Image courtesy of Vogue.
Note: this article was originally published as part of our "Youths of the Decade" roundup. Click here to read the article in full.
While Tyler, the Creator, who is now 28 years old, is no longer a youth figure, he was for most of the decade, whereupon he produced some of the best and most influential music seen in years. He first rose to prominence in the late noughties after co-founding the Odd Future hip hop collective, which numbered amongst its ranks the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis and Syd.
Since 2009, when he was 18 years old, he has produced an album every two years without fail, an astonishingly prolific artist. He handles most of the production himself, and has indeed produced for other artists such as Kali Uchis.
Each album that the American rapper has put out is unique in its own right, and each one evolves and grows into the next. He started with debut studio album Goblin, following his 2009 mixtape Bastard; Goblin featured hard-hitting beats, deepened vocals and dark, twisted lyrics. 2013’s Wolf, debuting at no.3 on the US Billboard 200, is arguably his best album to date, featuring boom-bap drum beats, beautiful-sounding, layered production rich with bright synths, emotive piano melodies, guitar strums and elegant organs along with deeply personal lyrics.
2015’s Cherry Bomb was less well received but still a commercial success, with bubbling synths, simple piano melodies and graceful synths; it was bolstered by features from Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, Kali Uchis and Odd Future member Syd.
2017’s Flower Boy, his last album release as a young artist, was more well received, with a Grammy nomination, a number 2 spot on the Billboard 200 and a more bright, cheerful outlook. It was diverse, too, with the more slow-paced, elegant singles Foreword, Boredom, November and 9/11 / Mr. Lonely featuring Rex Orange County and Frank Ocean, and the more fast-paced, electric singles Who Dat Boy and I Ain’t Got Time with features from A$AP Rocky.
This year’s IGOR, released as Tyler inches ever closer towards turning 30, was one of his best albums to date, receiving a Grammy nomination, and debuting at No.1 on the US Billboard 200. Tyler featured his vocals over chopped up soul and R&B beats, with contributions from Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Solange and Slowthai.
Tyler, the Creator, whose real name is Tyler Okonma, is talented in a variety of areas. As well as rapping, singing and producing, he also designs fashion for his label Golf Wang, which is changing up the fashion game, having runway shows attended by the likes of Kanye West, Kendall Jenner and YG. He has collaborated with Lacoste, Converse and Vans, and also holds an annual music festival in LA called Camp Flog Gnaw for which Japanese fashion icon Verdy has designed merchandise.
His collective Odd Future also did a comedy series on Adult Swim called Loiter Squad. While Okonma has had a controversial past, he is undeniably talented, and produces music that resonates with millions across the globe. As the years pass, it will be interesting to see what he puts out.