Tyler, the Creator has built himself a notorious reputation for exploring many of his different alter-egos throughout his discography. The alternating characters can oftentimes be signified through the hip-hop artist’s changed tone of voice.
Tyler utilised his first three albums: Bastard, Goblin and WOLF, to introduce his fans not only his genuine and authentic persona, but to other versions he explores of himself. In his early discogrpahy, Tyler would use multiple fictional characters as tools to elaborate on his past family trauma, suicidal thoughts, difficulty fitting in, and the absence of his father.
The opening track of Tyler’s first self produced mixtape Bastard immediately introduces fans to Tyler’s first alter-ego Dr. TC. This character is better known as Tyler’s psychiatrist, who can be signified through his deep, ominous tone of voice. Not only on Bastard, but in future albums, listeners continue to hear Dr. TC, as he is a tool to help Tyler navigate his way through unpacking his deep childhood trauma in their intense therapy sessions.
Ace is another one of Tyler’s characters, that he utilises to express his frustration and aggression towards society. Ace dominates his presence on Bastard, yet is rarely heard on future albums. Listeners begin to hear less of Ace’s violent behaviour and braggadocious comments as Tyler finds further freedom from letting out his built up aggression.
Sam is an alter-ego of Tyler’s who is quite the opposite from Ace. Sam is first introduced on WOLF, and is represented as an insecure, hostile character who attempts to omit Tyler from sharing any of his true emotions.
Tyler’s leading alter-ego in his first three albums is Wolf Haley. This key character and Tyler are essentially inseparable. Throughout WOLF, the two become one, as Tyler diminishes from his old, hurting past self, and adapts to Wolf Haley, a much more confident version of his character he wishes to undertake.
In 2012, Odd Future released the track “Sam is Dead” on their vol. 2 mixtape. This track plays a large significance in Tyler’s career, as he learns to find freedom in his own self by shooting and killing three of his alter-egos: Wolf Haley, Ace and Tron Cat.
Since WOLF, Tyler omitted exploring any alternate personas in his future music, that was until IGOR.
IGOR circles right back to Tyler’s roots, where he used fictional characters to speak up about thoughts he has trouble sharing. IGOR is the character Tyler uses to project his heartbreak through the glam-rock persona IGOR encapsulates. Tyler utilises IGOR to touch on heavy break up issues, and it becomes clear when IGOR is present through the characters’ screeching tone-of-voice and vicious ideas they allude towards. IGOR shares similar traits to Sam and Ace, by being loud and aggressive, although most of the album is Tyler’s authentic self. In the end of the 12-track album, listeners hear Tyler find power and beauty in the act of moving forward.
Tyler has since explored more of his alter-egos although it is argued to believe they are not characters, but more of a representation of the current emotions Tyler is experiencing.
His discography from start to finish indicates how much self improvement the artist had undertaken in his successful career. In recent albums, it seems Tyler is letting go of his alter-egos and is getting closer to representing his honest and true self.
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