Label: Odd Future
From: Los Angeles
Active Since: 2007
Latest Release: Wolf
Recent Single: "IFHY" f/ Pharrell
Perhaps the moment that symbolically captured the semi-helter skelter tempo of a busy 2011 was when Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats performed "Sandwitches" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Part unrestrained nihilism, part raw energy, the duo made its national debut for the group that was "turning heads in the hip-hop world." About three minutes and a random Mos Def appearance later, a star was born. If the nation wasn't hip to Wolf Haley from when "Yonkers" dropped, they were now.
It's crazy to think some fans didn't catch on with "Yonkers.” It was a brilliant portrait of the paranoia and absurdities of the then-19-year-old's mind. Tyler seemed to come out of nowhere, but that minimalist beat and the ugliness of some of the lyrics managed to make the experience feel claustrophobic. Somehow it was still enjoyable at the same time, and the great accompanying video confirmed that this would be the kid to look out for.
That moment is part of the reason why Tyler's career feels sort of frustrating; he's only flirted with that level of greatness since then. Goblin had its moments ("Tron Cat," "She" f/ Frank Ocean, and of course "Sandwitches"), but the hits never really completely made up for the misses ("Bitch Suck Dick").
He still hasn't totally mastered the art of album making and Tyler hasn't established himself to a wider audience as of yet, but the fact that he's still improving should get people excited. Tyler's production chops have improved on Wolf, and tracks like "Rusty" and "IFHY" are among his best. Just how good can Wolf Haley get as he rides through his early 20s? —Brian Josephs