Steve Wood, 28, reviews Tyler, the Creator Sydney concert
"Victim, victim, honey you’re my fifth one”
“Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome.”
- Tyler, the Creator
It began with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship investigating whether or not to allow Tyler, the Creator into the country. The enquiry was spurred on by feminist activist group Collective Shout. Active member, Talitha Stone, had tweeted plans to protest the rappers' presence at a record signing in Sydney. Tyler re-tweeted it to his 1.7 million followers. Talitha Stone then received an onslaught of rape and violent threats online. At the Enmore Theatre on Thursday 6th of June, Tyler unleashed to a sold-out crowd, claiming that “a woman” had tried to stop him from coming to Australia. He called this woman a 'c*nt' and 'a whore', and wished STD’s upon her children. It’s not hard to guess who the woman he was referring to was.
Shrouded in controversy, Tyler lyrically assaulted Sydney on Thursday night, performing under the Earlwolf banner, alongside fellow rapper Earl Sweatshirt.
Amazingly, the gig was an all ages outing, and by no means did the amazement and bewilderment stop there. Surrounded by teenagers who sang along to the twisted rape fantasies of a twenty something year old rapper, it didn't take long to realise that I was in strange territory. I couldn't scream in support as Tyler slaughtered a woman's dignity by calling her 'a bitch'. I had no interest in thrashing my body to oblivion when he encouraged a circle pit during the gig. I struggled to digest all that I was hearing and seeing.
At 28 years of age, surely I wasn't too old and prudish for these 'shock antics'? And wasn't it just a handful of years ago that I was singing along to Eminem tracks as a kid? Is Eminem any different, given he raps about kidnapping his baby mother and stuffing her in the boot?
But he is. So, very different. Eminem has something that seems to escape Tyler – he’s intelligent enough to craft social commentaries about a troubled existence. He raps about a life that is tainted by violence and rape and crime, but he frames his raps from the perspective of a person who isn’t happy to be within that world. He doesn’t glorify what he raps about, he paints those parts of his life in a negative light.
Tyler's raps, on the other hand, reek of controversy because he thinks it’s cool. He’s unapologetic about crime and violence towards women, almost to the point of seeming humoured by it (but no more so than he seems humoured by himself). His songs are advertisements for masochistic behaviour, and the only reason behind that seems to be to shock, and to assert himself as different from the norm. That, backed up by his ‘f*ck you’ attitude, is precisely what Talitha Stone encountered, when she attended the gig on Thursday night, and witnessed first hand a verbal assault against her. Tyler's motto? If you can’t handle his kind of heat, then get the f*ck out, shut up, or be verbally assaulted at a sold out gig, like Talitha Stone.
Musically, the gig was also an all-out assault. Tyler ferociously spat his raps at an almighty pace, and gave them over with an undercurrent of heavy bass lines which made it hard to differentiate one song from the next. Earl Sweatshirt bought the pace down a level, and it was a welcome relief from the tirade of abuse that Tyler had been giving from the get-go. Earl had a carefree intelligence about him, with self-assured rhymes that were actually decipherable. He had real stories to tell, rather than just screaming nonsensical controversy at a young and impressionable crowd.
I'm male, 28, and have only the utmost respect for both the men and women that fill my life, and that respect is all it takes to dread the impact that this kind of music can have. I hope better for the people in my life. I hope that they don’t promote the brand of violence that Tyler so cheaply and crudely peddles, or join him in his bigoted, homophobic, and sexist mindset. I hope that no human being is ever the target of the barbaric behaviour and attitudes that he deploys.
This world is a f*cked up place. Rape happens. Murder happens. Violence happens. Perhaps Tyler knows and has experienced that all too well, but his music doesn't simply depict the misfortune of his world. His work directs listeners to entertain thoughts of rape, murder, and violence. He might not explicitly tell his fans to do all of the above, but never once, does he offer an opinion that there’s anything wrong with being ‘that kind of man’ or give an alternative to leading a better life.
Readers, if you’ve stayed with me to the end of this piece, then you are all better and deserve more than what Tyler has to offer you.
As published on The Dwarf