The lead story in today’s Arts section of the New York Times features Tyler the Creator of Odd Future… & in case you don’t realize, that is a HUGE deal. The story takes a closer look into Tyler’s album Goblin, his lyrics, his crazy character, and the effect of being an overnight-sensation has had on his life. Check it out after the jump!!


“Angry Rhymes, Dirty Mouth, Goofy Kid”

By John Caramanica

Tyler, the Creator, of the rap group Odd Future, has a new album coming out that will transform him from curiosity to conversation shaper.

“DO the 666 hot pink!”

Tyler, the Creator, said this twice, to let everyone around him know that he was serious.

On a recent Tuesday one of his managers was on the phone at her dining-room table, talking to a person making custom outfits for Tyler and his crew, Odd Future. (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, for the wordy.) The 666 was to be the number on Tyler’s baseball jersey. The hot pink made him laugh. And he likes to stand out.

For that he doesn’t really need the jersey. Over the past few months Tyler and Odd Future have been speeding from the margins of the Internet toward the center of forward-thinking music circles thanks to a barrage of self-released albums, mayhem-inducing live performances and an ability — at this point, it’s verging on desire — to instantly polarize listeners.

Tyler is Odd Future’s central rapper and producer and also its main visual artist, merchandise designer and video director. He’s the crew figurehead and its raison d’être. On Tuesday he will release “Goblin” (XL), the first album of his on a proper label, and the one that will transform him from curiosity to conversation shaper.

“Goblin” is spiteful, internal, confident, vitriolic, vividly bruised stuff, a shocking — and shockingly good — album that bears little resemblance to contemporary hip-hop. It has more in common with the stark, thick-with-feelings independent rap of the mid-to-late-1990s and also the improbably rich-sounding minimalism of the Neptunes in the early 2000s. For every caustic rhyme about violence there’s a pensive, unexpectedly gentle production choice to go with it. Unlike the maximalism of hip-hop radio, you can feel the air in these songs, the gasping for breath.

“I’m just a teenager who admits he’s suicide prone,” Tyler raps on the title track. “My life is doing pretty good, so that date is postponed.”

In real life Tyler Okonma is 20 years old, 6 feet 2 inches tall, lanky and sinewy and irrepressibly goofy, with a vibrant antisocial streak. He’s partial to flamboyantly patterned shirts, gym socks pulled up to the knee and desiccated Vans; loves bacon and doughnuts; says he doesn’t drink or do drugs; and can barely get a sentence out without a curse.

Later in the afternoon, after the merchandise details are sorted out, he, his friend Jasper Dolphin, and the co-manager Kelly Clancy went shopping at some discount stores for a golf outfit that he wanted to wear the following day for a video shoot. Along the way, at a party-supply store, he appeared to steal a pack of Justin Bieber stickers; later he tossed a half-full Wendy’s Frosty from the passenger seat of Ms. Clancy’s Porsche S.U.V. at a group of respectably dressed people lined up near the Grove mall.

Juvenile stuff, all of it. “I never want to grow up,” Tyler said later that day, in the backyard of his manager’s house, holding a long-coveted Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants toy watch he bought on eBay for $6.

He’s nurtured now, shielded. He wanted a trampoline for his birthday and got one. Keeping Tyler happy, and focused, is everyone’s priority.

Bigger questions loom, though. With imagery depicting rampant drug use, systemic violence against women, and any number of other distasteful things, Odd Future has become the flashpoint for reigniting the culture wars in hip-hop for a generation that hasn’t previously experienced them, that didn’t realize culture wars were still a possibility. No act in recent memory has engendered so many think pieces about music, think pieces about critics and think pieces about think pieces. Are the group’s lyrics reports of literal desires? The goofs of misguided kids? Does the difference matter?

“They don’t know me; they don’t get it,” Tyler said of critics. “Weren’t they 18 years old at some point, just having fun?”

Read the rest HERE