Tyler, The Creator on UK ban: ‘I’m being treated like a terrorist, I wouldn’t hurt a fly’

Odd Future rapper has been banned from entering the UK for five years due to his controversial lyrics

Tyler, The Creator has addressed the recent news that he has been barred from entering the UK for up to five years.

The rapper pulled a series of UK dates last week, including an appearance at Reading & Leeds Festivals, after being blocked from entering the country.

Speaking to The Guardian, Tyler described being held at customs upon his arrival into the country, claiming that he was “treated like a terrorist” by border control officials.


“Monday was one of the shittiest days I’ve ever had,” the star said. “I was in a detention room; I felt like a criminal. And then [a Border Force officer] showed me lyrics from songs… literally, a paper with five lines of lyrics… Thirty minutes later, the guy comes in, he gives me a paper, and he says, ‘OK, they’re not letting you in the country.’ The paper said I couldn’t come at all, saying that I support homophobia and acts of terrorism, and [it said] some other stuff. I’m just like, one, none of that is true, and two, I was here seven weeks ago.”

Tyler continued to label the UK government as “just followers”, adding, “everyone is a follower, just following what other countries are doing. Now I’m getting treated like a terrorist. I’m bummed out because it’s like, dude, I’m not homophobic. I’ve said this since the beginning. The ‘hating women’ thing – it’s so nuts. It’s based on things I made when I was super-young, when no one was listening [to my music].”

NMERichard Johnson/NME

“The thing that irks me about it is that the paper saying I am denied entry to the UK clearly states that these songs were written from [the perspective of] an alter ego – which means they obviously did some research on these songs that they’re detaining me for. So the argument is right there! This song is written from an alter ego – I’m not like this! You could watch any interview and see my personality, see the guy I am. I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The rapper also expressed his fear that the decision will lead to other artists being banned from entering certain countries.

“What about the people who will make music in the next five years? Are they gonna get banned? Why don’t they ban authors? Writers who write these mystery books about people getting raped and sabotaged and murdered and brainwashed – why don’t they ban them? There are rallies of neo-Nazis in parts of England. And then you’re telling me I can’t come there because of some bullshit song, but you got motherfuckers with swastikas rallying down the street actually promoting hate?”

“This is only gonna open a door for other people to get banned. And then they’re gonna go after video games, and then they’re gonna go after movies, and we’re gonna live in such a sensitive world. It’s like the world is scared of everything.”


Foals, meanwhile, have branded the decision to ban Tyler as “stupid”. Speaking to NME in a video interview (watch below), frontman Yannis Philippakis hit out at the government for the decision.

“I don’t think [his ban is] a threat to free speech,” he said. “I just think it shows how stupid the bureaucracy at government level is. He’s a rapper – the lyrics they’re banning him for are from six years ago and are no more offensive than the lyrics of a lot of other rappers who are freely allowed to come to the UK. So I wouldn’t take it so seriously. It just highlights the absurdity of certain decisions made at that level… he’ll be back, so who cares?”