Half-way through 2020 and the year has forever become marred by tragic death around the world. Even worse, in the United States the recent murder of George Floyd has reminded us of the injustices African Americans endure on a daily basis in the United States. These continued injustices have sparked nationwide protests against police brutality toward African Americans, demanding change and accountability.
As a white musician writing and performing music that is influenced by black culture, I’d like to dedicate seven straight days of posts honoring some of the black musicians who have inspired me the most.
Photo - Sam Rock
Today I'm writing about Tyler, the Creator, one of the most dynamic musical artists out there. I remember being in high school and first hearing OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). The songs were extremely offensive and without a doubt shocking, but at the same time they were catchy and humorous. I seriously doubt OFWGKTA could get away with those types of songs today. Some of their biggest controversies involve inciting violence and homophobia in many of their songs. Interesting considering members Tyler and Frank Ocean later came out as bisexual/gay. On the other hand, songs like "Kill People, Burn Shit, and Fuck School" just had a ring to them. Odd Future were wild, but like-able hooligans that used impressive word play and imagery throughout their music as a form of expression. They were also amateur skaters and featured some of their tricks in music videos and on social media. I wasn't too into skating then, but I still knew it was white dominated (still is). It was cool to see some diversity joining in on the culture. I'll never forget the music video for Earl and Tyler's fake seizure. Very raw.
OFWGKTA (mostly Tyler and Earl) inspired me as a musician almost a decade before I even started writing music. My neighbor and I would spend hours freestyling along to instrumentals of Odd Future songs. My personal favorite was always "Orange Juice," Tyler and Earl spit straight BARS over top the beat for Gucci Mane's Lemonade. The tone of their voices plus their unique and steady flows. Greatness in the making.
All of this controversy was bound to give way at some point. Since 2015 OFWGKTA has essentially disbanded with some members going on to bigger solo careers and others disappearing into the night. While musicians like Domo Genesis, and Earl Sweatshirt have had a good deal of success I don't think they have come close to Frank Ocean or Tyler, the Creator. Not the biggest Frank Ocean head so I won't speak on him other than say he definitely has some bangers. But Tyler, the Creator has put out some AMAZING content. "Cherry Bomb" and "Flower Boy" both had their moments however neither record came close to his latest Grammy winning release "Igor," a true masterpiece.
"Igor" diverged from rap toward a more pop and alternative sound. The album is an excellent example of an artist pushing their music to new limits and sounds. Even though "Igor" contains hardly any rapping Tyler, the Creator somehow found himself nominated for (and winning) the Grammy for best rap album. The past Grammys were also surrounded by scandal and corruption accusations for the often debated process of selection. Tyler bravely stood up for his beliefs and was honest about the situation. Why was his album not nominated for pop or another genre? Check out what he had to say here.
Pick something of Tyler's to listen to today here.
To donate to help the protests against police brutality check out this great Rolling Stones article!