20 Best Tyler, the Creator Lyrics
© Joe Gall
The enigmatic artist made his name as a provocateur, but he's always been one of the most creative rappers in the game. We rounded up his best moments to celebrate the release of "Flower Boy."
Tyler, the Creator has been a million things over the course of his career: pest, provocateur, public nuisance, icon, ringleader, trendsetter and revolutionary. But we often forget that at his core, the Odd Future mastermind has always been a great rapper. Yes, his flow is a little chunky and awkward and Tyler himself seems to be at his happiest behind the boards, but his fascination with the intricacies and pivots in the English language is clear. Tyler’s wordplay is incredible and he routinely unveils dozens of bizarre, experimental bars that smush into each other like post-modern poetry scribbled into the tight margins of a three-ringed notepad. With the release of “Flower Boy,” his fifth and best album, we decided to look back on the many times he leveled the competition.
1. “I’m going harder than coming out the closet to conservative Christian fathers”
This line is great, but it obviously got a little more personal with Tyler tacitly confirming his sexuality on “Flower Boy.” I don’t think there’s been a moment in hip-hop where such an abstract concept like “going hard” was tied to something to something as vulnerable as reckoning with your identity.
2. “I’m a businessman, you ain’t ever been the man”
Song: “Telephone Calls” (A$AP Mob)
There have been a lot of “businessman” puns in hip-hop, but honestly, Tyler’s take probably stings the most.
3. “2DopeBoyz don’t want beef / they’re just overweight vegetarians”
Song: “Orange Juice”
One of the best things about Tyler is his willingness to take shots across the aisle at enterprising rap blogs. In this case, 2DopeBoyz. Is it merited? Who knows, but it sure is funny.
4. “Listening to Mac DeMarco / hanging out the roof window / switch to 3rd gear, turbo.”
“2seater” is a song about cruising through the suburbs with a lady in a car that’s just old enough to be cool and it’s without a doubt the only time Canadian folk-rock scenester Mac DeMarco has gotten a shout-out in a rap song.
5. “Might fuck around and be a goat named Felicia”
Tyler’s bizarre, hallucinogenic rhetoric is among his best assets and we hope he carries it for the rest of his career.
6. “I’m watching Freaks and Geeks / with the trampoline on the floor / I’m trying to cop the new McLaren / with the vertical doors"
Tyler, the Creator has always done a great job depicting loose, teenaged daydreams. But this time around, he actually has the cash on hand to buy a McLaren.
7. “Mom is getting jealous I see my manager more than I see her before
I go on tour and it hurts / I miss the days when this was fun but now it turned into work”
“Golden” comes from “Goblin,” Tyler’s first album after getting famous and the most unruly effort in his discography. It’s way too long and overstuffed with Dracula role plays, lame misogyny and Jasper cameos. However, even then there were moments where Tyler flexed the humanity that he’d later nurture into a much bigger part of his persona.
8. “I was 15 when I first drew that donut / five years later / for our label / yeah we own it”
Tyler spends a lot of time embracing the furthest regions of his imagination, but he does some great work when he hones in on a polemic. “Oldie” was a victory lap for the then-nascent Odd Future crew and Tyler’s final bars serve as the lasting memory for the collective’s heyday.
9. “Named the album Cherry Bomb 'cause Greatest Hits sounded boring”
You gotta love a rapper that tells you how great his album is while you’re listening to it. Who needs a press tour!
10. “Do you know how weird it is knowing that I make a bunch of cheese / while my friends can’t afford little pizzas from Little Caesar’s?”
It’s a hot, syntactically pleasing line and a succinct meditation on the solemnity of getting rich and leaving your loved ones in your wake.
11. “Next line will have ‘em like ‘Whoa' / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004”
The speculative “them” is probably the music media at large, who’ve (understandably) been troubled by Tyler’s homophobic language for the entirety of his career. This is the moment Tyler comes out on “Flower Boy” and he does it with grace, poetry and, as is customary for him, a little bit of humor.
12. “Tell these black kids they can be who they are / dye your hair blue / shit, I’ll do it too”
Song: “Where This Flower Blooms”
Tyler isn’t a stranger to this sentiment, but he previously expressed it armed with an absurdist wit. “I’m a table!” he proclaimed from the tour bus in an early interview. Tyler is a little bit older now, so his directness and sincerity is appreciated.
13. “What if my music is too weird for the masses / and I’m only known for tweets more than beats?”
It’s true, Tyler’s Twitter account is hilarious, but you’ve never had any doubt that he prioritized his art more than anything and that makes this line particularly resonant.
14. “And this is where the story and confusion begin / cause I was in Nirvana but I had to pretend that I wasn't”
Song: “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT”
Have you ever been in love with someone and had to pretend that everything was okay? It doesn’t work, does it?
15. “In school I was the one thinking outside of boxes / so everybody in them would say I got problems”
Tyler’s distaste for the standard public school system is well-documented and here he articulates those complaints beautifully. Four years of frustrations distilled into a single bar.
16. “I’m harder than DJ Khaled playing the quiet game”
This is probably the funniest Tyler, the Creator line of all time and also perhaps the most accurate. DJ Khaled would be truly awful at the quiet game.
17. “You’re good at being perfect / we’re good at being troubled”
“You’re good at being perfect.” It’s hard to think of a bar in hip-hop that does a better job at summing up the helplessness of infatuation.
18. “They say success is the best revenge so I beat DeShay up with the stack of magazines I’m in”
Tyler was blowing up, Odd Future was everywhere and the excitement for sophomore record “Goblin” was palpable. In the midst of all that, Tyler never forgot the beef he had with former Odd Future member brandUn DeShay, so Tyler burned him in a truly iconic fashion.
19. “The devil doesn’t wear Prada / I’m clearly in a white tee”
This is one of Tyler’s earliest standouts from his primordial “Bastard” mixtape and it comes from an era where Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All carried a dangerous, enigmatic reputation. Tyler in particular seemed to love being feared and it’s hard to think of anyone who’s married hip-hop bravado with an impious sense of intimidation better.
20. “I’m a fucking walking paradox / no I’m not”
The line that made Tyler famous and perhaps the most iconic opening lines in modern rap history. The wordplay is excellent and it also sums up the contradictions and complications inherent in his artistic character.