As one of many devoted Tyler, The Creator fans, news of his UK ban was a real kick in the teeth, especially when he was set to perform the day after his ban was announced at Reading. For those of you not sheltered away in some sort of involuntary dungeon, you’d have heard the news that of course, Odd Future founder and frontman Tyler, The Creator was banned from the UK for ‘3-5 years’. The reason for this has been unclear over the past few days, but its seems the ban has been imposed ‘based on lyrics from 2009’.
Further details, regulatory standards and British policies later, the bottom line is ‘the home secretary (Theresa May) has reached this decision because you [Tyler] have brought yourself within the scope of the list of unacceptable behaviour by making statements that may foster hatred, which might lead to intercommunity violence in the UK’. Specifically speaking, the material in question include the songs VCR, Blow, Sarah, Tron Cat and French, which were found on Tyler’s 2009 debut Bastard, and his subsequent sophomore, 2011’s Goblin.
If I’m honest I’m not sure where to begin. The fact that Tyler, The Creator is the very first musician in the UK ever to banned for his lyrics? Or the fact that there are actual terrorists or hate preachers being aloud into the country? Or the fact that Eminem recently rapped ‘Ain’t no one safe from, non-believers there ain’t none/I even make the bitches I rape cum.’ Or finally, and possibly most importantly, Tyler, The Creator is in no way shape or form the same artist he was in 2009, or 2011 for that matter.
While lyrics such as ‘You niggas rap about fucking bitches and getting head // Instead I rap about fucking bitches and getting heads // While you niggas stacking bread, I can stack a couple dead // Bodies, making red look less of a color, more of a hobby’, you can’t really jump to Tyler’s defence. And a fusty, dried-up paper-pusher in UK government isn’t even going to care that the next line is ‘I’m not a rapper nor a rapist nor a racist’. She’s not going to care that he’s best friends with a bisexual, that he refuses to take any type of intoxicants (alcohol included), that the entirety of his recently released Cherry Bomb is a celebration of ‘finding your wings’, or the fact that he ‘was 15 when I first drew that donut // 5 years later, for our label yea we own it // I started an empire, I ain’t even old enough // To drink a fucking beer, I’m tipsy off this soda pop.’ To decode- before he’s even able to legally buy an alcoholic drink (in the US), Tyler boasts not only an accomplished rap posse, his own record label, various prestigious awards including Best New Artist, his own clothing brand, two (at this time) critically acclaimed albums, his own television show, am I missing anything?
The outrageous nature of Tyler, The Creator’s ban is no more epitomised by Goblin’s Radicals. ‘Random disclaimer: Hey, don’t do anything that I say in this song, okay? It’s fuckin’ fiction. If anything happens, don’t fuckin’ blame me, white America.’ And further to this, the government’s subsequent letter- ‘based on the premise of your adopting a mentally unstable alter ego.’ ‘ALTER EGO’. ‘FICTION’. IT’S NOT REAL. Slim Shady ring any bells? Why isn’t Eminem banned? What about ASAP Rocky with Lord Flacko? There simply cannot be this level of inconsistency, whether it’s a legendary veteran such as Eminem, or a similarly aged, similar styled artist such as ASAP Rocky.
I feel outraged that an artist like Tyler, The Creator is banned from entering my country. The fact that the government has identified the problem as being Tyler’s alter-ego is actually laughable, as Tyler says so beautifully ‘it’s fucking fiction’. That aside, Tyler has grown and developed as an artist since his profanity-powered debut, the music he makes now is empowering, inspirational and as mentioned all about ‘finding your wings’. His rough aesthetic and initial brash attitude aside, I think Tyler, The Creator is if anything a role model for his fans. A self-starter, an entrepreneur, a maverick, despite all the hate, problems, troubles, obstacles and everything in between in Tyler’s life he’s come out on top. To me that’s an inspiration.
‘I’m not saying to go out and do some stupid shit, commit crimes. What I’m trying to tell you is, do what the fuck you want. Stand for what the fuck you believe in, and don’t let nobody tell you can’t do what the fuck you want. I’m a fucking unicorn, and fuck anybody who say I’m not.’ – Tyler, The Creator, Radicals (2011)