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Tyler's year

2019 saw the ultimate success of Tyler, The Creator

Tyler's year 2019 saw the ultimate success of Tyler, The Creator

During adolescence, there is always a boy or a girl who stands out immediately. The way he or she dresses and talks, the relationship with the authorities, the music taste - everything is "strange". It is not part of any social group and is a bit scary, because it puts people in front of specificities in the character of an individual that most children do not yet have the maturity to face.

Tyler, The Creator has surely been one of those guys who, by virtue of his uniqueness, indirectly made uncomfortable his peers and other people. An overflowing personality, difficult to deal with, first of all for himself. It cannot be by chance that in twelve years of school he attended twelve different institutions; not to mention the fact that at the age of sixteen, in 2007, he had already founded Odd Future, the collective that would have largely rewritten the aesthetics and content of hip-hop in the new millennium. It is something that can be said for many artists, but today (in the music world) no one more than Tyler seems to have exploited his idiosyncrasies to build a bulletproof character, so "strong" to defeat prejudice and mistrust. 2019 was for Tyler, The Creator the year in which this effort finally achieved total mainstream recognition: IGOR was his first album to become platinum, the second to receive a Grammy Award nomination. He then definitively conquered the world of fashion with his unique taste, both with the GOLF le FLEUR * collections and with collaborations with top world brands - Converse and Lacoste above everyone else.


Tyler's journey has lasted now more than ten years and during 2019 found his most important consecration. It was immediately clear that the connection between his music and aesthetic sense had become stronger than ever, starting with the first video-teasers in which the mysterious IGOR character appeared on everyone's screens. A red line that has always been there, also thanks to Tyler's synaesthesia, a "disease" which makes it possible to visualize sounds in the form of colors; a pathology common to many creatives, including Pharrell Williams, that Tyler himself has always indicated as his greatest source of inspiration. The sounds of Tyler's latest album are few and distinct, spreaded within all the tracks of the LP. The main actors are bass and synths of analogue taste, grainy and almost totalizing in covering the sound spectrum; oneiric vocal arrangements, halfway between rap and sung; piano everywhere; the drum sound is also very analogic, far from the lethal kicks and basses of 808. Being made of just a few sounds the LP sounds like a single block of color. It is extremely vivid and creative, just like the whole aesthetic that accompanied and followed the work. The costume of Igor is the perfect complement to the music, together they form a brilliant combo. Tyler has succeeded in dragging us into his world, concentrating on an aesthetic-sound synthesis effort that has brought into focus elements already present in his art but in a more understandable and “pop” way - one of the reasons why many have criticized the recent Grammy nomination in the "best rap album" category. It worked so well that beyond all the awards received this year (the last one being the "Music Innovator 2019" award from The Wall Street Journal) today it is impossible to think of Tyler without associating him with that precise aesthetic, the pastel colors, the deep voice, that crazy blond wig. It is as if he managed to make all his fans synaesthetic - we hear his music and we think of "his" colors and vice versa.


This creative effort seems to have been functional on two very different levels: by virtue of a success free from contracts or binding partnerships today Tyler is perhaps creatively freer than ever; at the same time he has refined a process of "brandization" of his aesthetic that makes it immediately recognizable, embodying in a sort of “gold touch”: every collection or collaboration he follows is a certified banger. Tyler played a leading role in the revival of Vans and the explosion of Supreme: it contributed to the expansion of Vans in the urban and hip-hop world, dragging it out of a difficult period and the exclusive cult of skate culture ; Supreme has gone from being a brand for a select few who knew the small shop of James Jebbia to the epitome of the modern concept of "hype culture”. Today the numbers speak for themselves. There’s a pre and post Tyler Converse and an important repositioning of the Lacoste brand thanks to the collection he edited a few months ago. Its characteristic colorful and "clean" aesthetic is now closer to a classic and more adult style, compared to the eternal teenage skater look that a has made him famous. Colorful outfits, floral motifs and color choices seem to draw heavily from a sixties aesthetic (very “white”) - which is also perfectly consistent with the sound of his most recent music.

This success is also cause and effect of a historic moment of great redefinition of African-American masculinity, a process within which Tyler himself has played a leading role since its beginnings in the industry. He and many of his most frequent collaborators and friends such as Asap Rocky, Jaden Smith, Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean and all the former Odd Future comrades, started with music and have more and more knocked down aesthetic and taboo stereotypes related to African American male sexuality. With the new GOLF FLEUR * collection and the aforementioned collaborations, Tyler has provided in fashion also a new possibility of identification for those African-American boys (and girls) who, like him, grew up not being “the maximum of masculinity, I didn’t like sports, but pink and bright colors ".


GQ wonders why, given this resounding worldwide success, there is still the feeling that there’s not the right recognition for the work of the twenty-eight year old Californian. It almost seems that, despite the recognition that is bestowed on him, a subtle vein of irony remains in the background, towards his character and his work. To take Tyler seriously arouses the same feeling as when we meet a friend who years ago was a complete prick, of whom we know all the wickedness and the stupid things done. Doesn’t matter that he is now a respected and successful professional, our view of him will always be filtered from that perspective. Tyler certainly contributes to this sensation: there are moments, especially the more "official" and boring ones (like interviews or ceremonies) in which its original madness returns to explode and takes you back in time - to the savage beginnings of Odd Future. Even more interesting is how deadly serious are for Tyler many things considered superfluous or luxury by most of society: clothes and style above all, music, personal care and certain aspects of personality; everything is gutted in such a specific and technical way that it is almost excessive. For him, they are key elements that define his life, his art and the relationship with the people around him. This subtle basic irony is also what has allowed him to get by in all situations, even the thorniest: we can never understand when Tyler, The Creator is serious or is kidding us: this is also part of his “weird” magnetism.

The most interesting question to ask now, having arrived at the end of the  ’10 of twenty-first century, is: what happens now?

It’s clear that 2019 was the year of consecration, also considering the mentioned conflicting sensations. The fact is that this consecration took place given a specific refinement of characteristics that Tyler has explored since the beginning of his career. The result is a musical-aesthetic monolith, in some ways polarizing in judgments but certainly impossible to ignore - iconic. Moving around easily after building something so specific and "finished" may not be easy. It will therefore be very interesting to understand how Tyler, The Creator will decide to come to terms with the results achieved during this year - the result of years of work. Perhaps we will see Tyler engage in something that we would not have even thought about; judging from recent interviews and statements he himself seems to have no idea what his next moves will be. The mantra, however, remains the same since 2011, when the former "strange" teenager revealed in an interview what to date remains the key to his success and the reason for the boundless love of his fans: "I Think I'm cool. That’s all that matters. "