WITH TYLER, THE CREATOR, YOU HAVE TO PICK A side. You can either agree with Eminem, who loves Odd Future (the rap crew Tyler leads) because they’re “pushing boundaries and buttons,” or you can side with GLAAD, which damned his “violently anti-gay and misogynistic music.” His early life was rough: Tyler Okonma, 22, never met his father and was raised partly by his grandmother near Los Angeles. His interests — skateboarding, emo, Kenny G — didn’t align with those of his black classmates, who thought he was a weirdo. For refuge, Tyler taught himself to play piano, posted songs to Tumblr and quickly got a deluge of attention. On his third solo album, Wolf, he continues to mix the outlandish themes of N.W.A, the Geto Boys and Eminem’s early days at the accelerated pace of social media, which he plays expertly.
On Twitter, you keep saying your new album sucks. Why is it so bad?
The beats are really bad. My raps have gotten worse. I don’t have 2 Chainz on it, or Kendrick Lamar, or Drake. No one’s gonna like my album. I mean, I personally don’t like it.
On the Rolling Stone scale of one-to-five stars, what would you give it?
One and a half. Maybe two.
Maybe you’re just sick of it?
No, it’s not that. It’s just that it actually sucks [laughs]. Nah, I’m just playing, dude. I know this album is fucking tight. The shit’s amazing. I’ve been trolling the world, saying it sucks. I think it’s 10 out of 10.
Did you know Frank Ocean was gay before he came out last year?
Yeah, I was one of the first people he told. I kinda knew, because he likes Pop Tarts without frosting on them, so I knew something was weird [laughs]. But that’s my nigga.
Do you think he cares about you using the word “faggot”?
He knows me, and he knows I don’t care about anyone being gay. It’s just another word to me. The same as “nigga.” Let’s say Frank started using the word “fag,” just jokingly. People would be so fucking confused! They wouldn’t know what to do. And it could take the power out of that word.
So why don’t you have Kendrick or Drake on your record?
That shit is fucking gay. I don’t need people’s help. I see famous people being friends when I know they don’t fucking even like each other. I think that shit is fucking sad, that people can’t think for themselves. And that’s what’s wrong with the kids these days, on fucking Tumblr, copying everything they see? They don’t have a fucking mind for themselves. Everyone is a fucking follower.
You guested on a Miley Cyrus song that hasn’t been released yet. Have you forgiven her for referring to “the fuck job that is your face” on Twitter? That was a good line.
That was weak as fuck. When I called her Butters off of South Park because of her fucked-up haircut, that was awesome. I fuck with Miley. I wish more people would like her.
You recently said on Twitter that by the age of 30, you’d be working only on films. You’re already thinking about retiring from rap?
I’m not a fucking rapper. I’m an artist. I happen to rap cause I can’t fucking sing. And I just hate that everyone thinks I just rap and they don’t know all the other 400 fucking things that I do. I’m gonna do a jazz album soon.
People know that you direct videos and design graphics and…
They don’t fucking know that! Some asshole faggot at Chick-fil-A said to me, “My friend John directed your last video.” No, he didn’t. I wrote that treatment.
What did you get at Chick-fil-A?
I got the 12-piece nuggets, a vanilla shake ana some fries. That shit was sick.
Maybe Chick-fil-A could sponsor your tour.
Nah, they’re fucking crazy religious motherfuckers who are anti-gay. That shit’s stupid. But their food’s delicious!
Now that you have some money, do you feel rich?
No, I still live like I’m poor. I wear the same shit. What did I buy? I bought a couple of new phones. Instagram didn’t work, so I threw my old phone against the wall be cause I was angry, and it broke. That made me feel better.