Tyler, the Creator – Yonkers

There’s a gaping black void at the center of Tyler, the Creator, a determined and incessant ugliness that infuses all he turns his mind to. “I’mma scribble this sinnin’ shit” is basically a mission statement for him and his Odd Future cohort, but it’s not just a scampish desire to outrage. It’s as if he looks at people — including himself — and sees nothing worth liking. All of which would be observation, not praise, were it not for the gripping charisma with which Tyler undertakes his turn to the bestial. On “Yonkers,” he rids himself of the pain of being a man with a beat built from a mechanical whir, like his mind is a disc drive with a malfunctioning floppy inside. He visits a psychiatrist, he pops pills, he watches cartoons, he experiences confusion about his sexuality, he gets upset about pop singers and internet writers, he drowns in the numbing stasis of his song. Where Slim Shady — who also liked to make reference to school shootings — was Eminem’s response to late ’90s anomie, Tyler’s banal provocations are focused on the personal. Or — more precisely — the destruction of the same.

Jukebox says [6.60], which is far too low, particularly considering that flaccid David Banner track ended up on [7.00] (My fault; I should have blurbed it and given it the [4] it deserved.) Anyways, this is the first time I’ve written about OFWGKTA. What strikes me about this music is how much self-loathing it contains; Tyler constantly seems to be trying to turn himself into the monster he believes himself to be. I didn’t get to work in discussion about the air of arrested development seediness or the smart-ass wisecrack in the first line (“I’m a fucking walking paradox/No, I’m not”) that is meant to be clever, but is actually just teenage game-playing, and hence clever in spite of itself. I daresay I’ll work up more to say about Tyler and pals, but for now, if you have not seen this video, you should.