Tyler, The Creator and his band of pranksters Odd Future are certainly maintaining the comic obscenity in rap music that we associate with Eminem. The kind of lyrics that make you grimace initially but later on that evening, when you’re alone, you’ll giggle quietly to yourself and feel a little shameful about it. But that’s what drew us to Eminem. The lyricism and the disses were controversial and disgusting but his record sales certainly say that we came back for more and were always fascinated by what he would say next. Tyler has that same appeal and ‘Yonkers’ will be the point where he went from bubbling under to navigating his own tidal wave of offense much to the discomfort of those he lampoons.
From that first stalking beat, that’s eerily similar to the music from the infamous shower scene in Psycho, we’re under the impression that something foul and acerbic is about to escape Tyler’s mouth. The argument between Tyler and his alter-ego, Haley Wolf ensues. ‘I’m a fucking walking paradox,’ proclaims Tyler before Haley bites back with a declarative ‘No I’m not’. The warped distortion that envelops Tyler’s vocal when he portrays or ‘releases’ Haley makes for a more convincing double act, much in the vein of Jekyll and Hyde. The paradox resurfaces: ‘Green paper, gold teeth and pregnant golden retrievers/ All I want, fuck money, diamonds and bitches, don’t need them’. The two lines mirror each other. Wolf Haley wants these material possessions but Tyler is against that. It draws a line between the two personalities whilst the similarity of the objects listed in the two lines draws Tyler and Haley together.
This relentless paradox reverses the criticism, putting it on the listener and the general population.
‘Yonkers’ is more than a running critical paradox of himself- it comments on the human condition. Tyler highlights our inability to make time for each other’s problems (‘Here’s the number to my therapist/ You tell him all your problems, he’s fucking awesome with listening’). This is followed by Tyler telling Jesus ‘to quit bitching’ before lambasting his own therapist for ‘not fucking working, I think I’m wasting my damn time’. Tyler rejects Religion despite including ‘Creator’ in his stage name and this relentless paradox reverses the criticism, putting it on the listener and the general population. It makes the listener look at themselves and realise that I too criticise and complain about other people’s actions or decisions when I have so many imperfections of my own. It paints ‘Yonkers’ as something more intelligent than a superb development of the traditional trap beat. The lyricism poses a thought-provoking comment on so many themes and ideas. The content comes in at both ends of the spectrum, everywhere from the dark truths of the aforementioned Eminem to the comic, contemporary lyricism of Childish Gambino (as much as Tyler would probably hate to be compared to him).