Tyler, the Creator: Flower Boy
Tyler, the Creator has been charging up the youth and making parents uncomfortable since 2010.
If you’re like me, the emergence of his collective, Odd Future, was a pivotal time of adolescence. The abrasive passion behind his work and presence, along with his embracing of skate culture, his unapologetic eclectic taste in the form of kitty cats & green masks, and his initially pervasive atheism (a perspective I had never encountered, and maybe even feared at 14) has made him a standout in both pop culture and the art world since the virality of ‘Yonkers’ took screens by storm.
I must admit, after fully stepping into the bildungsroman that is my life, I’ve strayed away from most of the work of Tyler and those of the iconic collective. However, after listening to Tyler’s new project Flower Boy, I was blown away by what oozed through every crack and corner of the music.
Let me preface this by saying I had only been introduced to the entity that is Tyler, the Creator through a demeanor of “Fuck you. I hate everything. Let’s burn all this shit.” This image, while it may present a facet of Tyler, was all he was known for by me and most that knew of him. But of course, this preconceived notion could not fully paint a picture of the whole human that is Tyler, the Creator. The angst that plagued him early on in his career is still very much present on Flower Boy. However, instead of combating that angst with the “KTA” attitude that I saw from him back in the day, Tyler remedies his uneasiness with soulful crooning, blatantly vulnerable lyrics, and chords that either make you want to melt or slap somebody. The album touches heavily on growth. Past growth, the album touches on the essence of change; change in surroundings, relationships with others, relationships with oneself, time, and love.
It goes without saying that Flower Boy gives listeners a genuinely sensitive side of Tyler; a side that has been there from the very beginning, a side that perhaps he’s always wanted to share, but has never known how to until now. Something in particular that shines on this album are his references to his sexuality.
Throughout his career, Tyler has been criticized for use of harmful language against the queer community in his music. On Flower Boy, however, Tyler admits to his own queerness; claiming that what he thought were phases in his life have turned out to be another facet of him; perhaps an inspiration for this album as a whole.
While we celebrate the self-searching and self-acceptance he has gone through, this is still SDEL.
We gotta shine some light on this.
Since coming out of the closet, Tyler has, in and out of the music, expressed not only his sexual orientation but also his sexual preferences. In an interview with Power 105.1, Tyler, a queer, black man, admitted not being attracted to black men.
Truly a “fucking walking paradox.”
I, personally, wouldn't go so far to say that Tyler, the Creator is anti-black. In this same album, he has lyrics that imply an understanding of the racial dynamics that plague people of color in our society. As someone who sees interpersonal connection (through romantic love, attraction, affection, etc.) as something that transcends barriers of race, class, etc.— this preference reads problematic.
That aside, the music is strong and alive. He clearly hasn’t lost any of the brash nature he brought to the scene, but through the questions he asks, the advice he gives, the idea(l)s he shares, and the desires he confesses, it’s easy to see that Tyler, the Creator has found his place in more than just the industry/game, but in the world. Here's to more growth and more music.