Tyler, the Creator’s 2019 self-produced album IGOR proves itself to be one of his most influential. Structured around features from reticent artists like Lil’ Uzi Vert, Solange, La Roux, and more, the Creator himself has created the album of the year. No longer does he hide under violent, telling lyrics and donut t-shirts- now, he settles for basking in the sun of fashion collaboratives, sexual ambiguity, and emotional vulnerability. Charging, chunky, cringing rhythms have become melodies akin of lovelorn. Odd Future has become Golf Wang. “The Creator” has become “Okonma”.
Okonma’s IGOR did not trigger this metamorphosis- the transitionary Scum Fuck Flower Boy combined characteristics of previous album Cherry Bomb and the melodies we hear later in IGOR. This transition went all but unnoticed- Flower Boy is accredited as a catalyst for a hip-hop revolution. When Okonma confesses his own emotional turmoil in songs like 911/Mr.Lonely and murky sexual preferences (I’ve been kissin’ white boys since two-thousand-and-four), hip-hop culture is bewildered (and part relieved, as his declaration forgave his previously deemed homophobic tendencies, of which were so graphic he was banned from the UK). The rainstorm called the music of Tyler, the Creator suddenly and rapidly slows from vibrant lightning and dagger-like raindrops to mist on windshields.
What proceeds? Do we employ the wipers and ignore clouded vision? Do we get out of the car, pondering how it will rest on the skin?
Does hip-hop decide to disregard Okonma and ignore its own homophobia and toxic masculinity? Or, does hip-hop accept Okonma’s identity and emotional vulnerability and work with it?
Hip-hop picks the latter.
And so, it is- Hip Hop deems itself inclusive. Hip Hop exemplifies Okonma – a black man – and proclaims that mental health awareness and expressing your identity is currently “in”. The trend is solidified by artists; Aminé preaches the gospel of mental health awareness (To all my n***** with some melanin,let your feelings settle in ). Rapper Kevin Abstract spits a raging hot “‘Why you always rap about bein’ gay?’/ ‘Cause not enough n***as rap and be gay’”. Frank Oceans mellow tones of unbridled affection in his 2012 tumblr-published coming-out letter and 2016 album blond seem more influential than ever.
Inclusivity is engulfing Hip-hop. Mostly, this genesis feels like bliss. Hip-hop is taking in a mouthful of fresh air. They have yet to exhale. Not even to air out the bad breath or the remaining taste of the old on their tongue. They haven’t taken the time to ponder their true intention- one has to wonder why vulnerability is “in” now. Why is it suddenly a risk people are willing to take? Is vulnerability only okay now because it gets Billboard rankings?
They have yet