“Just take a different way home.”
It’s 10 p.m. in the studio, and Tyler’s last task before his night is done is closing
out another music project, remixing his almost-finished Grinch theme. His
most significant tweak is making the choir of singing children more promi-
nent. “This movie is for fucking 10-year-olds, so bring them up,” he says. “That
shit’s important to me.”
During moments like this, Tyler seems, well, more grown-up. There are signs
in his fashion ambitions as well. Golf Wang started by selling T-shirts, hats, and
hoodies, but it will soon sell a needlepoint cardigan, a bike, a helmet, a forest-green
bulletproof vest that reads ;; ;;;;;;;;, and a jacket that looks straight out of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Golf has doubled its products from
293 to 508 in the past year, and with each new category, Tyler finds new and better
partners to realize his vision. Two years ago, his puffy coat was “kind of trash,” in
the words of Brad Scoffern, Tyler’s former road manager who grew to run operations, strategy, and marketing for Golf Wang. Now, that coat is made by a company
that works with North Face and Patagonia.
In August, Golf Wang relocated from a Spanish-style bungalow on a residential
street in West Hollywood to a large warehouse in Culver City, leveling up in the same
way that his other projects are. What if Golf Wang gets too
big for him to manage? “Oh, when it gets to that point I
know how to let shit go,” he says without hesitation. “If
it’s ever something I don’t take time for, then that means
I don’t care about it and it shouldn’t exist.”
Two days later, Tyler rolls into Whole Foods on his bi-
cycle along with his close friend and Golf Wang model Wy-
att Navarro. They don’t have locks. “I’m gonna leave them
out there, they’re okay, they’re good,” Tyler muses. “And if
they get stolen, that’s kinda sick.” Travis Bennett, aka Taco,
a DJ and former Odd Future member, sits down as well.
Tyler is eating the most adulting food I’ve seen him
consume all week—a salmon bowl with extra teriyaki
sauce—but he still somehow looks more youthful
than the numerous occasions I’ve watched him catch
gummy bears in his mouth (or eye) from across the
room. In this moment, Tyler and his friends could be the characters from some
1980s monster movie, solving a mystery in their small town after the authorities didn’t take them seriously.
Pulling at his necklace, Tyler shows me I’m not far off. About a year ago, Tyler
assembled his closest confidants, his “ride or dies”—Dolphin, Boyce, Navarro, and
Bennett—and gifted them each with a piece of custom jewelry, a chain with a daisy
charm, modeled from the Flower Boy cover art Tyler drew himself. Each necklace
is a different monotone hue; Tyler’s features multicolored petals from them all.
“It’s like he’s Captain Planet,” Bennett later tells me, laughing, before confessing
how moving he found the gesture. He’s never taken the chain off.
“We don’t dress the same. We don’t listen to all the same music. We have different
opinions for shit—that’s why I love them,” Tyler says. “We’ll be on each other’s team
during the zombie apocalypse.” He feels the same way about his fans, encourag-
ing them to see his art and his personal style as not a model to be copied, but as
proof-of-concept to be emulated. “For his generation,” says Kelly Clancy, “he’s made
people think they can do it too.”
Tyler turns to debating how to spend the rest of his afternoon. Should he get
strawberries or ice cream? Should they ride their bikes more? “I want a Jamba Juice
like a motherfucker,” Tyler declares, turning to Navarro. “Where should we go?”
Navarro looks up from his iPhone. “Wherever the wind takes us.”
MWILSON@FAS TCOMPAN Y.COM
where some of the most famous
hip-hop artists have cut records.
Most days, Tyler wakes up early
and composes at home, but today he’s going to be working into
the evening, sampling his new
album for some friends.
First, he has a bridge to write.
He turns to me, and for the first
time asks me to cut the recorder.
Then his hands fiddle on the keyboard, finding a series
of beautiful chords that harken back to 1979.
Gradually, he gets down the progression that he’s looking for. Then he switches instruments on his keyboard,
pulling up a bass. He rips off a deep electric riff spiritually reminiscent of “Freeee.” His engineer, Vic Wainstein,
steps out of the room. “Save me some!” Tyler yells, as he
often does when anyone heads to the bathroom. “Save me
some pee pee this time. I always ask, and you never do!”
It’s just the two of us in this windowless studio, and
time melts away while he coaxes the trickiest four bars
of a song together. The fidget spinner is finally at rest.
As the pieces come together, Tyler begins to dance
in his chair. His head cues the downbeats. He surfs his
hands along with vocals and mumble raps over the top.
After another nudge, the beats and chords click. He
cranks up the volume and stands in front of the studio’s
massive speakers. He falls and flails and kicks with his
strange, signature grace, putting on a concert for one.
When he’s done, he’s sweating hard enough that he
needs to towel off.
The song is haunting and hooky, with an ethereal,
distorted refrain: “Running out of time running out
of time running out of time . . . to make you love me.”
Only when I hear the words do I realize this song has
been in his head all day. He’s been singing it to himself
everywhere we went. Tyler lives his life to a soundtrack
of his own making, a grand composition full of sunsets
and sudden, aggressive chord changes that sound right
only three seconds in retrospect.
Austin Feinstein, an L.A. guitarist with Cole Sprouse
looks, walks in and listens to the track. Tyler wants acoustic guitar, not electronic chords. Feinstein can’t discern
the notes and asks which key they’re in. “You know I don’t
know what the fuck keys are,” Tyler responds.
After Feinstein deciphers the chords, Tyler exclaims,
“Aaahh! When that guitar happens, all those white [girls]
at Coachella are gonna love that shit.” (Tyler was disappointed in his 2018 Coachella performance.) We celebrate
by ducking out for Starbucks, where an exultant Tyler
grinds on the café’s umbrella like a stripper pole and orders a white hot chocolate with the peppermint mixed in
and a caramel drizzle on top. “Y’all never experimented?”
he shouts, defending his beverage choice when we wretch.
“Or y’all straight?”
Tyler has produced
several videos in
2018, including one
of him and A$AP Rocky
rapping over Monica’s
Camp Flog Gnaw, Tyler’s
annual carnival-slash-music festival,
has grown into a
of everything Tyler
loves. This year’s
event, scheduled for
November 10 and 11,
sold out its 45,000
tickets in 37
minutes and features
a rare performance
from Lauryn Hill.