As part of our 35th-anniversary, we’re naming the most influential artists of the past 35 years. Today, we’re at #29. From Los Angeles, California, here is Tyler, the Creator.
Introducing himself as a shock rapper with exceptional production skills on his 2009 mixtape, Bastard, a young Tyler, the Creator took over the underground by helping build up the careers of his Odd Future group mates — including Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt and the Internet — as the collective’s mainstay. Odd Future [aka Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All or OFWGKTA] exploded out of Los Angeles in the early 2010s, becoming trendsetters sonically and culturally. The group’s explosive, nihilistic stage show was was a callback to ’90s hardcore combined with their hip-hop sensibilities.
Odd Future played festivals, with Tyler creating his own with Camp Flog Gnaw that became a staple on the Los Angeles concert calendar. The fest combined carnival games, rides with music. Soon enough, the members of Odd Future became bigger individually, which wouldn’t have happened with Tyler being the ringmaster of the show and the group’s visionary.
But once Tyler pushed into the groovy production of later records Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy, the rapper-producer showed he didn’t need to say crazy shit to sell records. He capitalized on melodies instead of fake threats to Bruno Mars’ life, putting it all on the line with 2019’s IGOR and letting out his inner Teddy Pendergrass for a record of R&B cuts that challenged the convention of boxing artists into genres altogether.
In short, the Flower Boy blossomed — and became a cultural icon in the process.