Album: Goblin (2011)
It was the cockroach heard round the world. With one bite Tyler affirmed his place in hip-hop history. To think it all began as a joke. In an episode of Golf Radio, Tyler detailed the making of his classic song:
“Niggas don’t know that that beat was made as a joke. I was trying to make a shitty New York beat and we was just rapping like we was from New York like we were retarded. And then, I just had some random verses and I was just like ‘I’ll just record it to this beat, this beat is kinda cool.’ And then niggas really liked it. That’s so nuts, because that shit was actually a fucking joke. I made that beat in literally eight minutes.”
“Yonkers” would go on to amass over 90 million plays on YouTube, win an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, and be featured in numerous end of year lists from Rolling Stone, Time, and The Guardian. No matter how it was created or the massive success that ensued, “Yonkers” ultimately succeeds, because of its minimalistic brilliance. The opening line, “I’m a fucking walking paradox — no I’m not,” launches Tyler into a cacophonous blizzard of dizzying rhymes, like in the first verse:
Swallow the cinnamon
I'ma scribble this sin and shit, while Syd is tellin' me that she's been gettin' intimate with men (Syd, shut the fuck up!)
Here's the number to my therapist (Shit!)
You tell him all your problems, he's fuckin' awesome with listenin'
The way Tyler rhymes cinnamon with the words sin, gettin’, intimate, men, and listenin’ is a marvel. However, where the intricacy of the line comes to the forefront is when Tyler uses the word “shit” to stretch the pattern to encompass words like Syd, the “mate” in intimate, and therapist, shows a dexterity people rarely give Tyler credit for. The complexity of “Yonkers” continues when you start connecting the theme of paradoxes to the songs most impressive lines — “I'm an overachiever, so how about I start a team of leaders/And pick up Stevie Wonder to be the wide receiver?” or “Green paper, gold teeth, and pregnant golden retrievers/All I want; fuck money, diamonds and bitches! Don't need 'em.”
Tyler has had more emotional songs. There are better beats in his catalog. He’s had better verses. However, “Yonkers” was a specific moment in time where everything negative and positive that had been said about him, Odd Future, and their movement came together to be bigger than the sum of its parts.