Tyler, The Creator performs live on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on September 16, 2019 in London, England. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
Rapper Tyler, the Creator, has addressed being banned from the UK after the language in some of his songs was lit into by activists and the then home secretary Theresa May.
The rapper – whose real name is Tyler Okonma – was denied entry to the UK in 2015 despite having a tour planned.
A controversial figure, the 28-year-old was branded “violently anti-gay” by media charity GLAAD in 2011 for using slurs such as “faggot” in lyrics, as well as references to rape and domestic violence.
Four years on, Okonma, now able to visit the UK after a lengthy legal battle, has spoken about how the accusations of homophobic are off the mark in a new interview with The Guardian.
“[F****t is] just another word,” says Tyler, The Creator.
“Bro! That’s the thing, bro. People knew I wasn’t,” he told the broadsheet.
“People knew the intent!”
“Who hasn’t played Call Of Duty online and heard some 11-year-old call you that because you killed him? You knew the intent behind it and then people were faking, like, he’s homophobic? That was p***ing me off.
“It’s just another word.”
Okonma was lit into by LGBT+ activists in the early half of the decade for, primarily, two tracks he dropped. Bastard, a mixtape he had put out in 2009, when he was 18; and Goblin, from 2011.
May evoked anti-terrorism legislation to forbade him entry for around three to five years, according to a Home Office letter.
“She’s gone, so I’m back,” now joked Okonma.
The ban resulted in Okonma being forced to cancel a slew of gigs across the UK and Ireland.
When discussing the length of the ban, the rapper didn’t hold back: “Yeah, it surprised me. But then I remembered – I’m dark-skinned, so, ahh, all right, I get it.
“I mean, I don’t point my finger at that at first, but I looked at every outcome and I looked at every option.”
“And after doing that six times, then you say, OK, what’s the difference between everyone else and me? And then you land on that.”
Tyler, the Creator on Eminem scandal: “Don’t get offended for me.”
Okonma has, over the years, opened up about dating men and referenced his sexuality on 2017 album Flower Boy.
But he was catapulted back into newspaper headlines when faced homophobic slurs from rapper rival Eminem after calling one of his songs “horrible”.
Eminem had taken direct aim at his sexuality on track ‘Fall,’ after Okonma: “Tyler create nothing, I see why you called yourself a faggot, bitch/It’s not just ’cause you like attention.
Eminem later apologies for the diss.
Reflecting on it now, Okonma told The Guardian how Eminem was one of his favourite musicians growing up, before brining up a crucial detail of the scandal.
“Did you ever hear me publicly say anything about that? Because I knew what the intent was,” he said.
“He felt pressured because people got offended for me. Don’t get offended for me.
“We were playing Grand Theft Auto when we heard that. We rewound it and were like: ‘Oh’.
“And then kept playing.”