Tyler, The Creator Debuts at No. 5 Despite Gay Slurs
Homophobia in rap has a lengthy history, and earlier this week it turned another chapter when enigmatic Odd Future frontman Tyler, The Creator was reprimanded for using anti-gay slurs in his music and across social media by Canadian indie rocker Sara Quin. Quin, who is an outspoken lesbian and fronts Tegan and Sara with her lesbian twin sister, outed Tyler on his “sickening rhetoric,” calling his message “repulsive and irresponsible.”
The lengthy essay — posted on Tegan and Sara’s website — began a media fire storm and caught the attention of the gay and lesbian rights organization the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), who decided to release a separate statement on the matter.
“Tyler has said in interviews that he is not homophobic,” began GLAAD’s response, “yet his Twitter feed and rhymes are rampant with anti-gay slurs and references. His defense that ‘people take things too seriously’ or that he’s ‘just a kid’ is inexcusable. Using hateful language, regardless of the context, is unacceptable and in fact, very serious. Tyler’s attempts to be provocative as well as his indifference towards the consequences of his actions are irresponsible. In an earlier statement issued about rapper Lil B, GLAAD stated that “…words matter. Slurs have the power to fuel intolerance.” (Lil B announced in April that his next album would be titled ‘I’m Gay,’ leading several people, on both sides of the topic, to question the decision.)
Last week, Tyler released ‘Goblin,’ his sophomore solo album, and despite the negative attention and his brash humor on the topic — after catching wind of Quin’s rant, he tweeted: “If Tegan and Sara need some hard dick, hit me up!” — the album debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
The situation is similar to what went down with Eminem in the last decade. The Detroit rapper was also rebuked for his misogynistic and gay-bashing lyrics on songs like ‘Criminal’ and ‘Stan,’ prompting a 2006 Grammy performance of the latter song with Elton John that ended with John — one of the most popular and openly gay musicians on the planet — and Em holding hands. And despite his choice of offensive lyrics, things didn’t turn out so bad for Em; he was crowned the best-selling artist of the past decade and has received five Best Rap Album Grammys to date. So, one has to ask, does not taking things “too seriously” when it comes to anti-gay lyrics actually sell albums?