Things to do in Miami: Tyler, the Creator at the FTX Arena March 20, 2022
If you looked at Tyler, the creator’s last three albums in a vacuum, the work that preceded them would be unthinkable. On the contrary, it has been the defining element of his career: evolution, experimentation and unwavering confidence in everything he produces, regardless of the backlash.
Ahead of his concert at the FTX Arena on Sunday, March 20, it’s worth delving into Tyler’s history and evolution as an artist.
Born Tyler Okonma, the Los Angeles native became a hip-hop superstar, fashion icon and cultural icon, but in 2007 it was just him and a few friends making music for fun .
“Culture,” said Tyler, the then 23-year-old creator Los Angeles magazines in 2014. “I fucking hate that word, culture.”
Now the 31-year-old has two RIAA-certified Platinum singles in “Earfquake” and “See You Again,” is a Billboard Hot 100 stalwart, garnered five Grammy nominations with one win, and left an indelible mark on the cultural zeitgeist. For someone who can’t stand the word “culture”, Tyler, the Creator has surely left his mark there.
Before being a cutting-edge solo act, Tyler, the Creator was a co-founder of *CK and an integral part of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), better known as Odd Future.
The group, featuring Tyler, the creator; Frank Ocean; Earl sweatshirt; and Domo Genesis (among others), released their first mixtape, The Strange Future of the Band Vol. 1in 2008. Characterized by vulgar, irreverent lyrics and Tyler’s signature rasp, the 19-track volume was a sign of things to come.
In December 2009, Tyler released his first solo project, the mixtape Bastardto some success, making it into Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of 2010 and eventually landing on Billboard “21 under 21.”
But it wasn’t until Tyler released “Yonkers” and the accompanying video that the world seemed to take notice.
Uploaded to the Odd Future YouTube channel, “Yonkers” was the lead single from Tyler’s debut studio album, Leprechaun. The minimalist black and white video shows Tyler sitting on a stool in an empty room while playing with a cockroach, which he ends up eating and throwing up.
The video ends with Tyler hanging himself.
While the visual was controversial on its own, violent and vulgar lyrics over a crisp beat only served to amplify it – and it took the world by storm. By 2011, the song had amassed nearly 128 million views on YouTube.
Capitalizing on their growing fame and Odd Future’s popularity, the Odd Future label was established in 2011 and the band began to venture into other mediums including fashion and comedy. The collective created the streetwear brand Golf Wang, inspired by skate and hip-hop culture, and even starred in their own sketch show, Loafer Squadaired for three seasons on Adult Swim.
Odd Future and Tyler continued to generate controversy and acclaim. But their notoriety also followed them, and in 2014 the band were banned from entering New Zealand, when immigration officials “deemed [the group] be a potential threat to public order and the public interest for a number of reasons, including incidents at past performances in which they incited violence.”
Soon after, Tyler himself was banned from performing in the UK in 2015. This time the culprit was the lyrics to “Bastard” and “Goblin.”
“Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values,” British officials said at the time.
Juxtapose all of this with Tyler, the creator as today’s artist.
His third studio album cherry bombreleased in 2015, met with mixed reviews. Matthew Ramirez of Pitchfork wrote that it “bears all the characteristics of [Tyler’s] personality, for better or for worse. Critics at the time feared it was the wall — that perhaps all Tyler would ever be was a raunchy rapper backed to challenge the establishment.
It was until flower boy.
Released two years later cherry bomb, Tyler’s fourth studio offered a more sincere and thoughtful Tyler, a Tyler who let down his walls. The album meets his established angst with a previously untapped emotional perspective where there was anger.
The next album, igorfollowed the same trend. igor Sad Tyler rises with a journey from denial to acceptance of unrequited love.
Which brings us to Tyler’s latest album, Call me if you get lost.
His seventh studio album feels like the culmination of everything he’s learned as an artist, returning to the roots with a mixtape feel while retaining the emotional and artistic maturity he showed with flower boy and igor. Hosted by mixtape legend DJ Drama, the album meshes Tyler’s best, delivering sharp, crisp raps with more melodic, emotional tracks.
There is no announcement of another album, but Tyler has continued to produce music with other artists like Snoh Aalegra and Rex Orange County.
Tyler the Creator. With Kali Uchis, Vince Staples and Teezo Touchdown. 7 p.m., Sunday, March 20, at FTX Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; ftxarena.com. Tickets cost between $25.50 and $125.50 via ticketmaster.com.