Tyler the Creator: A Conceptual Mess

Hi there! Small break over. I am still unemployed but I am out of bed and also wearing pants. By out of bed I mean that I have migrated from the bed to the couch, but it still totally counts. Anyway, with an abundance of free time I have been scouring the internets for something to write about. My friend directed me towards the new Tyler the Creator video.

For those of you not familiar, Tyler the Creator is a rapper and part of the Odd Future collective (their full name being, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All… obviously). Their known for abrasive, often sexually violent lyrical content and calling out things that they percieve as being bullshit. ‘Bullshit’ usually consists of genres that exist outside of the tiny DIY bubble they’ve created for themselves. I can’t fault them on their DIY ingenuity – they’ve used various social media networks to build a massive global audience. Shockingly enough, I’ve never been a huge fan. But then again, I’m not really the target audience.

Dudes in their late teens and early 20s practically wet themselves over Tyler’s debut Bastard and the follow-up, Goblin. Pitchfork called Badstard “one of the most stunning things released in the last 12 months” back in 2010. Which I guess is true. It SOUNDS really interesting. Tyler’s voice is great and the musical accompaninment has all these lovely weird influences that make it really entertaining to listen to. But I’m not an angry teenage dude and jokes about sexual violence are never really gonna float my boat (or many female boats anywhere ever, let’s be real) so it was never something that was going levitate with joy. But I will confess that I have Yonkers somewhere on my computer and that I’ve watched the video a lot, because it’s really interesting.

Click the image to go to the video.

Click the image to go to the video.

But the problem with being supremely controversial is that it’s very hard to keep being controversial because eventually people know what to expect and who to expect it from and it isn’t shocking anymore. I have a sneaking suspicion what’s happened here. This is the new video. It’s kind of a conceptual mess.

Musically, it’s fine, I guess. Lyrically, it’s even vaguely more palatable than some of their other stuff which is… something? I don’t know. Anyway, the video is such a non-event. For a group that’s featured a hanging, domestic violence, ejaculations and centaurs in their videos and managed to make it seem like it was coherent and maybe even meaningful. But here we’ve just got the obligatory overly large penis, some wrestling, a bit of weed smoking and a sudden jump to some pastel romance montage that ends in him being slapped.

Anorexic models and huge cocks. What does it all mean?

Anorexic models and huge cocks. What does it all mean?

Like, it’s so nonsensical that it borders on being boring which is probably not what they’re going for. I think the saving grace for this particular output is the fact that Tyler seems to be aware of its ‘hit and miss’ nature. He tweeted “I WANT BUSTA AND MISSY TO HEAR IT REALLY. I’M SO NERVOUS WHAT IF EVERYONE HATE IT AND I GO BROK FUCK AHHH… THE FAD IS OVER AND I GOTTA WORK AT SOMEWHERE LIKE THESE REGULAR NIGGAS AHHH NO IM SHAKING.” Having said that, as my friend so eloquently put it, “it’s gotten to the point where he could record the sound of a dogs having sex, sample it and people would still buy it” so he’s probably not gonna have to go “work at somewhere”.

Anyway, that’s me done for the day. If you want to read a more in depth article about the problematic nature of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All and Tyler then you should read this article. It’s any interesting look at inclusion and exclusion. Meanwhile, Pitchfork continues to shit itself every time he releases something so Tyler’s probably got a while left in him yet.

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Azealia Banks’ Liquorice Whip

You guys are super-lucky today, because I’m on holidays and have had a lot of time on my hands. As such, it’s double update day!

One of my favourite things to happen in the last couple of months has been the surprise success of Azealia Banks’ 212. I love some filth and fury as much as the next person, but after enduring a year of having male friends and acquaintances tell me why Tyler the Creator and the Odd Futures gang were the most interesting thing to happen to the musical landscape since whatever else had been fashionable 12 months earlier, it’s really nice to hear an actual female voice pedalling some jazz about getting her plum eaten, ya know? In case you  missed it, it looks/sounds like this:

So, with a suddenly popular single that drops the c-bomb as part of its chorus, features some seriously catchy dance hooks and has a video that is inexplicably cool, the question is: where to from here? Cue the release of the official video for Liquorice.

I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s like four costume changes and a story-line. In other words, since the first single was so damn popular, someone has started pouring money in. Like, a lot of money. Unfortunately, it’s into a single that just isn’t as good.

Leaving aside for a minute the fact that the video is stupid (devil horns vs. a western shoot out…what?), musically Liquorice has tried to replicate what 212 already perfected. Both tracks pinch their samples from some pretty generic house tunes – Lazy Jay’s Float My Boat and Lone’s Pineapple Crush, for those of you playing along at home – and they both feature impressive word-smithery from Banks. However, where 212 makes you remember maybe why you went through that ‘house music phase’ a couple of years ago, if anything Liquorice makes you realise why you got out of it. There’s too much going on – the hectic drum sample, the grating synth and Banks’ jammed in chorus, all mash together to make a tune that, while listenable has none of the unexpected fun of 212.

Just because the money is going into pushing one kind of average single doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a decent Azealia Banks fix. There’s plenty of other tunes floating around YouTube – the rest of her 1991 EP is actually pretty good, and the Hudson Mohawk-produced Jumanji, from her forthcoming effort is, I suspect, destined to be remixed all summer. Hopefully, she’ll continue to produce lines like “bitch is fishier than chip shop” and we can all be happy.

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