Tyler Gregory Okonma is one of the biggest names in rap right now. If you haven't heard of him, odds are that the teenage kid living down the street has.
Okonma is also known as Tyler, The Creator.
(Warning: the following video clip contains explicit language that is NSFW and may be offensive to some people.)
Tyler, the Creator is founder of the hip hop, collective group, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. He's a controversial figure and his raps have led to accusations of misogyny, racism and violence. Regardless — at the age of 22 — he's built a movement.
Besides music, he has a clothing line and a store in the Fairfax district, which draws visitors from around the world. He directs commercials and has a show on Adult Swim called Loiter Squad.
He also directs music videos.
Having grown up in Hawthorne, Tyler, the Creator wasn't born into fame. He explains in an interview with Take Two host A Martinez that he's spent a lot of time sleeping on other peoples' sofas while trying to build his career.
Earlier this week, Martinez sat down with the rap star at his office in Burbank to talk about what life was like then, and what it's like now. He will be performing this weekend — along with the rest of the Odd Future crew — at their second annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at the LA Coliseum.
Below are highlights from our interview. Scroll to the bottom to hear Tyler, the Creator's latest album, WOLF. You can also listen to our conversation with him in its entirety on the left.
Tyler on growing up in Hawthorne:
"Hawthorne sucks... It's a crazy place, and I'm happy that I was the weird one that got out."
"Whether it was the music I liked or the things that I looked up on the Internet, it was different than everyones thought process out there... That weirdness turned into me getting out of there, and it's just weird because the same people that are calling me weird are still stuck out there and probably hate their life."
On who he liked to listen to growing up:
"A lot of Pharrell, a lot of Eminem, a lot of Dave Chapelle, a lot of Family Guy. Seth is an amazing writer... Erykah Badu..."
On his relationship with his mother:
"I wish [my mom and me] were closer, I guess yeah, I'm just so busy now... yeah we don't talk a lot."
His feelings about not growing up with a father:
"I'm actually stoked. I think if I had one, I probably would have been into sports. In college, paying off debts like every other person..."
He says that he would have been fundamentally different if he grew up with a father: "Humans have voids and you need things to fill voids... I didn't have a dad to fill that male model void, so when I heard Eminem or freaking seen Dave Chapelle that's what I gravitated to. That's like anyone... That's why certain people are so easily influenced. Because they don't know themselves and that's coming for a void that they probably can't even tell you... and there's kids that gravitate to me, cause they're missing that void. That 13-year-old, 14-year-old, that dress just like me probably doesn't have a dad."
On being worried if people will grow out of liking his music:
"Hopefully by then, I've invested enough money in something where I can continue to make a bunch of money and I don't have to worry about that... But I'm into so many different things that I think that people will continue to find me interesting."
On the last time he slept on his grandmother's floor:
"[It] was probably June of 2011. I moved to this little place in Los Angeles with my mom and sister. That was just because I was touring. Got off from tour... stayed there for a year. In May of 2012, I moved into this nice place in Hollywood — nice house, four stories... and then literally I moved from there... two months ago and I bought my own house and I just own it."
On rocketing to fame:
"Like it's so crazy. I'm just grateful. I'm grateful I can just go to Amoeba and buy all the DVDs and CDs I want. I went last night and bought MIA's album and Eminem's album and a Norman Connors record and I was just so happy because nothing's changed with me. Like I dress the exact same as I did four years ago... when I was like seven years old, all the money I got from my birthday and the stuff I wanted for Christmas was just CDs... and now it's sick like I have the money to just go to Amoeba and just get as many as I want. Nothing's changed at all."
"The thing with money is uh, like I know what it's like to be on the other side of that and that's a void. You know when you're broke it's like f**k... but that's a void that I never ever want to have to fill again... so that financial security is one thing that I always need. I want to make as much money as I possibly can so that when my day comes my mother and sister is fine. My close friends are fine. They don't have to worry about anything ever again."
On what he wants to do when he gets older:
"I want to design jewelry for girls and guys... I'ma spread it out, but I'ma design, probably when I'm just designing furniture and buildings I'll probably being the jewelry thing too."
On his Odd Future store revamping the Fairfax District:
"It's my fault, everyone that's over there, everyone that's over there I'm sorry about the amount of tourists that come over there... I've done almost every interview over there... like people, oh those Fairfax guys... oh I knew you'd be over here. Oh where you from? The Ukraine. Oh you knew I would be over here."
On critics who have called his music racist, misogynist and violent:
"I don't know, I don't really care. My fans don't either... I try to preach to everyone to form their own opinion. And people who write that stuff is just so idiotic and they just... need something so that freaking main editor-in-chief could take their freaking review and put it somewhere... I know exactly where they're coming from, but that's just people who's just looking at the surface..."
"The more that they do that the better it is for me when people actually notice how freakin' talented I am at 22 and at the things that I create. Then they're like oh crap, he's not what this person is saying and everyone has a whole changed outlook. That's the best. That's the most awesome thing."
On peoples biggest misconception about him:
"Some people get this misconception that I'm an idiot because they might look at my twitter feed and read that and say this guy's an idiot, he couldn't write a sentence to save his life. Or might listen to the things that I might say on a song or look at the TV show and they think that persona is... stupid. And then some people meet me and might have a conversation with me... and see that I'm actually intelligent and I'm aware of everything and then they're like whoa. Like this guy isn't an idiot. Then they look at everything in a different way. That's awesome."
Listen to Tyler the Creator's latest album, WOLF
(Warning: the following music contains explicit language that is NSFW and may be offensive to some people.)