Fire Starter

Tyler, the Creator pushes everyone's buttons, but still cares about what his fans think

Hide your women and children, Tyler, the Creator comes to Spokane Tuesday.
Hide your women and children, Tyler, the Creator comes to Spokane Tuesday.

He shouted at the crowd to shove through the gates. "Push! Push! Push!" began the chant.

Soon fans just outside of the already packed-in Tyler, the Creator show at the 2014 South By Southwest festival burst through the barrier, worrying powerless security enough to cut the sound immediately — understandably so, as just one day prior, two people had died and 23 were injured (two more eventually died) after a car drove into a SXSW crowd. This led to the MC's arrest later that evening for inciting a riot, and later a misdemeanor charge.

Seemingly everywhere he goes, Tyler, the Creator (aka Tyler Okonma) knows how to rile people up. Earlier this year, while performing at the arid Coachella, the rapper called out the celebrity-filled VIP section for not even caring about the music. Kendall Jenner flipped him the bird. At another show in England he dared a kid to eat vomit on stage. The fan took a bite and swallowed.

The California rapper is a conundrum. While Tyler, the Creator never claimed to be a role model — as he pointed out on the first lines of his sophomore effort Goblin — young alt-rappers everywhere look up to him for his goofball appearance, long-winded diatribes, creative and hard-hitting beats and even his fresh 1990s attire.

But still there are issues. He uses the other F word on his Twitter account and in song lyrics and has been denounced by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, yet strongly supports his openly gay Odd Future collaborator Frank Ocean. His lyrics are so raunchy (and often describe rape), that one Australian feminist activist group has called for the cancellation of his upcoming tour through the country. One minute it appears the rapper doesn't care what fans think. The next, like last week, he's on Reddit explaining himself to a dissatisfied fan who wishes his new album Cherry Bomb was more depressive, like the old stuff.

"Sorry for being me, i apologize in advance cause IM GONNA CONTINUE TO DO THAT FOREVER [sic]," the 24-year-old wrote in a lengthy and grammatically challenged missive.

Since being named Best New Artist at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Tyler, the Creator continues to get bigger. His shows — thrilling, sweaty affairs, where the light show is just as colorful as the flows — continue to attract more fans.

Next Tuesday — this gives you ample warning, in case you want to hide the women and children — Tyler, the Creator comes to Spokane for the first time in two years. He's coming here to get a reaction out of us, and to make us think. No matter what, it's clear that this MC will continue to push. ♦

Tyler, the Creator with Taco • Tue, June 30, at 8 pm • $23 • All-ages • Knitting Factory • 919 W. Sprague • • 244-3279

Spilt Milk, Cuchulain, Rosie CQ @ Lucky You Lounge

Fri., Oct. 22, 8 p.m.
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About The Author

Laura Johnson

Laura moved to the great Inland Pacific Northwest this summer. She is the Inlander's new music editor.