The US rapper Tyler, the Creator, returned to the UK on Saturday, four years after he was banned from entering the country, only to see his impromptu gig cancelled when legions of fans turned up to watch him perform.
The rapper, whose given name is Tyler Gregory Okonma, was banned from the UK in 2015 over the content of his lyrics, at that time the Home Office alleged the songwriter “encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality” and “fosters hatred with views that seek to provoke others to terrorist acts”.
The Guardian understands that the ban, which was originally imposed for three to five years, no longer applies and he is able to enter the UK legally.
Okonma, who was forced to cancel performances in the UK, responded with incredulity when the ban was imposed, saying the lyrics the government had cited were from six years ago. His manager, Christian Clancy, mounted a defence of his client, arguing Okonma had “evolved and grown out of that”.
The rapper posted a video and picture of himself outside Buckingham Palace, in London, on Twitter on Saturday. He was dressed in a pink and red suit and, in the video, appeared to be shadowboxing. He said he would perform at the Bussey building in Peckham at 3pm on Saturday.
LONDON; IGOR; 3PM; WILL UPDATE YOU LATER WITH LOCATION pic.twitter.com/bscofwIxta— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) May 18, 2019
But before 3:30pm, he tweeted to say “cops cancelled it” due to the crowds who arrived to watch him perform, including some “gate climbing”. However, a spokesman for the Metropolitan police said while officers were present on the ground for public safety, it was the venue and not the police force that cancelled the gig. Images posted on social media saw huge crowds in the streets around the venue.
However, objections to Okonma entering the UK were based solely on the content of his lyrics. The Californian rapper was forced to cancel the Australian leg of his world tour in 2015 after a feminist group launched a petition calling for him to be denied a visa to enter the country. The group, Collective Shout, cited objections to lyrics that included references to rape and violence against women, as well as his behaviour on earlier tours.
When he was booked to play Glastonbury in 2013, a similar petition was launched in the UK accusing him of “normalising, and even glamorising, rape in his rap lyrics”. It attracted 753 signatures but the rapper went on to play his set with no disruption. That same year, again in Australia, Tyler was reported to the police after a derogatory tirade against the campaigner Talitha Stone, a member of Collective Shout, which was campaigning against his appearance in the country.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”
This article was amended on 17 May 2019 to remove a factual error.