Tyler, The Creator
M ore melancholy than the epically depressed Kid Cudi. More lyrically violent than Eminem on his bloodiest day. More fond of pentagrams and upside-down crosses than the entire Slayer catalog: Tyler, The Creator.
Born Tyler Gregory Okonma, the hip-hop mastermind behind the group Odd Future turns 22 on March 6. He shares his birthday with Michelangelo -- a bit of poetic justice, because Tyler's diverse output is worthy of the term "Renaissance man." He creates all the album art for Odd Future as well as most of the merch, produces videos and helms the Odd Future clothing line. He also realized a childhood dream when he starred in his own sketch comedy show, "Loiter Squad," on Adult Swim.
But he has been quiet of late. Last year came and went without the scheduled release of his solo record "Wolf," the expected follow-up to 2011's "Goblin," an album in which he comes across as misanthropic plus one.
In parts of "Goblin," described by some as "horrorcore," Tyler's disdain for the audience is palpable. And there are times when you feel as if he's bored by your interest in him. But the critics are right: It's a good record and he's an important musician.
He's so over the top and relentless that you can't help but lean in and listen to his music. And, after a bit, you're in on the joke. Tyler is all about macabre humor and he has never met a sacred cow he didn't want to skewer. His love of the F-bomb is second to none; bleeping the curse words out of his music would make his records sound as though he added a new member called MC Morse Code.
Then again, Tyler is also a guy who may show up wearing a hot-pink T-shirt he designed featuring a kitten taking a bite out of a rainbow.
Every generation needs a movement or a person who rebels deeply, even without a cause. James Dean he's not, but Tyler's profound nihilism will make you uncomfortable. It will also make you think. Because when Tyler lobs verbal grenades at everything in his path, you can't help but be reminded of the Russian anarchist who said, "The urge to destroy is a creative urge." Even if that quote is woefully lacking an F-bomb or eight.
Tyler, The Creator plays at Belly Up Aspen on Jan. 25 as part of the X Games MUSIC showcase. Buy your tickets here.
XGames.com: I hear you have something to tell us about Boulder, Colo.?
Tyler, The Creator: I love Boulder, that's my hometown. It gets wild out there.
You're almost mile-high, huh?
[Excited.] Yeah, I went to Boulder High. You feel me? Skated Boulder Skate Park -- you know that's where I'm from.
[Tyler was born and bred in South Los Angeles. -- Ed.]
Big Broncos fan?
[Excitement evaporates.] Yeah. Whatever. I'm not really into sports.
You said on "Goblin" that you don't skate anymore. But that was a few years ago. Are you skating these days?
Kind of, sort of. When I get a chance to.
What spots do you hit in L.A.?
You know, around. When I have the time. The dirty. You feel me? The dirty. Around. Wherever we could.
You recently tweeted, "ASPEN IS MY FIRST SOLO SHOW IM SKERED YALL." Can you talk about that?
I'm pretty nervous, but it will be tight.
What do you have planned?
I don't know. It's probably going to be really s---ty, to tell you the truth.
Do you have special guests lined up?
No, no, no -- no special guests. Just me on stage for 40 minutes, yelling.
Have you been to Aspen before?
Nah, I've never been to Aspen, actually. I've seen snow once, so I'm pretty nervous about how that's going to go. I just drove through it; I've never really been in it. I'm gonna try [snowboarding] for sure.
You mix up with cute imagery like kittens and rainbows with upside-down crosses. The juxtapositions are great; are you laughing while you're designing?
I don't know. I just do it because I be bored and I be on Photoshop. It looks cool to me, so I just do it.
How computer literate are you?
I'm pretty decent. I'm, like, average. I can't really do much cool s---. That's why every design looks the same.
What do you have planned for 2013?
I'm kind of over music right now. I'm starting to paint a lot more. Hopefully that goes well, and if not I'll find some other way.
Tyler, that's all we have for you.
Hell yeah. You're wild. You're a beast. You're a monster.