In Defense of Tyler, the Creator’s Bear-Poking ‘Tamale’ Video
Why you should like the Odd Future rapper's latest 'Wolf' clip — and the rapper himself
Tyler, the Creator’s latest video opens with a single-frame decoder ring: a photo of a tamale with the price $3.91. The Odd Future leader was born in March of 1991, so one might assume that he is, in fact, that titular Mesoamerican delight where this clip is concerned. Oh, and there’s the part above that which reads “A visual interpretation of Tyler’s mind.”
If you found the man’s Wolf tough to swallow, the video may help. Under his Wolf Haley director’s guise, the Creator has a knack for exposing just how blown out his lyrics are meant to be, whether deeply puerile or naively deep. The clip for “Tamale” also tacks on a clutch bit of “Answer,” illustrating both sides of the “controversial” Los Angeles MC’s brain.
Oh, and there’s a Pharrell cameo that our host is very excited about. But first: “Tamale.” The frenetically percussive track finds Tyler attacking that quoted word above (the “controversy”) by stringing together crass euphemisms for hidden body parts, rapping about fapping, and calling Spike Lee the N-word. But the visuals follow along, usually garishly cartoonish, and when he reaches the line about the director, they go pixelated. There appears to be an overalls-and-all hoedown going on behind the blur, but Haley overlays it with the following words:
“Due to the ‘graphic’ nature of this film I was forced to blue because people aren’t ready to have intelligent conversations before they judge. Welcome to America.”
That’s likely a jab at the folks who cried “racist” over his final Mountain Dew ad starring Felicia the Goat. Especially since the next shot finds a miniaturized Tyler treating a black woman’s butt like a trampoline, accompanied by the words, “But this shit is allowed.” It’s not the first time he winks to his own purported misogyny. Later the Creator is seen mock-pleasuring himself to a book titled Homophobia Beans Misogyny Bad 666 Gimmick. Also, the shot is framed up with a level of precision nearing Wes Anderson’s.
On the way out, “Tamale” smash-cuts into “Answer,” a low-key groove in which Tyler first croons, then picks apart his deadbeat dad with overblown sarcasm and anger that eventually gives way to his sadness and desire for connection with a father figure. He gleefully subs OFWGKTA manager Christian Clancy in for the roll, and it’s telling that Pharrell is there holding time on the drums, but the same sort of emotions that typified Tyler’s first album, Bastard, are felt and seen here.