Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tyler the Creator's IFHY and Its Disturbing Definition of a Relationship

Link to lyric video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ9IELefyeQ
Link to lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tylerthecreator/ifhy.html

Music is a major part of our media. It portrays love, pain, and every conceivable emotion or experience while also highlighting and romanticizing these things. Love songs are incredibly popular and the rap genre has been one music style that has dipped its toe into the water to illustrate love and romance. Tyler the Creator is a rapper that has chosen to define love in several of his songs, but one song in particular makes one question the healthiness of this "love" he illustrates. What song could I be speaking of? IFHY (short for "I F*CKING HATE YOU") comes to mind.

The overall message of IFHY is in your face, but is still somehow overlooked by the rhythm and beat of the music. Simply, Tyler the Creator is describing a relationship a man has with his girlfriend that flip flops from being loving to being hateful. The first section of the song is focused on the speaker's point of view regarding his attraction to his girlfriend. While most of it remains mostly smitten and creepily jealous, the rest of the song dives into a disturbing range of possessive and violent behavior. Much of the song repeats the mantra, "I fucking hate you/But I love you" and employs a mix of inconsolable rage and obsessive adoration that doesn't seem very loving. At no point is this dynamic truly questioned, only that the relationship itself is frustrating due to both the speaker's and girlfriend's actions.

To make the message worse, the song glorifies the dynamic and the violence attributed to it. The speaker is incredibly possessive of his girlfriend and repeatedly threatens her if she leaves him, stating at one point,

"Actually, if you even consider leaving
I'll lose a couple screws in due time, I'll stop breathing
And you'll see the meaning of stalking
When I pop out the dark to find you
And that new dude that you're seeing with an attitude
Then proceed to fuck up your evening
Make sure you never meet again like goddamn vegans."


While making these threats, the speaker puts his girlfriend up on a pedestal by stating continuously, "You're good at being perfect" but also employing the word "bitch" to degrade her at several intervals. The speaker doesn't seem to realize his unhealthy behavior regarding his girlfriend as when he states how troubled their relationship is, he states, "We're good at being troubled", rather than finding fault with solely himself. In fact, when regarding his actions towards her, he defines his actions as being "passive-aggressive" though he threatens to kill any potential paramours she may have or his desire to kill her and himself.

Why does this song matter when regarding the definition of a healthy relationship? First of all, a healthy relationship is one that is built on trust, compassion, and a shared desire to work on the relationship. In IFHY, the relationship is nothing more than a possessive man's wish to threaten, stalk, and potentially harm or kill the woman he's seeing. Nonetheless, look up the lyrics video online and you'll find plenty of comments by people seemingly defining the song as a love song and one that might even fit their own personal relationship dynamic. Tyler the Creator's song creates a definition of love that accepts violence and possessive behavior while also permitting a sexist outlook. Rap itself has been controversial in its treatment of women, but IFHY's song could take one step further and convince its listeners that this type of relationship is perfectly fine.

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