He’s a self-proclaimed “f—in’ walkin’ paradox,” and in 2011, contradiction is the new “keeping it real,” as Tyler, the Creator proved each time he opened his mouth — whether to rap or eat a cockroach. Much like his music, Tyler’s breakout video for “Yonkers” was as shocking as it was artistic, earning him VMA noms for Best New Artist and Video of the Year.
“I’m really excited, shout-out to Ron Artest. If I lose to any of those wackass videos, I’m gonna be mad because they all suck — except for Adele’s,” Tyler told MTV News of his nomination in July.
Tyler himself directed the black-and-white clip for “Yonkers” under the alias Wolf Haley. The song’s rhyme couplets are as striking as the images. The rebel rapper basically told Christ to grow a pair when he spit, “Jesus called, he said he’s sick of the disses/ I told him to quit bitchin’, this isn’t a f—in’ hot line.” It is rabblerousing like this that propelled Tyler and his crew of hip-hop misfits Odd Future to the forefront of rap’s conversation this year. The actual art seemingly took a backseat with critics.
It all erupted in 2009 when Tyler released his free digital album, Bastard. The online fanfare would spill over, shining a light on Creator’s group as well: Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. In addition to Tyler, there is the exiled Earl, Hodgy Beats, Left Brain, Domo Genesis, Mike G and R&B fire-starter Frank Ocean, among others.
By the time Tyler and the group performed the single “Sandwitches” with the Roots on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” in February, the hype began to spill over, and seemingly everyone was talking about the rapping kid who decorated his stage with gnomes and wore a green ski mask on national television.
Simple yet effective, the “Yonkers” video — which has racked up more than 18 million views on YouTube — starts with the rapper seated on a stool, rapping the song’s lyrics while playing with a large cockroach, which he later throws up. A visibly disturbed Tyler continues to spit the track’s second verse, stripping off his shirt then putting his neck in a noose. In the video’s shocking ending, the MC stands up on the chair and kicks the stool from under his feet as his legs dangle in a simulated suicide. “Damn, I’m Looking At The Video Treatment I wrote In This Blackberry Back In Jan. F—!” Tyler tweeted after he learned of the nomination.
For someone who notoriously bucks critics and mainstream music outlets, snagging a Moonman is pretty high on Tyler, the Creator’s to-do list. Then again he is a “f—in’ walkin’ paradox.”
The 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards will air live Sunday from Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following the Selena Gomez-hosted pre-show at 8. See the list of nominees, revisit last year’s highlights and vote for Best New Artist by visiting VMA.MTV.com.