Concert Reviews

Take a Journey with Tyler, the Creator

By Arshon Howard 

Tyler, The Creator has come a long way from being a rebellious teenager marginalizing and upsetting people with his misogynistic and homophobic lyrics as Odd Future’s front man to an artist who has fully blossomed. 

His mischievous character and masterful showmanship was on full display at this year’s eighth annual Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, this past June. 

Fans were captivated by his stage presence and performance. During his past sets, they would have expected to endure mosh pits and fans or even Tyler himself crowd surfing, but lately that ball of energy has been channeled into a more laid back approach with glimpses of his teenage years. 

During the first half of his set on June 21, he wore a wig and highlighter-yellow suit while blazing through songs off of his recent release, IGOR. 

The album features input from plenty of high-profile collaborators, including Solange, Kanye West, Charlie Wilson, and Lil Uzi Vert. But the cover art proudly proclaims that all 12 tracks, which chart a painful breakup, were “written, produced and arranged by Tyler Okonma.”

No band accompanied him at the Firefly Festival, just a hard drive and Odd Future member Jasper, who was his DJ for the night. 

“Don’t f*** this up,” Tyler joked at one point in the show. “It’s his first time DJing.” 

By the time he broke into his single “EARFQUAKE,” the packed crowd went wild. They sang along in unison to the song’s affectious chorus. 

Don’t leave, it’s my fault
Don’t leave, it’s my fault
Don’t leave, it’s my fault

That’s all you heard from Tyler and the crowd as Jasper stripped away the beat. Then, in a blink of an eye, Jasper dropped the hard-hitting instrumental right on cue to everyone singing along. 

Tyler produces innovative rap music while maintaining a goofy, unpretentious attitude. His penchant for outlandish lyrics and colorful videos as the leader of the rap collective Odd Future has earned him a reputation as hip hop’s resident oddball. 

Flower Boy

The rapper first gained internet traction with his 2009 mixtape Bastard and released his fifth studio album IGOR in 2019 to widespread critical acclaim.

Tyler blessed the crowd with a pleasant mix of songs from all of his albums, but he didn’t forget the fans who had been with him since day one. “Can I do some old songs?” he asked. The crowd cheered louder as the beat of “IFHY” poured out of the speakers. 

He then followed up with songs like “Tamale,” “Who Dat Boy,” and “I Ain’t Got Time” as everyone erupted in excitement. Song after song, the fans relived the moments that turned them into Tyler fans. 

In between songs, the audience got a glimpse of Tyler’s personality. A girl threw her bra on stage, and Tyler jokingly told her how stupid she was.  “Why are you doing this?” he asked. “Do your parents know you’re doing this? You’re f***ing stupid. Hey everyone in the crowd, boo her.” 

The crowd obeyed and booed her in unison. She then threw her cell phone on stage. Tyler responded, “I’m going to keep this.” He then grabbed her phone, took a selfie on it, and handed it back to her, calling her stupid again. 

In response, she threw her bra back on stage, and Tyler declared, “This girl is crazy. What are your intentions?”

She replied, “You.” 

“Your intentions are me? You must not know me very well.” 

The whole crowd let out an “ohhhhhhh.” It was either a fun remark to say in the moment or a sarcastic statement about his sexuality, which is still ambiguous. 

When he released Flower Boy in 2017, Tyler, the Creator fans quickly noticed some of the lyrics seemed like a coming out statement. 

On a track called “I Ain’t Got Time,” Tyler raps, “I been kissing white boys since 2004.” He also talks about struggling to hide who is in “Garden Shed”: “Truth is, since you kid, I thought it was a phase / Thought it would be like the Frank poof, gone / But, it’s still going on.”

Whatever the case may be, fans have watched Tyler evolve and grow over the years. He’s a practiced showman, as evidenced in his sets and stage presence. 

He created a personal experience for his fans who have followed him since he was a teenager as well as for the new fans that have just caught on to his music. It seems like the Flower Boy has finally blossomed into the man and artist he always wanted to be. 

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