America has more or less made peace with Tyler, the Creator, the leader of the (now disbanded) shock-rap crew Odd Future. After a period of inciting controversy with violent lyrics and aggressive teenaged snottiness, Tyler has settled into life as a touring artist with a reliable fanbase. The United Kingdom, though, is apparently not quite as accepting.
Earlier this week, Tyler suddenly cancelled a series of upcoming shows in England and Ireland, including sets at major outdoor festivals in Reading and Leeds. At the time, the cancellations were chalked up to “circumstances.” Today, those “circumstances” were revealed in a blog post written by Christian Clancy, Tyler’s longterm manager:
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..”
It’s unclear why exactly Tyler was banned from the UK at this exact point in time. Later in his post, Clancy points out that Tyler has played at least 20 shows in the region over the past five years. Most recently, he played four straight shows in the UK in mid-May, and also held a screening of Napoleon Dynamite at a theatre in London.
Those concerts, Clancy says, have happened “without incident,” and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to contradict that, though Tyler was once arrested after a show in Los Angeles and cited after another last year in Austin. And though Clancy’s post contrasts who Tyler was “6-7 years ago”—someone who rapped gleefully about rape and defended his use of gay slurs—with the more mature person he appears to be now, it was only two years ago that he confronted an Australian critic from the stage, calling her a “fucking bitch, a “fucking whore” and a “fucking cunt” as she watched from the audience. (Tyler recently cancelled an Australian tour after pressure from the feminist group Collective Shout.)
Still, a country banning a performer for a half-decade based on his lyrics is obviously concerning from a free speech perspective. The reasons given by the UK, as cited by Clancy, are also fairly specious. It would be hard to seriously argue that Tyler “encourages violence” against gay people, and though his insistent use of the word “faggot” might encourage “intolerance,” that accusation is also true for a great number of public figures—politicians, Ice Cube—who enter the country routinely. And the argument that Tyler’s lyrics “provoke others to terrorist acts” is a gross overselling of the matter, to say the least.
In the meantime, Tyler will be on tour in America through November with A$AP Rocky. Attend if you enjoy being around young men in cool clothing.
[image via Getty]