Tyler, the Existentialist?

Liz Foster ’22

Managing Editor

Jean-Paul Sartre and Tyler, the Creator are two names that should never coexist within the same sentence. However, “Analog 2,” a track off of The OF Tape Volume 2 by Tyler’s former collaboration project Odd Future, begs one to question if the rapper and philosopher are more alike than initially anticipated. Tyler opens the song with the lyrics: “Bitches think I’m crazy, but I’m normal / I just come off as a psycho maniac when I’m performin’ / That’s an act so I won’t bore you to death, ’cause I adore you.” Having listened to this song for over five years, I found it remarkable that it took this long to realize the genius behind these three lines. 

Tyler begins with the notion that “bitches” think he’s “crazy.” He diminishes the importance of those criticizing him this derogatory term and simultaneously lessens the impact of their statement by reducing their perception to just “crazy.” This word is so loosey-goosey that it could be thrown at anyone acting out of the norm, and thus its value is depreciated. Tyler continues that he appears a “psycho maniac” when he’s performing on stage.

In this lyric, Tyler introduces one of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical concepts: being-for-others. Being-for-others indicates that one exists as an object for another (or the general “others’” consumption). Here, Tyler is performing both literally and figuratively. 

He continues that this is an act so he doesn’t bore “you” to death because he adores “you.” The you at hand may very well be our consciousness. He seeks to entertain his audience, both the ticket buyers of his concert and the eyes of each and every person perceiving him. Tyler works to get a firm grip on the people that make or break him, and that includes everyone. He hopes to be one of the more entertaining, exciting perceptions that his fans experience.

By loving the metaphysical “you,” he further demonstrates Sartre’s notion that humans inherently “put on an act” for the approval and love of others. One molds themselves into what they hope to be perceived as through another’s eyes. 

In acting like a psycho-maniac hoping to not bore his audience, Tyler, the Creator proves himself to be a true existentialist. Sartre’s philosophical ideologies around identity appear in even the most out of pocket places.

Existentialism sneaking its way in 2010s rap reveals a cleverness that both listeners and philosophers can all-knowingly nod towards. 

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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