Arts and Entertainment

Artist Profile: The Ever-Evolving Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator is an extremely shrewd artist, and one who continues to grow and test the limits of our expectations.

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In music, there is a trajectory that most popular artists follow: debut albums are great and allow them to garner a fanbase, after which the quality of their music (and popularity, in turn) slowly wanes. This has been the norm for many years, especially in hip-hop, where artists begin their careers in their prime and lose their prowess thereafter. Nevertheless, certain artists have followed a different path, slowly maturing over time and developing their abilities as their careers progress. Perhaps one of the most prominent embodiments of this pattern is Tyler, the Creator.

After founding the hip-hop collective Odd Future in 2007 with artists like Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler released his debut solo album “Bastard” in 2009, followed by his sophomore LP “Goblin” in 2011. These two albums were dark and gritty, augmented by Tyler’s hoarse, gravelly vocals. They were hit-or-miss with critics, some of whom were repulsed by the mention of rape, murder, and other dark subjects, while others were intrigued by his honesty and brutality. The two albums were striking and polarizing additions to the music world and were the introduction to the grim, and often appalling, music of Tyler, the Creator.

Two years after “Goblin,” Tyler released his third album, “Wolf.” The 71-minute LP was just as shocking and offensive as its two predecessors, with the frequent use of homophobic and racial slurs and the inclusion of further offensive remarks about women, religion, and police brutality, among other obscenities. However, in contrast to “Bastard” and “Goblin,” “Wolf” feels relatively more introspective and personal. Objectively, the subject matter is the same as what was in the previous two albums. Yet, the descriptions felt more three-dimensional and transcendent: when Tyler mentions women, he does so sincerely and genuinely; when he mentions drugs, he does so without glorifying them and by discussing their harm. Similarly, on the track “Answer,” Tyler raps about his father leaving and how that motivated him as an artist (albeit doing so by calling him a derogatory term for gay men).

One of the biggest transitions between “Goblin” and “Wolf” was the music: the dark, grim noise of “Goblin” was replaced by more upbeat piano and guitar-driven sounds in “Wolf.” This showed Tyler’s willingness to adapt and evolve as an artist, a willingness that persisted. Throughout future projects, Tyler continued to be more thoughtful and inward-looking in anticipation of a follow-up project, one that would finally build upon Tyler’s shortcomings and become something incredible.

With his fourth album, “Flower Boy,” fans received what they had been hoping for. Beginning with the first track, “Foreword,” it was immediately apparent that this album was unlike anything Tyler had done before; it was warm, melodic, and much prettier than the heavier, darker music Tyler had produced previously, and it featured a greater emphasis on instrumentals. Songs like “See You Again” and “Boredom” were more introspective and thoughtful than anything we had seen from Tyler.

Arguably the biggest development in Tyler’s style was the transition between this album and previous ones, which is best encapsulated by the song “Garden Shed.” While shorter than four minutes, “Garden Shed” is beautiful, melodic, witty, and creative, with the vocals starting over two and a half minutes in. “Flower Boy” capitalized on everything that had been restricting Tyler, while remaining true to him, his defiance, and his creativity.

Throughout his entire career, Tyler has not been limited to music. He has also started the successful fashion brand Golf Wang and worked with Converse to create his Golf le Fleur line of sneakers. Even though his music may have offended and repelled some, he has stayed an extremely charming and humorous public figure. Famous for his colorful, casual, and creative outfits, regardless of how his music may have evolved, Tyler remains a goofy, imaginative, and charismatic artist.

Since 2007, the world has slowly been getting to know Tyler, the Creator. Through all of his projects and collaborations, he has shown us that he has the aptitude to create a variety of styles of music and cater to a wide audience. He has developed and evolved as an artist throughout his entire career, and with “Flower Boy,” he showed us that his ability exceeds our expectations. He keeps us guessing and has made it clear that he is nowhere near the pinnacle of his career.