When Tyler the Creator, 20, stepped onto MTV’s VMA stage to accept his Moonman for Best New Artist in August, he delivered an acceptance speech reflective of both his questionable intellect and contagious effervescence:
"Yo, I'm excited as f--- right now, yo," he said. "I wanted this sh-- since I was 9. I'm about to cry. This is for my little brother Earl. He's not here right now. I really can't believe I'm here right now. I didn't write a thank you speech. I don't know. F---. To all the kids watching, you can do this sh--. Thank you."
As his tearful mother beamed with pride, crying and jumping in the air, the mastermind behind the latest Hip-Hop group to diminish the value of the culture, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), bounced off the stage with his “entourage” --- a flurry of skinny jeans and misguided potential.
In watching a replay of the emotional moment, I’m left wondering if Mom realized that a month later her son, born Tyler Okonma, would be a “young nigga’?
Known for the intrinsic paradox of his misogynist, homophobic and humorous lyrics, Tyler has joined with major label Sony/REDto cause potentially irreparable damage to the psyches of Black youth living in America and around the globe --- electing to rap as his alter ego, “Young Nigga.”
Delighted by the media attention, and content with whoring out a young boy’s ignorance, a statement on the label's website reads:
“While our original intent was not to sign anyone to the label we simply could not pass up the opportunity to sign somebody this talented. Young Nigga embodies the DIY ethic and persona of Odd Future along with a commercial appeal that transcends demographics.”
In other words, “Go out there, shuck and jive and step'n fetchit, ‘nigga.’ The world is watching.”
In an interview with NTE, Tyler was asked about the damaging nature of his lyrics, to which he responded just as society has come to expect from a “young nigga”:
“I’m not homophobic. I just think ‘faggot’ hits and 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 s--t. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic.”
He continued to prove his elementary understanding of complex issues in an interview with MTV, saying that “Well, I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive, so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you. If you call me a nigga, I really don’t care, but that’s just me, personally. Some people might take it the other way; I personally don’t give a sh—.”
The words of a “young nigga.”
Let’s be clear: Tyler the Creator is sick on the mic --- both figuratively and literally. His wordplay is on par with a young Marshall Mathers before the suicide attempts and rehab, blended with the urban, dark horror-core of Flint, Michigan’s Dayton Family.
It’s profoundly perverse and brilliant in its honesty --- with all the guilty magnetism of a fatal car crash. The unrepentant testosterone laced lyrics speak to the alpha-male who beats his chest with the rest of his unevolved pack in marijuana-clouded ciphers around the world, repeating lyrics of violence against women and homosexuals too politically incorrect to say once they re-emerge into polite society. This “young nigga’s” persona allows young white Americans entree into a New Teen Order, where little Black children and little white children come together in a gumbo pot of racial and sexual intolerance, guided by their skateboards and unchecked hormonal imbalances.
Let’s call it Dr. King’s Nightmare.
Boisterous and intense, Tyler’s music speaks to the nature of what Jean Jacques Rousseau called “the noble savage,” and if left to proliferate, will grow like poisonous weeds, choking out any remnants of possibility this generation has to elevate above its parental and societal-prescribed mediocrity.
With lyrics such as, “Rape a pregnant b---h and tell my friends I had a threesome,” and the mind-numbing verbal dexterity of, “I got n-ts to bust, and butts to f--k, and ups to shut, and sluts to f---ing uppercut,” the Tyler the Creator led band of misfits cautions:
“It's OF, buttercup, go ahead, f--k with us.”
No, I’ll pass; thank you. I’ll leave that to police officers, potential employers and society to do since you insist on wearing a sign that screams “Profile Me” around your neck.
Undoubtedly, if this article ever reaches the eyes of Tyler he will take it as a compliment --- another out of touch old lady (in her 30s) being hyper-critical of the metamorphosis of Hip-Hop and its new generation of heroes. He will complain and curse about it on Twitter, and his legions of fan will regurgitate whatever profanity infused vitriol he hurls into cyberspace, eager to protect their favorite “young nigga.”
Ask me if I care.
Acceptance of destructive garbage disguised as art will lead our children into mistaking it as an acceptable social-political position. “Fag” becomes just a generic insult, “slut” becomes just what girls are, and “nigga” becomes just cool slang.
Is this the world we want for our children? Have we become so eager to be seen as tolerant and hip and post-racial that timeless values and historical implications have become archaic concepts?
There is a vast difference between freedom of expression and the imprisonment of ideals, and Tyler the Creator has willingly thrown himself into a filthy media-secured jail cell, where a voyeuristic society --- eager to understand the innermost thoughts of a “young nigga” --- come by to gawk at him like the embarrassment that he is.
I look into this young man’s eyes and see a joy that is irrepressible, an unfettered love for his craft and a redundant rebellion against a society and a system that is designed to see him fail. I listen to him call himself “schizophrenic” and I watch him grasp at every negative characterization that comes with being young and Black in America, attempting to capture and own it before it can be used against him in a public court of presumption.
I get it.
Unfortunately, “getting it” does not lessen my disgust.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011, the state of Georgia murdered a Black man. The Dixiecratic state strapped Troy Davis to a gurney for three hours, holding his life in their hands, finally deciding---along with the United States Supreme Court---that he wasn’t good enough before they lynched him before the world.
They thought he was a “young nigger.”
Rodney Stanberry, imprisoned by the state of Alabama over 15 years ago for crimes he did not commit, has been ignored by our injustice system, while his son continues to grow up without a father.
They think he’s a “young nigger.”
James Craig Anderson was beat viciously, then killed by a group of white supremacists in Mississippi, as screams of “white power” filled the morning air.
They were looking to kill a “ young nigger.”
Every time there is an unsolved murder in the Black community, every time a young Black teenager gives birth, every time a baggy-jeaned, diamond-teethed, no talent rapper spits venom at his own community, the world sees a “young nigger.”
So, you see, Tyler, as original as you think that moniker may be, it’s not. “Brotha” is short for brother and “nigga” is short for nigger --- nothing more than a dangerous manifestation of self-hatred that was branded into the fabric of this society before you were old enough to be the punchline you’ve become.
You have young people listening to your every word, mimicking your style and embracing your philosophy --- they deserve more than to witness you negligently become a caricature of all that Black manhood encompasses. When you cast yourself as a spokesperson of this Odd Future we're on the cusp of, crying and telling children from that VMA stage that "you can do this sh-t," I remain hopeful that you weren't suggesting that they simply become a "nigga."
You are a king, Tyler Okonma, not an abbreviated "nigger"; act like it.
Kirsten West Savali is a Senior Editor and writer at Your Black World. Connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @KWestSavali