Some observations on the Tyler the Creator concert I attended last night:

1. I love this kid. Let me start there. “Find Your Wings,” “Keep Da O’s,” “Smuckers,” Glitter,” “Boredom,” “See You Again,” and “Pothole”—hell, all of his latest offering, “Flower Boy”—are my jam.

2. I LOVE that he charged only $39 per ticket and there was no formal seating arrangements. You fit in where you got in. Totally Lila and her two girlfriends finagled seats four rows from the floor—about 20 rows ahead of where I had us sitting. Note: never underestimate the cunningness of 15-year-old girls. They will get you to the front. With a smile. No sweat.

3. Despite the ticket price, the majority of Tyler’s audience was white. Like, there were SOME Black people there, looking like pepper in milky chowder, but his audience is white kids from the ‘burbs. Like 45 minutes outside Atlanta proper, wearing trucker hats and tight camo and way too much eyeliner and absolutely zero rhythm. They know all the words though. And do this really awkward performance of rapper moves while they’re singing them… lots of hand movements and chopping the air and hard knee bending and scrunched up angry faces and bouncing on the 1’s and the 3’s. It’s a sight to behold.

4. I don’t know how I feel about this. Like, I know Black kids dig Tyler’s music, right? I do. My kids do. Their (Black) friends do. Is $40 too steep a price for them to come? Is it not cool to hit up a Tyler concert? Do they prefer Future or Migos? Where do Black teens go to be entertained? Are they, like me, looking for a more, say, “authentic” experience with Tyler that they know they won’t get a venue that herds fans? Does Tyler notice? Does he care?

5. Continuing on this line of observation, I know the words to Tyler’s songs, too. And I was praying he wouldn’t perform “I Ain’t Got Time.” Not because I don’t love it: I bump that shit in my car because it’s a massive “fuck you” to those who work your nerves. The chorus, in part, goes, “I ain’t got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for these niggas.” Typical Black people shit talking. But in the mouths of white folk, those lyrics take on a different meaning, don’t they? “I ain’t got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime, for these NIGGERS.” They damn sure do for me. And when Tyler silenced the music and told the crowd he wanted them to get hype AF on the next song, and then I heard the beat drop, I evil-eyed every white child within a 30-foot vicinity of me. Because dammit, what I was not fittintado was stand there and watch white kids awkward rapper dance while saying “I ain’t got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for these NIGGERS” at the top of their goddamn lungs. My evil squinty eye was of no use, though. They all said that shit. With gusto. WITH GREAT GUSTO. And I’m bothered by that. Clearly, Tyler is not. And I’m bothered by that, too. Like, you really got a stadium full of white kids saying nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger. TF?

6. Though I love this young brother and his art, clearly my ass is way too old for his large venue performances. Squinting to see the stage. Everybody getting high. My clothes and locs smelling like smoke through next Tuesday. All that noise. The artist performing from a track instead of live instrumentation and everyone is saying the damn words so loud I can’t hear the performer. Can’t have a cocktail in front of all these chil’ren. I legit sat there for half the concert with a “get off my lawn” attitude, minus my bourbon. I couldn’t even help myself.

7. Tyler’s fans like weed. Like, A LOT. Y’all’s kids out here getting HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH AF in these streets, people. HIGH.

8. Hip Hop is dead.


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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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