Tyler the Creator’s new album, Flower Boy was leaked over the weekend, two weeks before the intended release date, and some of his lyrics have been causing quite the stir…
Fans paying close attention to the contents of Tyler’s latest offering have spotted a few lines that seem to confirm what he’s been hinting at for the last few years (and that people have just brushed off as another one of the artist’s controversial comments). The track I Ain’t Got Time features the lyrics “Next line will have them like woah / I been kissing white boys since 2004”; meanwhile, on the track Garden Shed, featuring Estelle, the lines “That was real love I was in, ain’t no reason to pretend / All my friends was lost / They couldn’t read the signs / I didn’t wanna talk / I tell ’em my location and they ain’t want to walk” crop up.
After repeated use of homophobic slurs on his first album, Bastard, back in 2009, he also made some pretty problematic comments in a 2011 interview with NME: “I’m not homophobic, I just think ‘faggot’ hurts people. It hits. And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids. We don’t think about that shit. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic.”
There have been repeated hints to his potential sexuality in the last couple of years, such as a 2015 tweet the sentiments of which those Garden Shed lyrics seem to repeat. The same year, he responded to speculation that he was dating Kendall Jenner, saying “not possible, we’re both gay”, and also released a t-shirt that reworked a white supremacist symbol with a rainbow.
I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) 13 April 2015
So what does this mean? Is Tyler the Creator gay or bisexual? It’s difficult to tell. The rapper has become known for his divisive comments and lyrics, even being turned away at the UK border in 2015 (and in New Zealand the year before), deemed to be “posing a threat to public order”; a letter released by the UK Home Office stated: “Your albums Bastard, in 2009, and Goblin, in 2011, are based on the premise of your adopting a mentally unstable alter ego who describes violent physical abuse, rape and murder in graphic terms which appears to glamourise this behaviour.”
Nevertheless, it would be great if these revelations about the Odd Future artist were based in truth. Hip hop and rap has long been criticized for its intolerance of homosexuality, as Frank Ocean discussed after coming out in a letter to his fans in 2016. Tyler’s use of homophobic slurs could be seen from the perspective of somebody grappling with defining their sense of their own sexuality; they could also shine a light on the internalized homophobia experienced by many queer people even after coming out. All else aside, it would be great to have another openly LGBTQ+ figure in the public eye, particularly considering Tyler’s musical background.
Flower Boy is set to be officially released July 21. Featured image cover of Flower Boy.