd Future Records, was established. In addition to music, Odd Future ventured into fashion with their own clothing line, and starred in their own comedy sketch show on AdultSwim called Loiter Squad that lasted for three seasons. Odd Future roused up controversy due to their lyrics, which some described as violent, misogynistic, and even at times homophobic. Their shows produced crowds that engaged in moshing, and Odd Future members would dive into the crowds. The controversial antics of Odd Future led to the group being banned from New Zealand in 2014. In spite of their notoriety, members of Odd Future produced successful solo work, such as Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange and Syd and Matt Martians forming the neo-soul group The Internet. Tyler, the Creator maintained a solo career while in Odd Future, which hasn’t produced anything collectively since 2016, leaving fans to accept the group’s inactivity as its demise.
Tyler, the Creator released several solo projects to critical acclaim while in Odd Future. His first work was the mixtape Bastard in 2009, which garnered praise from publications like Pitchfork and led to a record deal. He then released the track “Yonkers” in 2010 before releasing his first studio album Goblin in 2011. Goblin contained features from members of Odd Future, with Okonma producing most of the album. Similar to the work of Odd Future, Bastard and Goblin also elicited controversy. In 2015, the UK decided to ban Tyler, the Creator from performing shows for several years, citing the lyrics from Bastard and Goblin as reasons. Okonma also came under fire after Goblin was released by other artists in the industry, who accused him of being misogynistic and homophobic. Nevertheless, critics still praised the work and Goblin appeared on several end of the year lists for best album.
Having gained a reputation and loyal following, Okonma continued to release music and participate in fashion outside of Odd Future. In 2011, he created the fashion label Golf Wang which is inspired by skater culture, hip hop, and sneaker culture producing skateboards, sneakers, and clothing apparel. In 2012, he founded the yearly music festival Camp Flog Gnaw. In 2013, he released his third album, Wolf in which once again featured his Odd Future collaborators and some of his musical heroes such as Erykah Badu and Pharell Williams. The follow up to Wolf, 2015’s Cherry Bomb, also featured Williams and other big artists such as Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Charlie Wilson, and Schoolboy Q.
After a world tour for Cherry Bomb, Okonma waited two years to release Flower Boy in 2017. The album signified a shift in his work that was known for being brash and at times, included dark humor, to work that was more personal to Okonma and incorporated jazz elements. Flower Boy was met with widespread praise and acclaim. It reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and earned Okonma a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. Riding high off the success of Flower Boy, Okonma then released a project centered around the 2018 animated film Dr.Seuss’ The Grinch after he was approached to cover the song “You’re a Mean One Mr.Grinch” for the movie and its official soundtrack.
Several months later, teased with a visual posted on social media of Okonma in a blond bowl cut wig, wearing a multi colored suit as a new persona named “Igor,” Okonma released his fifth album, aptly titled IGOR in mid 2019. The narrative of IGOR follows the highs and lows of Okonma becoming “Igor” due to an unrequited love situation where his romantic interest struggles with reciprocating his feelings openly while being in an existing relationship with a woman. The album included former collaborators and inspirations of Okonma such as Kanye West, Charlie Wilson, Pharell Williams, Santigold, and Solange. Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, La Roux, Ceelo Green, and comedian Jerrod Carmichael also make appearances on the album. Described by Okonma himself as “genre-bending” and unique in comparison to his previous albums, the work of IGOR incorporated a diverse array of samples from the work of 1980’s Nigerian funk artist Bibi Mascel, Japanese “city pop” pioneer Tatsuro Yamashita, legendary soul singer Al Green, 2010s indie rock artist Cullen Omori, and several others. IGOR was met with widespread acclaim by music publications and fans alike. It also became Okonma’s first album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. In 2020, IGOR earned Tyler, the Creator his first Grammy win for Best Rap Album which he was “very grateful” for, but took the opportunity to express how it was also a “backhanded compliment” due to Grammy’s exclusion of Black artists from major categories and relegating them to “rap” and “urban” categories.
Tyler, the Creator on numerous occasions have credited the work of Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo in the group N.E.R.D and as the duo The Neptunes as his biggest influence. N.E.R.D’s first album In Search Of… and The Neptunes’ work with hip hop duo Clipse (Pusha T and No Malice) have been credited by Okonma specifically for getting him into music, shaping him into the artist he is, and is even sampled in a few of his own tracks. Additionally, he has praised legend Erykah Badu as another artist to have influenced his work. Okonma’s close peers have also inspired his work such as Solange and Frank Ocean. With over a decade in music and fashion, Tyler, the Creator has influenced younger artists such as Billie Eilish and the unconventional boy band BROCKHAMPTON, especially its founding member Kevin Abstract.