Add it to the canon: “Yonkers,” “Domo23,” “Who Dat Boy,” “Okra,” “Potato Salad,” and now “Lumberjack,” the songs where Tyler, the Creator is really rapping. Throw in “French,” “Rella,” and “Deathcamp,” and you’ll see Tyler does this before all of his albums, pulling together some of his best verses as if to say, Ignore the antics, the fashion lines, and the sun-soaked synths, you care because this guy can rap his head off.
“Lumberjack” delights in being self-reflexive; he’s still trying as hard as ever, while almost smirking at himself for trying at all. The sinister Tyler-produced beat is built on a sample of Gravediggaz’s “2 Cups of Blood,” and, before you know it, DJ Drama is shouting and dropping Gangsta Grillz tags. Tyler even invites Odd Future mainstays Domo Genesis, L-Boy, and Taco just to lose their minds in the background about how hard Tyler’s going, like it’s “What the Fuck Right Now.”
“Lumberjack” also follows “Who Dat Boy” as a song that embraces and amplifies rap’s mean-mugging tropes. Tyler murmurs, “Rolls-Royce pull up, Black boy hop out,” and, “Call me Lumberjack ’cause I wish a n—a would,” recurring lines that transcend with confidence and conviction. He strips the genre to its core elements: a spare minor-key beat, an understated delivery, and unfussy, inarguably tough bars.