Tyler, the Creator, the Los Angeles rapper and de facto frontman for punk-rap collective Odd Future, isn’t exactly known for inclusive, politically correct lyrics. His early albums—2009’s Bastard and 2011’s Goblin—heavily referenced rape, murder, cannabalism, necrophilia, and misogyny. When protestors gathered at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2011, where Odd Future was performing, to denounce the group’s insensitive lyrics, Tyler responded by telling the crowd, “to every protestor supposedly here, to every organization, every f—-t-ass who’s writing a review, I want you to suck my d–k.”
So it might surprise some that an artist who GLAAD once criticized MTV for nominating for the Best New Artist VMA has released an anti-homophobia T-shirt. Tyler, who designs much of Odd Future’s merchandise, revealed the shirt Thursday night on the the group’s Golf Wang Tumblr, along with a message explaining how he came up with concept.
Featuring a the design that tweaks a well-known white supremacy icon with the LGBTQ movement’s signature rainbow colors, the shirt is characteristically a little jarring. Tyler’s somewhat scattered statement details his fascination with totalitarianism, modern white supremacist organizations, and propaganda—and also explains why he, a rapper often assumed to be homophobic, designed the shirt:
…maybe my whole idea on this is stupid. Who knows, but why not try it out? Also, ever since my career started, ive been labeled as a homophobe, simply because of my use of the word f—-t. Again, trying to take the power out of something, I WAS NEVER REFERRING TO SOMEONES SEXUAL PREFERENCE WHEN USING THAT WORD. I mean, i’m legit one of the least homophobic guys to walk this earth but, most people just read the surface.
It’s worth noting that two of Tyler’s primary Odd Future collaborators, crooner Frank Ocean and beatmaker Syd the Kyd, have spoken openly about having had same-sex relationships. And when Ocean candidly discussed his sexuality on Tumblr in 2012, shortly before the release of his album channel ORANGE, Tyler voiced his support for the singer on Twitter.
Tyler recently released his fourth album, Cherry Bomb, and also launched a media app titled, predictably, Golf Media.