American rapper, record producer, songwriter and video director, Tyler Gregory Okonma, also known as “Tyler, The Creator” is the co-founder of the flourishing hip-hop collective ‘Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’. He began his career by uploading songs on ‘Tumblr’ that quickly went viral and grabbed mass attention. Tyler self-produced his first mixtape ‘Bastard’ and soon followed it up with his debut album ‘Goblin’. Though he had a distressing childhood, he managed to find solace in composing original music from a young age. Most of his songs continue to reflect verses of his adverse past. He has performed in top television shows such as ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’, ‘The Mindy Project’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’. He also hosts the annual ‘Camp Flog Gnaw’ carnival at the Exposition Park in Los Angeles; the event attracts music lovers from all over the globe. He has had the opportunity of working with mega recording brands such as ‘XL Recordings’, ‘Sony Music Entertainment’ and ‘RED Distribution’. He recently joined the garment industry by founding his own clothing company called ‘Golf Wang’. Tyler has won several accolades for his distinctive contribution as an artist and performer.
Childhood & Early Life
Tyler Gregory Okonma was born on 6th March in 1991 at Ladera Heights in California. His father is of Nigerian decent and mother of white Canadian and Afro-American decent. His father abandoned his mother hence Tyler has never seen his father.
He grew up with his sister, Lynda in his hometown. From the age of seven he would replace old album covers with his whimsical albums. They used to consist of a list of songs, a title track and the duration of the songs.
He attended several schools during his 12 years of education. In fact, for every year he attended a different school. All these schools were located in Los Angeles and Sacramento area.
By fourteen, he took keen interest in music. He wanted to play a musical instrument so he learnt to play the piano himself and became a skilled pianist in a short time.
As a child he was quite athletic. He was gifted a skateboard in his teens. He never received any training, but learnt to use it by watching the game ‘Pro Skater 4’ and other videos.
At school, he wouldn’t mix around too much. He was quite aloof and shy, but he slowly gained popularity when he reached his senior year. His schoolmates found out about his musical skills and began adulating him.
Before his music career kicked off, he worked at ‘FedEx’ for two weeks and at ‘Starbucks’ for a couple of years. Ultimately, he left doing odd jobs and decided to make music his profession.
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Debut Mixtape & Album
In 2009, Tyler produced and released his debut mixtape titled ‘Bastard’. Though he wasn’t promoted under any banner, his mixtape was quite a hit and placed at rank 32 on ‘Pitchfork Media’s’ Top Album list for the year 2010.
After his first mixtape, he signed a one record deal with ‘XL Recordings’. He announced shortly after, that he was doing an album with the brand, thereafter his first single from the album named ‘Yonkers’ was released on radio.
The music video was a hit, and played on all charts on top music shows. His album ‘Goblin’ was released in 2010, it received good feedbacks and he was asked to perform at various shows and concerts.
He made his first television appearance on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ in 2011, where he performed the song ‘Sandwitches’. He also performed at the ‘MTV awards’ and at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live.’
Working with Odd Future
After his first album, Tyler began collaborating with other rappers and featuring in their albums and songs. He also co-produced songs for other artists.
In 2011, he formed the hip-hop collective ‘Odd Future’ alongside Matt Martians, Hodgy, Left Brain, Pyramid Vritra, Casey Veggies and Jasper Dolphin. Later, other members such as Jeff Tremaine, Simitry Elyashkevich, Lace Bangs and many more artists also joined.
‘Odd Future’ launched their own TV show under the production of ‘Dickhouse Productions’ for Cartoon Network’s ‘Adult Swim’. The show was called ‘Loiter Squad’ and was aired in 2012.
It was a ten to fifteen minute live action comedy sketch television series with pranks and music composed by ‘Odd Future’. The show ran for three seasons and spanned over 31 episodes.
Tyler mentioned on social media that he had begun work on his second album ‘Wolf’, which would consist of more instrumental tracks than rap songs. The album was speculated to release in 2012, but it made its way to music shelves in early 2013.
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He produced the album under his own label ‘Odd Future Records’ with assistance from ‘RED Distribution’ and the gigantic brand, ‘Sony Music Entertainment’. The album sold over ninety thousand copies in the first week of its release itself. It contained compositions made by Tyler when he was fifteen years old. The album peaked on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.
In 2015, he announced about his third official album. On 9th April, two singles from the album were uploaded to Odd Future’s YouTube channel. The singles were named ‘Fucking Young’ and ‘Deathcamp’. After 4 days he digitally released his album titled ‘Cherry Bomb’. Hard copies of the album launched in music stores on 28th April, 2015. Celebrity artists such as Lil Wayne, Kayne West and Schoolboy Q featured in the album.
Mid 2015, he organised a world tour for the album. The tour began from North America and ended in Asia. He had to cancel his concerts in Australia owing to a campaign accusing him of violent and abusive song writing.
His most anticipated album ‘Wolf’ topped numerous charts worldwide. It ranked at the number 3 spot on U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.
His first single from the album ‘Wolf’ called ‘Domo23’ was placed at number 2 on ‘Bubbling under Hot 100 Singles Billboard’ and at number 13 on ‘US Heatseekers Songs Billboard’.
Awards & Achievements
The year 2011 was one of the most significant ones in Tyler’s career. He won three awards - the first at the ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ for ‘Best New Artist’ and at the ‘MTV2 Sucker Free Awards’ he took home two awards for ‘Rookie of the Year’ and ‘Must Follow Artist’.
In 2013, he was nominated to the prestigious ‘Grammy Awards’ in the category of ‘Album of the Year (as featured artist)’. The following year, he was nominated at the ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ for ‘Best Art Direction’.
Once again in 2015, ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ nominated him in the category of ‘Best Visual Effects’ for his singles Fucking Young and Death Camp.
Personal Life & Legacy
Tyler resides at Los Angeles. Tyler bought his first home after the success of his album ‘Goblin’. He bought his mother and sister a home the same year.
Tyler also has a step younger brother. He reveres his mother for her struggle. At the MTV Video Awards, he moved his mother to tears. He is grateful to the Odd Future members for providing him shelter during his most difficult times.
He has fallen into more than one controversy, with magazines and organisations citing that the lyrics of his songs are racial, abusive and disrespectful especially to women.
In 2016, he was rumoured to be dating Kendall Jenner after they were spotted dining together. However, speculations were put to rest when the two openly stated on ‘Twitter’ that they weren’t dating.
UK Home Secretary, Theresa May sent a letter to Tyler stating he was banned from visiting the UK for around 3-5 years, on account of offensive content after his debut mixtape and album.