Tyler, the Creator is an artist who has made an entire career on the mixed emotions he evokes. Many folks exclusively know him as a controversial artist, and while it’s true that his work has been the topic of many heated discussions, there’s no denying his talent. The 30 year-old California native has a number of entrepreneurial exploits: singer, songwriter, producer, fashion designer. He even wears a “cartoonist” notch on his belt. While Tyler has matured significantly since he first came on the scene in the late 2000s, you need to take a look at the early days of his career to understand the scope of his growth.

Early Days – Odd Future

Meta: Odd Future
Source: Acclaim Magazine

In the late 2000s, Tyler co-founded rap-punk group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), more commonly known as Odd Future. To say that Odd Future’s music was controversial was an understatement — a lot of the group’s lyrics discussed violence, kidnapping, and assault. The focus of their music was so contentious that they were even banned in New Zealand, although the group and Tyler have gone on record many times to explain that controversy was their gimmick, and it was not to be taken seriously. 

Even after the group unofficially disbanded, the ‘problematic’ stage set by Odd Future carried into Tyler’s solo career. Tyler’s first solo mix-tape, Bastard, dropped on Christmas Day 2009 and gave us a look at the inner workings of Tyler’s mind, self-described as ‘possessed and depressed.’ The music was dark, riddled with explicit language and subject matter, and most of it he wrote at just 16 and 17 years old, adding to its shock factor. Despite eliciting some pearl-clutching over its questionable content, Bastard still managed to make it to #32 on PitchFork’s Top Albums of 2010, a testament to its quality in spite of its controversy.

Expanding his Horizons – Loiter Squad, Fashion

Meta: Loiter Squad promotional poster
Source: HBO Max

In 2012, Loiter Squad premiered on Adult Swim. The show featured Tyler and several other members of Odd Future, as well as celebrity appearances. The premise of the show has been compared to a cross between Chapelle’s Show and Jackass, and was a mix of sketch comedy and pranks. While Loiter Squad was far from Tyler’s first exploit in the entertainment industry, it did significantly increase his reach, as many people in the show’s demographic had never been exposed to Tyler or Odd Future before.

It was also around this time that Tyler branched out into fashion. His clothing brand, Golf Wang, launched in 2011, and is described as American streetwear. Golf Wang sells stickers, socks, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, and accessories.

Musical Growth

Meta: Tyler wins the 2020 Grammy for Best Rap Album, Igor
Source: People

Since Bastard, every solo album that Tyler has dropped has faced some level of controversy. He stays in the news every year or so for offending one group or another with either his music or his statements, but remains unapologetically himself. As time has progressed, we’ve seen greater inspirational variety in his music, including rock, soul, and punk. His most recent album, Call Me If You Get Lost, was released in June 2021 as a follow-up to Igor (2019). The album is critically acclaimed and while it still includes some racy lyrics (if we’re being honest, it wouldn’t be a Tyler album if it didn’t), CMIYGL shows a significant growth in terms of subject matter and style.

In spite of Tyler’s controversies, there is no denying that the kid is talented, and he has the receipts to back it up: a Grammy, a BRIT award, and an MTV VMA. Catch the 2022 Grammy awards to see if he wins Best Rap Album, for which he is nominated, or see him on tour starting in February 2022.

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