Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Tyler, the Creator Talks Directing Movies, Being Rejected by Justin Bieber

'My advice to him is to continue to search and never become complacent.' - Pharrell Williams 

Nick and Kayla ditched school early on a Wednesday in Staten Island and caught a bus and then a train to 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. They're high school sweethearts -- Nick a thick-necked senior with a football player build and Kayla a fair-skinned junior with high cheekbones and black hair pulled back into a ponytail.

The couple came to 30 Rock for a February taping of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," but they weren't there to see Donald Trump settled in on the couch to flog the latest season of "Celebrity Apprentice." It was the musical guest, Tyler, the Creator, who is on the eve of his third album, "Wolf," (April 2, Odd Future Records), that inspired Nick and Kayla's trans-borough trek.
Unseen on TV, and to the surprise of those present at studio 6B, Tyler actually performed twice. The second performance was a redo of the first, and as the band got back into place and the cameras were repositioned, Nick saw the opening that he'd been waiting for. He stood up from his seat high in the auditorium.
"Tyler!" he shouted, adrenaline racing through his body. "I named my goldfish after you!"
"What?" Tyler called back from the stage, seated at a piano. "I can't hear you, I'm nervous as fuck!"
Tyler assured Nick that if he came down after the performance, he'd talk and take a picture with the teen and his girlfriend. He kept his word. Later, Nick gushed that he'd once shaken hands with Jay-Z, but found meeting Tyler more meaningful. Kayla had never met a celebrity, and she called this the best moment of her life, hands down.
"He told me my freckles were gorgeous," she said, beaming and breathless. "He made me feel good about my freckles."
The first time Tyler, the Creator played "Fallon" in February 2011, it was his world that had been rocked. He was flanked by his crew of young rap rabble-rousers, Odd Future, and their electrifying performance helped catapult the collective to international stardom. Since then, he's put out a commercial debut ("Goblin" on XL) that reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200, won an MTV Video Music Award for best new artist, launched two seasons of the Odd Future TV show "Loiter Squad" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and brought his brand of foul-mouthed, absurdist and occasionally confrontational hip-hop to the masses through multiple world tours.
"I knew I was eventually going to be famous or something, but not so quickly," says Tyler, 22. "There's so much that's gone on in three years that I can't even comprehend it all."
At the height of Odd Future mania in 2011, Tyler Okonma, a California skater with a penchant for knee-length socks, camp caps and colorful language, had the unusual experience of becoming a poster boy for myriad social phenomena. His DIY approach to his art (he self-produces his music and designs and directs all of his own imagery) made him a paragon of the new, independent-minded music business. But because of his dark, often misogynistic and/or violent lyrics, the upstart rapper also became a pariah in certain circles. Canadian pop duo Tegan & Sara wrote an open letter decrying homophobia in Tyler's music. And Justin Bieber, a pop star whom Tyler legitimately respects, offered only a qualified endorsement, telling a British magazine last year that he doesn't "get the whole, you know, demonic thing."
These days, Tyler's demons are relatively tame. He maintains his signature, petulant Twitter account (@fucktyler), but has taken it upon himself to eliminate the word "rape" from his live shows. He still has a fondness for juvenile pranks, but -- despite bluster in his lyrics about the woes of stardom -- takes time to make fans feel better about their insecurities. During an interview over a travel-size bowl of Lucky Charms, it's difficult to imagine why anyone would be afraid of him. He's playful at times, almost vulnerable at others.

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