According to Tyler, the ban is due to lyrics from 2009. He apparently won't be allowed in the country for three to five years, and he's clearly rather confused by the situation. Read his tweets below:
BASED ON LYRICS FROM 2009 I AM NOT ALLOWED IN THE UK FOR 3-5 YEARS ( although i was there 8 weeks ago) THAT IS WHY THE SHOWS WERE CANCELLED.— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) August 26, 2015
*listens to last three releases in confusion*— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) August 26, 2015
THE CANCELING OF THE SHOWS ARE BEYOND MY CONTROL. AGAIN, IM NOT THE TYPE TO CANCEL SHOWS. ONLY WHEN ITS LEGIT NOT POSSIBLE, SORRY AGAIN =(— Tyler, The Creator (@fucktyler) August 25, 2015
UPDATE (8/27, 11 a.m.): Addressing the ban, the UK Home Office has issued the following statement: "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."
Meanwhile, Tyler's manager Christian Clancy posted a statement on Tumblr explaining the situation in depth. He notes that, while Tyler's old lyrics may have been offensive, banning him from the country raises free speech issues. Furthermore, the rapper's more recent lyrics have involved very different subject matter, and he shouldn't be accountable to the things he rapped about as a teenager. Read the full missive below:
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.." i grew up on NWA, eminem and rage against the machine, so its hard to me to fully wrap my head this thought process and its implications.
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?
theres a lot to absorb and understand, but while he gets painted as some sort of anti christ i want to make sure people know the facts, which are that he hasn't delved into those lyrics in years – he writes songs about cars and spreading your wings. he doesn't drink or smoke, he owns his own businesses, he takes care of his family and friends, he's honest, grateful, aware, fearless, intelligent, and inspiring. his shows serve as a release, not acts of aggression.
is he perfect? absolutely not. he's a human evolving like the rest of us, and evolution is a process, not a light switch.
im not defending his OLD lyrics. to be honest they make me cringe, but i stand beside him because of who he actually IS. our 8 year old daughter, who is constantly inspired by him, said it best; "why would they ban tyler? that makes no sense."
This is hardly the first time that people have taken offence to Tyler's music, as he's been protested many times over the years. He recently cancelled an Australian tour amidst controversy, after a feminist group campaigned to have the government block his visa.
Tyler isn't letting all this hold him back, since he will spend this fall on the road with A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown and Vince Staples. See the schedule for that North American run here. Tyler will also appear at Riot Fest in Toronto on September 19.