Tyler the Creator: 'I got treated like a murderer'

Greer McNally
Tyler, The Creator performs live on stage at O2 Academy Brixton on September 16, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Back in 2015 an unexpected thing happened when Tyler, the Creator tried to arrive in the UK. He was refused entry. The musician had to cancel his tour and deal with the fall out. Now four years later he’s back – and talking about his experience with UK immigration.

“I got treated like I was a murderer,” the rapper – real name Tyler Okonma – told The Guardian in an interview published today.

This time around things were a little different when he got to customs. They asked if there had been a problem last time around. “I said, yeah.”

He finally had the official thumbs up to return earlier this year. “It was like: damn, finally, but it was so stupid to have to endure that. I got treated like a terrorist.”

Read more: Tyler, the Creator Says He's Been Banned From the U.K. 'For 3-5 Years'

Okonma was turned away due to some of his past lyrics. They were deemed by the then Home Secretary Theresa May to encourage “violence and intolerance of homosexuality” as well as foster “hatred with views that seek to provoke others to terrorist acts”.

The allegation even know vexes the musician. “People knew I wasn’t. People knew the intent!... Who hasn’t played Call Of Duty online and heard some 11-year-old call you that [faggot] because you killed him? You knew the intent behind it and then people were faking, like, he’s homophobic? That was pissing me off. It’s just another word.”

Read more: Rapper Tyler, The Creator arrives in London after ban on entering UK lifted

Okonma returned to the UK in 2019 with a new album – Igor – and a new tour. But at one point he did consider staying away permanently.

“It was kind of stupid, and after a while I was like: I don’t even want to come back. But it was more the principle of: ‘Y’all really did this, over this? In comparison to other shit people do, that y’all let in?’ So I’m happy that I got back. I feel like I won some invisible fight.”