There are a lot of weirdos in the entertainment industry and Tyler Okonma — better known as Tyler, the Creator — is one of them. To some, being weird is a lifestyle and a term of endearment, and the rest? Well, who cares about them?
Okonma is a celebration of the creativity that emerges from weirdness, his name an apt reflection of such. The 26-year-old rapper is known for his work as a solo artist as well as being the ringleader and co-founder of the unconventional hip-hop collective Odd Future. As a self-identified creator, though, his work goes far beyond the music sphere.
The multihyphenate’s career includes a litany of vocations such as record producer, music video director, visual artist, clothing designer, streaming media maven, music festival host, sketch comic, Viceland personality, Adult Swim character and an assortment of other trades.
At the core of his creative endeavors, however, is his music. Performing is a constant on his agenda as he is currently on a world tour with more than 30 dates in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, France, Germany and an upcoming shows on Jan. 29 and 30 with Vince Staples and Taco at the SF Armory.
Okonma’s unapologetic musical style and class-clownery attract a generation of teen (and adult) outcasts who connect with his honest and sometimes comical lyrics. On his 2009 debut album, Bastard, Okonma introduces a fictional therapist-like character named Dr. TC to whom he divulges his feelings and frustrations. Dr. TC may also be an oracle, as he makes predictions about Okonma’s future musical projects. In addition to his fun with character development, Bastard contains various jabs at hip-hop critics and blogs that didn’t support his music. But his raw, straightforward rap garnered Okonma widespread critical acclaim.
Since then, he’s released Goblin in 2011, Wolf in 2013, Cherry Bomb in 2015 and Flower Boy in 2017. Each album features a different facet of Okonma, Wolf being a unique effort as it was released after his Odd Future partner and close friend Frank Ocean came out about his sexuality. His hubris on Bastard and Goblin were toned down, and Wolf revealed a different style of songwriting as well as Okonma’s true nature as an introvert.
In addition to musical success, Okonma has also become a trendsetter in the fashion world. According to a 2016 interview with GQ, Okonma said he believes everyone dresses the same — dad hats, ripped jeans, band shirts — and his own ethos is a salute to the weird and a flick to the ear of all that is typical. Playfulness is something that comes across in the branding of his many creations. Golf Wang, for example, is his vibrant clothing line which features geriatric menswear that’s marketed to young, offbeat fashionistas along with his pastel-imbued Golf Le Fleur line; Not the first color palette that comes to mind when imagining a professional rapper.
Tyler, the Creator made dressing like a grandpa cool, got men to rock pink sneakers with flowers on them, and is a voice for the outcasts who walk to the beat of their own hi-hat. Whatever he creates next, his loyal following of pranksters and weirdos will happily devour.
Tyler, the Creator, with Vince Staples and Taco, Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 29-30, 6:45 p.m., at the SF Armory, 333 14th St. $45; tickets.