Tyler The Creator and his entourage of similarly talented musicians who go by the name “Odd Future” are infamous in the rap game. They have a huge following and have diversified into television and fashion. Tyler got his start at a young age, and his success can be traced back to one, strange music video that kickstarted his career, as well as reaching nearly 100 million views on YouTube.
Here’s how it happened.
1. The video is deceptively complex.
The premise is simple upon its first viewing. It’s Tyler sitting on a stool rapping the song while the camera and lighting move him in and out of focus. The song too has a beat and flow that, while catchy, are very straightforward.
It isn’t until paying attention to the lyrics and the details of the video that the meaning of the song becomes clear, which make this video worth watching a few times.
2. The song is the most popular from the album.
It’s nothing revolutionary to make a video for the most popular song on an album, but it’s certainly key to making that popularity last. Making a video worth watching for a song that people already received well is a great way to get fans to share the music even more and to get new listeners interested.
3. All future work can be traced back to this song.
Tyler The Creator recognized that this song was definitive of his brand of music. It’s about a depressing part of his life. Songs and music videos that have come out more recently are all in the context of this one, which focuses on his father leaving his mother and growing up with suicidal thoughts.
Any fan of Tyler’s understands that his work is rooted in these feelings, and to truly appreciate that, they have to look back at this song.
Tyler The Creator capitalized on his biggest hit by releasing it with a cryptic yet simple music video. The work is genuine but advantageous to his success. His career jumped off at this point, and he continues to reference this work. It’s important to recognize when a song can be more successful when accompanied by a music video.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s bumping music on the radio.