Three years ago, Tyler, The Creator set out "to scare the fuck out of old white fucking people that live in middle fucking America" (tweeted in all caps) before he introduced himself to the world on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (igniting the careers of his entire Odd Future rap crew in the process). Today, he sells more socks than records.
On paper, that sounds like a sign of failure. In reality, it’s the latest in a long list of of reasons why the hyperactive 23-year-old is one of the most interesting figures in hip-hop. True to his stage name, Tyler is more than just a rapper—he’s the creator of his own cat-centric media empire that includes album art, music videos, TV shows, films, T-shirts, jackets, hats, and yes: socks. Built on the foundation of an ADHD-riddled personality that’s bubbling with creativity and goofy aesthetics, he’s created his own alternate audio-visual world that’s spawned a subculture of youthful fans who would do anything to live in it.
Of course, socks and goofy videos aside, music will always be at the center of Tyler’s world. Although his early material carried a dark and menacing vibe, Tyler’s musical palette has brightened and now incorporates the charismatic personality that has long been evident in interviews but which remained largely hidden from his songs. And while Tyler’s impossibly low voice endures, his newer material has taken on a decidedly lighter tone. He's also ditched the signature, threatening ski mask of his early performances for a public persona that more closely mirrors the bright fluorescent pastel stitching on his line of Odd Future-branded socks. See for yourself when you watch his video for “Tamale” at the bottom of this page.
After multiple stops through Portland with Odd Future over the last few years, Tyler, The Creator will headline the Roseland Theater on Friday, May 23 as he makes his way through on a solo tour, which also includes a stop at Sasquatch on Saturday, May 24—hitting the Bigfoot stage at the Gorge Amphitheatre from 10-11pm.