Youth Impact Report 2011: Young at Chart

Impact: Unleashed the darkest aspects of his damaged psyche upon a damaged generation — becoming an overnight megastar in the process
Next: Tyler’s third album “Wolf” comes out in 2012, as does Odd Future’s “Jackass”-inspired Adult Swim show “Loiter Squad.”
Causes: This rebel has no cause.

In 1992, Nirvana wiped out the frivolity of hair metal overnight, ushering in the darker, deconstructed era of grunge. And when Tyler, the Creator, leader of rap crew Odd Future, won an MTV VMA Award for new artist this year for his video “Yonkers,” there was a sense that the tide might be turning in hip-hop. The nihilistic, high-strung rants of Tyler made the era of bling seem almost prehistoric.

Less than a year prior to his VMA win, Tyler (real name Tyler Okonma) was wondering if he might have to go back to community college, in case the rap thing didn’t work out. Now he and his Odd Future cohorts are touted as successors to N.W.A. and the Wu Tang Clan, exploding from the skate scene in L.A.’s Fairfax District onto the global cultural consciousness, landing an Adult Swim series called “Loiter Squad” and their own record label, Odd Future Records, with distribution under Sony’s RED Distribution, along the way.

The group’s leader, creative director and chief rabble rouser has emerged as the unhinged voice of a generation. Even before Tyler was famous, his strategy was simple: give his music away for free and retain 100% creative control over every aspect of his art. From directing videos to producing beats, Tyler and Odd Future usually keep everything inhouse.

It’s this kind of authenticity that has allowed an artist as subversive as Tyler to enter the mainstream consciousness, say industry commentators, because authenticity is exactly what young consumers are craving.

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