[Art via ceciltdk]
Tyler can't catch a break these days. Earlier this week, The Creator was forced to call off a round of tour stops in the UK and Ireland for reasons that he initially cited as "circumstances" (or rather, "CIRCUMSTANCES"). Today, we found out why the shows won't be taking place, as Tyler and his manager made statements that revealed he is no longer allowed in the UK, at least for the next three to five years. Why is he banned? Offensive lyrics seem to be the root of the issue.
Tyler's manager, Christian Clancy, took to Tumblr to provide further clarity into the situation, noting that the lyrics in question were written when Tyler was much younger and that he's changed and grown as both an artist and a human.
"tyler has been banned from entering the UK for somewhere between 3 to 5 years per a letter from the secretary of state for the home department of the united kingdom. the letter specifically cites lyrics he wrote 6-7 years ago for his albums bastard and goblin – the type of lyrics he hasn’t written since… highlights from the letter include that his work “encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality” and “fosters hatred with views thats seek to provoke others to terrorist acts..” i grew up on NWA, eminem and rage against the machine, so its hard to me to fully wrap my head this thought process and its implications.
to say that i am confused would be an understatement. can you imagine being beholden to things you said when you were 18? tyler has been to the UK over 20x in the last 5 years without incident (shows, in stores, meet and greets). we rented out a movie theatre last month in London for a private showing of napoleon dynamite for his fans. literally last month.
more importantly, this is a broader issue of free speech, with new lines being drawn that include reaching back in time without acknowledging growth. in fact, punishing growth. what i do know is tyler is part of an argument that is counter to who he has become. how do you punish someone for growing up? since the letter acknowledged he was writing from an alter ego perspective does this then apply to book writers? the fact that he has evolved into someone who has acknowledged and grown out of that is simply lost in the narrative. is he not worthy of the pat on the back for becoming aware and making changes? what message does that send? is race a conscious or subconscious factor at all?
theres a lot to absorb and understand, but while he gets painted as some sort of anti christ i want to make sure people know the facts, which are that he hasn’t delved into those lyrics in years – he writes songs about cars and spreading your wings. he doesn’t drink or smoke, he owns his own businesses, he takes care of his family and friends, he’s honest, grateful, aware, fearless, intelligent, and inspiring. his shows serve as a release, not acts of aggression.
is he perfect? absolutely not. he’s a human evolving like the rest of us, and evolution is a process, not a light switch.
im not defending his OLD lyrics. to be honest they make me cringe, but i stand beside him because of who he actually IS. our 8 year old daughter, who is constantly inspired by him, said it best; "why would they ban tyler? that makes no sense.“
Obviously, this hurts any fans in Britain hoping to see Tyler perform live, and adds to the list of countries that are not too fond of the eccentric rapper/producer. Earlier this month, Tyler cancelled his Australian tour after claiming on Twitter that he had been banned from that country. He never actually had his visa denied, but a campaign by feminist group Collective Shout had hoped to achieve just that, citing "songs advocating rape and extreme violence against women" in their crusade. In the end, the group won out, as Tyler will not be performing in Australia for the immediate future.
As Clancy noted in his statement, situations like this shed a light on the vast grey area regarding artists and free speech. It's difficult to figure out where the lines are drawn. How far does artistic freedom stretch, and should artists be held accountable for the things they say in their music? Also, at what point are you no longer forced to deal with consequences for actions and words made as a young, growing individual? Should adults be held accountable for the stupid things they did and said when they were kids? Take a look around. We all have our problems, we all make mistakes and we all learn and grow. I don't have the answers, and each country is in charge of determining its own standards, though it seems unfair to ban Tyler from the country on these grounds. Then again, life is unfair, and as much as someone might try to avoid it, past actions and words can and will always be used against that person. Such is especially true for public figures in 2015, especially outspoken rappers famous for cringeworthy content and not giving a shit.
It's particularly interesting that Clancy points out Tyler had rented out a theater in London last month, one of over 20 trips to the UK made by Tyler over the last five years. He claims they were without incident, and if so the timing of this decision seems odd. Why now? In any case, Tyler's global vacation possibilities seems to be shrinking at lightning speed lately. At this rate, his next world tour is going to look like this...
[By Brendan Varan. He's never been to the UK, but he heard the food is great. Follow him on Twitter.]