Tyler the Creator has cemented himself as a leading figurehead in the internet led pop culture of today. With a clear, visualised sound and trend-forecasting fashion choices, he has quickly become a staple persona within the hip-pop genre. With a juxtaposition of dark and comedic lyricism paired with nostalgic instrumentals, his discography is continuously returned to by teens globally. And the hype surrounding his music has only grown with the announcement of his latest record ‘Scum Fuck Flower Boy’, due out this Friday (21/7). The main talking point surrounding the record is the leaked track ‘Garden Shed’, which its lyrics are essentially being interpreted as Tyler coming out the closet. ‘Garden Shed for the garcons / Them feelings I was guardin’ Tyler raps in the second verse, expressing the notion of being trapped inside the closet in fear of the backlash in coming out as gay, going on to mention fellow Odd Future member Frank Ocean, who used his sophomore record ‘Blonde’ to both express and explore his homosexuality, ‘Thought it’d be like the Frank, poof gone / But, it’s still goin’ on’. In retrospect, the discussion of these lyrics, and Tyler the Creator’s sexuality in particular by culture writers globally has become excessive for all the wrong reasons.
The topic has been adorned with think pieces and over-thought analysis, with most surrounding Tyler’s past homophobic lyricism, with culture sites displaying how many times he has used homophobic slurs to how this somehow could all be a publicity stunt because “Tyler is always trolling.” But what good does this all actually do? What good comes from naming every negative thing the rapper has done in the past at a time he seems to be embracing his sexuality? Yes, in the past I myself have been hesitant to approach Tyler’s music as the slurs within some of his earlier work was beyond offensive, but what good comes from vilifying him now because of it? The vilification of the hip-pop community against queer people has more than likely had an impact in delaying Tyler communicating his sexuality through his work, so isn’t the added pressure in living up to certain standards by some members from the LGBTQ+ community a blatant hindrance too? Criticising lyrics from ‘Goblin’, an album released in 2011, doesn’t stop the homophobia which remains in hip-pop today, not to mention the increasing misogyny in the rap hits which grace radio stations internationally.
In June, it was alleged rap trio Migos refused to perform with drag queens whilst performing a duet with Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live, a discussion which most music blogs remained quiet on. And even today it continues to feel like homophobic slurs are thrown around underground rap tracks like it is second nature, so what good comes from click-bait culture writing prosecuting an artist who has openly confessed his sexuality, whilst homophobia continues to exist in the straight dominated hip-pop genre of today. This desperate attempt to pinpoint Tyler as a controversial member of the LGBTQ+ community is wasted energy, an energy which could be focused on introducing wider audiences to queer rappers. The likes of Zebra Katz, Young M.A and Cakes da Killa are still yet to receive the level of attention they deserve, whilst writers continue to produce essays blasting an artist who has played a signature role in helping boost the careers of some of today’s greatest queer artists, from Frank Ocean himself to Syd – never mind using his Golf Wang clothing line to release t-shirts in support of same sex marriage.
As a number of fans of the rapper have pointed out through a bunch of archive tweets from Tyler’s official twitter account, he has openly been discussing his sexuality for years, posting photos of cute white boys to proclaiming that “I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED”. We can take from this that Tyler takes discussing his sexuality with a pinch of salt, he’s not looking to produce a 4000 word exposé to reveal he likes boys. Tyler’s laid back attitude towards the subject matter was also seen in a 2014 interview with Larry King, in which he stated “why does it matter, why do we care” if a rapper is gay or straight. Tyler the Creator’s sexuality isn’t a juicy narrative within hip-pop, and it’s ridiculous to analyse his sexuality. Based from a few bars from a single track from his new album, why are we discussing Tyler as being a part of the community’s culture? Unless he chooses to be in the future, as of now we don’t have the understanding to how much the rapper wants to show express his sexuality.
I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) April 13, 2015
By the looks of it Tyler just wants to move forward, letting the music be the voice for the juxtapositions within his identity. Why do we need so much depth and thought into a person’s sexuality? Yes, the possibility of Tyler the Creator coming out on this album doesn’t excuse his past homophobic lexis, however it places it under a different context. Tyler could write a whole album about kissing boys, or equally he could never reference his sexuality again in the public eye, but that’s up to him to decide; not you.
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