Two years ago Tyler, The Creator thrust himself into the mainstream, jumped on Jimmy Fallon’s back and caused the artist formerly known as Mos Def to viscerally shout, “SWAG! SWAG! SWAG!”
Since then, he’s released one pretty good but uneven solo album, an equally so-so collabo Odd Future album and got tacked onto the end of Channel Orange, the album of the year, as a throw away hidden track. He’s received no radio traction and has been regulated to nothing more than the random Complex blog post here and there.
What happened? This guy was suppose to be the future of rap. In two years he’s only had one hit. And that’s only if you count popular YouTube videos as hits. And by that measure what’s the difference between Tyler and Kreayshawn? Okay, that’s a low blow. I mean have you heard Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay? If you haven’t, don’t.
Tyler is still young. He’s only 21. He has a lot of career left. I even once compared him to a young Eminem (I wasn’t alone). But after asserting himself as the leader of Odd Future, he’s already lost footing in his own entourage. Think Vinnie Chase post-Medellin. He’s been totally eclipsed by Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt may have passed him too.
Was Tyler just a gimmick disguised in cool 5-panel hats and graphic button ups? Is he a one hit wonder? Is he little more than a foul mouthed hype man?
I’ll tell you what I think.
I think he’s a good technical rapper who puts together rhyme schemes in an interesting way. I think he’s a totally underrated producer who strings along catchy abrasive beats. I think he’s 21 and bereft of any life experience that could fill a full album. I think he’s hip-hop’s version of punk rock. I think he has the talent to possibly recapture some of his buzz, but I mostly think he’s done. A fad, like those 5-panel hats and graphic button ups he’s so smitten with, doomed to a life of tumblr reblogs and little else.
But I’m rooting for him. Since Eminem stopped being Eminem twelve years ago, rap has been at a loss for a strong anti-hero. Hip-hop needs an Anti-hero. Someone hostile, politically incorrect, who gives a big middle finger to the Lou Pearlman and/or Scooter Braun pop machine. It’s either going to be Tyler or Chief Keef. For the sake of hip-hop, let’s all hope it’s going to be Tyler.