Tyler the Creator Plays Glastonbury 2013

It’s been a week since Britain’s biggest festival saw 177,000 people leave a field in the middle of Somerset – this years Glastonbury was a triumph. One of the most famous bands of all time – The Rolling Stones – headlined the main stage, causing young and old alike to come together with a mutual love for some amazing guitar riffs and a front man that can strut like no other.

Whilst the line up made headlines around the world, there was one act that jumped out at me as I flicked through my programme on Wednesday afternoon. An act that felt a little out of place in a festival famed for its left wing politics. Tyler the Creator took to the John Peel stage on Sunday evening, to debut his new album. His appearance seemed a confusing choice for a festival renowned for its work on and promotion of equality across the world.

Tyler the CreatorIf you haven’t heard of him before, Tyler the Creator is the rap artist behind such poetic lyrics as:

‘Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome.’

and my personal favourite:

‘You call this shit rape, but I think that rape’s fun.’

Tyler has been making headlines for years with what the media have coined his ‘controversial lyrics.’ I personally don’t think the term ‘controversial lyrics’ really cuts it here – we’re describing full-blown hate speech. Tyler’s albums are full to the brim with diatribes describing horrific violence against and rape of women. This man has made a career and huge amounts of money from this.

For those that have never attended Glastonbury, you can barely trip over yourself without finding a stall or person promoting a charity at the festival. The CND, Oxfam and Water Aid each have a prolific presence at the festival, educating hazy festival-goers about the world’s injustices. For a festival that supports charities that campaign tirelessly against inequality, Tyler the Creator and his barrage of hate speech featuring was a choice that in all honesty slightly dented the credibility of the Glastonbury festival and what it stands for.

The Speaker’s Tent on Friday saw a special hour called ‘Who Needs Feminism?’, with feminist group UK Feminista speaking to festival-goers about the importance of ‘losing the lads mags’. They also had a strong presence around the festival talking to visitors and taking ‘why we need feminism’ pictures, which appeared across screens at each of the festival’s major stages. Such juxtaposition meant I found myself repeatedly asking: ‘Why Tyler?’

Tyler’s inclusion in the festival’s programme was an incredible oversight by the Glastonbury team, that undermined the hard work so many people had put into creating a positive dialogue about the representation of women in the media around the festival. In addition, Glastonbury can now be added to the long list of people that have allowed this man a platform to promote violence against women. Many artists can be accused of creating a negative impression of women with their music, but I cannot put across how violent Tyler’s lyrics actually are. It’s difficult to find a song in his earlier albums that doesn’t have some reference to violence, ranging from women with black eyes and stretch marks, to killing a woman and putting her body in the trunk of his car.

This week has seen Libyan leaders making steps towards making rape within warfare a war crime, as well as other positive steps including the tireless work of the charities who attended Glastonbury to represent their causes. Tyler’s casual comments about sexual assault in his rap songs are undermining the progress we have fought so hard to make, and what’s worse is that this man is being given an international platform from which to do this from.

Tyler the Creator’s output is not art. It is not music. It is the blatant and persistent promotion that rape is okay. Glastonbury, along with many, many others, need to stand up and tell him that it is not.

Photograph by Mehan Jayasuriya.


5 Responses to “Tyler the Creator Plays Glastonbury 2013”
  1. Amy Allen says:

    I wonder what John Peel would have to say about this…

  2. Connor says:

    He is acting like Eminem did when he was new to the game. His comments have no substance and all you’re doing is feeding him publicity he doesn’t need.

  3. MT2013 says:

    Rap is so, so boring. We’ve had like 20 years of being bored to death by rappers. This guy shouldn’t be given stage time, not just for misogyny and hate speech, but also for utter banality.

  4. Dane Cobain says:

    Never listened to the guy’s music for these exact reasons – you should check out Dr. Syntax, his raps are fantastic. No mentions of guns and hos, just witty observations on modern society.

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