United Kingdom: American rapper banned because of lyrics


The 24-year-old American rapper Tyler, the Creator says he has been banned from the United Kingdom because of the nature of his lyrics.

The Odd Future co-founder recently cancelled four dates in the UK and Ireland and tweeted that it was because the UK authorities were unhappy with his subject matter:

The American rappers Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg have both been excluded from the United Kingdom in the past, because of convictions for criminal offences in the US. However, objections to Tyler have been based not on criminal behaviour, but rather on the content of his lyrics.

The Guardian reported on 10 August 2015 that the Californian rapper had cancelled the Australian leg of his world tour after a feminist group launched a petition to have him denied a visa to enter the country.

The group, Collective Shout, cited objections to lyrics that include references to rape and violence against women, as well as historic behaviour on earlier tours.

When Tyler was booked to play Glastonbury in 2013, a similar petition was launched in the UK accusing Tyler of “normalising, and even glamorising, rape in his rap lyrics.”

The petition attracted 762 signatures and the rapper went on to play his set with no disruption.

Complaints about Tyler seem to stem largely from songs on his self-produced 2009 mixtape Bastard, which includes lines such as “you call this shit rape but I think that rape’s fun” as well as references to raping Goldilocks and committing suicide.

Most of that record was written when Tyler was a teenager and he has since written about how he’s moved on from the sentiments expressed on it.

The Home Office does not usually comment on individual cases where a person is refused entry to the UK. The Guardian and The Quietus quoted an unnamed Home Office spokesperson who allegedly had issued the following comment:

“Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values. The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds.”

Tyler’s manager, Christian Clancy, wrote on his Tumblr:

“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.”

to say that i am confused would be an understatement. can you imagine being beholden to things you said when you were 18? tyler has been to the UK over 20x in the last 5 years without incident (shows, in-stores, meet and greets). we rented out a movie theatre last month in London for a private showing of napoleon dynamite for his fans. literally last month.

more importantly, this is a broader issue of free speech, with new lines being drawn that include reaching back in time without acknowledging growth. in fact, punishing growth. what i do know is tyler is part of an argument that is counter to who he has become. how do you punish someone for growing up? since the letter acknowledged he was writing from an alter ego perspective does this then apply to book writers? the fact that he has evolved into someone who has acknowledged and grown out of that is simply lost in the narrative. is he not worthy of the pat on the back for becoming aware and making changes? what message does that send? is race a conscious or subconscious factor at all?”

As Julianne Escobedo Shepher’s article about the banning of Tyler the Creator makes clear: It is complicated.

Read the in-depth article:

» Jezebel – 2 September 2015:
Was Banning Tyler, the Creator, the Victory International Feminism Needed?

Other sources:

» The Guardian – 27 August 2015:
Tyler, the Creator: I’ve been banned from entering the UK

» The Independent – 27 August 2015:
Tyler The Creator banned from entering UK for 3-5 years as Home Secretary says controversial rapper “not conducive for public good”

» The Quietus – 27 August 2015:
Tyler, The Creator Banned From The UK