Tyler, the Creator takes heartfelt approach to his performance at Joy Theater


Nurah Lambert | Senior Staff Photographer

Tyler, the Creator performs a mix of new and old songs at his Nov. 20 show at Joy Theater.

Though known for his outrageous antics and blasphemous lyrics, one being “Then my dick went limp so, took about 3 pills of Extenzo/Now my dick’s longer than a 5 door limo,” Tyler, the Creator’s Nov. 20 show in New Orleans was surprisingly laid back.

Early in the evening, young people — many dressed in Tyler’s brand Golf Wang apparel — gathered in Joy Theater, eager for the rapper to grace the stage. 

As a crowd-warmer, Odd Future member Taco Bennett, also known as Taco, opened for Tyler with a DJ set. He featured some popular hip hop and rap songs, the usual mix of 21 Savage and Kodak Black, among others. Though the music was not too special, it did a decent job of hyping the previously chill audience for Tyler’s impending set. 

Of course, in antsy anticipation, the Golf Wang Le Fleur-clad kids began chanting “Tyler” in unison, beckoning their idol to emerge. And sure enough, from a large, mysterious, black box in the center of the stage, Tyler came forth wearing an orange knit cap and camouflage pants, ready to start the show. A known comedian of sorts, Tyler started with some casual banter, teasing the crowd with “I know my name, you don’t have to yell it at me” and recounting his trip to a Louisiana plantation earlier that day.

He performed mostly newer music from his fifth and latest solo album, “Flower Boy,” with a sprinkling of older crowd favorites. Overall, the energy was low from both Tyler and the audience, especially when compared to shows in previous years.

In fact, it was not until he played “Tamale” that there seemed to be a real connection between him and the audience. Odd Future member Jasper Dolphin joined him on stage during the fast-paced song.

Though the performance was definitely solid, it was unclear whether there was less engagement from Tyler, the audience just was not used to his new — and arguably improved — persona or if the crowd’s relative calm was just a reflection of the new persona.

His premiere album, released in 2011, “Goblin” (and every album following up until “Flower Boy”), was shockingly crude, and its lewd satire ran deeply along each verse. This vulgarity is part of what made Tyler unique and what launched his music into the mainstream.

As of today, though, Tyler seems to have outgrown that stage, and “Flower Boy” marks a new era in his rap career. Each track on “Flower Boy” is heartfelt and tangible.

Rather than inciting mosh pits, his songs brought some of the concert-goers to tears. His newer music evokes raw compassion rather than aimless anger — neither is necessarily better than the other, but this approach is conveyed through a more matured sound — and the Grammys seem to agree.

Tuesday morning, Nov. 28, the 60th annual Grammy Award nominees were announced, and Tyler’s “Flower Boy” was nominated for Best Rap Album. His response was captured in a simple tweet Tuesday, in which he wrote, “cool beans.”

Because of the sincerity of his most recent album, his performance was inevitably beautiful even amid what seemed like low engagement, as it seemed more genuine than we have seen Tyler in past years. His set fittingly ended with “See You Again,” one of the more popular tracks off “Flower Boy.” And though New Orleans is not a stop on his upcoming 2018 tour with Vince Staples and Taco, he will surely return to the Crescent City, perhaps with another remodeled persona in tow.

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