Tyler, the Creator on His U.K. Ban: “It’s Opening a Door for Anyone to Be Banned”
Last week, Tyler, the Creator revealed he was forced to cancel his U.K. tour dates due to a ban prohibiting him from entering the country for three to five years. That followed shortly after another ban in Australia spearheaded by Collective Shout’s petition against the artist, which described Tyler as a “misogynist pro-rape rapper.” Now, Tyler has spoken out about the bans in an interview with the Guardian.
The U.K. Home Office’s letter banning Tyler cited lyrics from his 2009 mixtape, Bastard, and his 2011 debut, Goblin, as promoting hatred and violence:
The home secretary has considered whether, in light of this list, you should be excluded from the UK on the grounds that your presence here would not be conducive to the public good. The home secretary has reached this decision because you have brought yourself within the scope of the list of unacceptable behaviour by making statements that may foster hatred, which might lead to intercommunity violence in the UK.
Your albums 'Bastard,' in 2009, and 'Goblin,' in 2011, are based on the premise of your adopting a mentally unstable alter ego who describes violent physical abuse, rape and murder in graphic terms which appears to glamourise this behaviour.
Tyler now accuses the U.K. government of merely following Australia’s lead:
Now [the UK government] are just followers. Everyone is a follower, just following what other countries are doing. Now I’m getting treated like a terrorist. I’m bummed out because it’s like, dude, I’m not homophobic. I’ve said this since the beginning. The “hating women” thing – it’s so nuts. It’s based on things I made when I was super-young, when no one was listening [to my music]. Like, I wrote "Blow" when I was reading about different people in American history. One of the people happened to be [the serial killer] Ted Bundy, and I wrote a song from his point of view.
He also discussed the incongruity of the letter acknowledging the alter ego he adopts in the songs yet associating their message with his own behavior:
The thing that irks me about it is that the paper saying I am denied entry to the UK clearly states that these songs were written from [the perspective of] an alter ego – which means they obviously did some research on these songs that they’re detaining me for. So the argument is right there! This song is written from an alter ego – I’m not like this! You could watch any interview and see my personality, see the guy I am. I wouldn’t hurt a fly.
The one-time Odd Future rapper said the bans set a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech and art:
When the Australia thing happened, I was like, “Wow, OK.” Then the UK thing happened, and it’s like: ‘OK, this is not funny any more – this is actually wrong, from a moral standpoint. Now [threats against] freedom of art and speech are at hand. And because of this, it’s opening a door for anyone to be banned…
What about the people who will make music in the next five years? Are they gonna get banned? ... There are rallies of neo-Nazis in parts of England. And then you’re telling me I can’t come there because of some bulls--- song, but you got mother---ers with swastikas rallying down the street actually promoting hate?
Tyler added that music isn’t the only art form in jeopardy. “This is only gonna open the door for other people to get banned,” he said. “And then they’re gonna go after video games, and then they’re gonna go after movies, and we’re gonna live in such a sensitive world. It’s like the world is scared of everything.”