Tyler Gregory Okonma was born on March 6, 1991 in Ladera Heights, California, the son of a Nigerian father and a mother of mixed African-American and European-Canadian descent. He has said that he has never met his father, and spent his early life living in the communities of Ladera Heights and Hawthorne, California. At the age of seven, he would take the cover out of an album's case and create covers for his own imaginary albums—including a track list with song lengths—before he could even make music. At the age of 14, he taught himself to play the piano. In his 12 years of schooling, he attended 12 different schools in the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas. He worked at FedEx for just under two weeks, and Starbucks for over two years. Okonma took his stage name from a MySpace page he used to post his creative endeavors.
On December 25, 2009, Okonma self-released his first mixtape, Bastard. The mixtape was eventually ranked 32nd on Pitchfork Media's list of the Top Albums of 2010. On February 11, 2011, Okonma released the music video for "Yonkers", the first single from his first album, Goblin, which was released May 10, 2011. The video has received attention from several online media outlets. An extended version with a third verse can be purchased on iTunes.
Okonma initially announced in early 2011, after Los Angeles hip hop collective Odd Future announced, that they will get their own TV show called Loiter Squad. It wasn't until September 8, 2011 that the show was finally confirmed as a 15-minute live action show composed of various sketches, man on the street segments, pranks and music made by OF. Dickhouse Productions, the production partnership that created Jackass, is scheduled to produce the show. The show premiered on March 25, 2012. Okonma has also directed music videos, acted in two roles, and also done work as a graphic Artist.
A series of three commercials for Mountain Dew directed by Okonma created controversy in May 2013, accused of using "racial stereotypes" and "making light of violence against women". In the spots an Energy drink-loving goat character called "Felicia the Goat" is consecutively being "scapegoated" in a diner, in prison and on the road. During the 60-second ad in prison, a battered white woman on crutches examines a police line-up consisting of several African American men and one goat, while the goat antagonizes the woman. Syracuse professor and social critic Boyce Watkins stated that the ad was "arguably the most racist commercial in history". PepsiCo pulled the ad and apologized. Okonma released a statement claiming that the ad was not meant to "spark a controversy about race" and that "it was simply an, again, admittedly absurd story that was never meant to be taken seriously."
On March 15, 2014, Okonma was arrested for inciting a riot after having shouted to fans to push their way past security guards at a sold-out show at the South by Southwest music festival.
On August 26, 2015, Okonma revealed that he had been banned from visiting the United Kingdom for three to five years, which forced him to cancel a string of tour dates supporting the Cherry Bomb album including the Reading and Leeds Festivals. The reason for the ban comes from lyrics dating back to 2009, as well as the content on his first two albums, Goblin and Bastard. His manager Christian Clancy said they were informed of the ban via a letter from then-Home Secretary Theresa May. May cited lyrics from the album Bastard as the reason for the ban though Okonma had toured multiple times in the UK since its release in 2009. Okonma later claimed that he felt he had been treated "like a terrorist" and implied that the ban was racially motivated, stating that "they did not like the fact that their children were idolising a black man".
Lyrics on the album Flower Boy led to speculation that Okonma was coming out as gay on the album. The tracks in question were "Foreword", "Garden Shed", and "I Ain't Got Time!" Okonma further fuelled the discussion when he seemingly revealed in an August 2017 interview that he had a boyfriend when he was 15 years old, though he later tweeted that it was a figure of speech.
On March 29, 2018, Okonma released "Okra". Okonma referred to it as a "throwaway song", stating that it was not going to be included on any upcoming album, and was not an indication of the sound any Future projects.