For a little over a decade, Tyler, The Creator has been an artist that many around my age have revered. Dating all the way back to middle school with his Bastard mixtape, Odd Future and his first album Goblin, you were familiar with Tyler.
It also helps that he happened to hail from my neck of the woods on the westside of Los Angeles.
Early on in his career, however, I didn’t buy the hype. While I found Tyler hilarious and all the Loiter Squad skits as absolute comedic gold, he never seemed to separate the comedy from his artistry.
Now, there are some great tracks sprinkled throughout the early stages of Tyler’s career, but most of it appeared to exist for shock value and to really garner reactions all across the spectrum from people ignoring it because it wasn’t good or people who wanted to vomit and cancel Tyler because the stuff he was saying was so vulgar.
We started seeing a slight shift in his sound and artistic style on the 2015 album Cherry Bomb, but the record wasn’t fully thought out and still lacked quality throughout.
Then, came Flower Boy and did my thoughts on Tyler ever change.
It’s one thing to see an artist improve from album to album or one who drops a great record early and plateaus, but continues to put out consistently good albums. However, Tyler has discovered some artistic and creative oasis that he has put himself in to think these albums through and make every single decision flawless; that’s my of describing this streak he is on with Flower Boy, IGOR, which is one of the great breakup albums of our time and now, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST.
If there’s one way I can sum up this album, it’s simply taking the best qualities of the two prior records and mixing them together to produce what might be the most unique, creative and well thought out rap album we get in the 2020s. It’s only 2021.
When you can take an NBA Youngboy, an artist I have little faith in delivering quality flows and making him angelic, you’ve done something unprecedented, and I guess that’s how Tyler’s progression has come to be. It’s unprecedented what he has done over the last half decade.
The lead single “LUMBERJACK” brings us back to the early and mid-2010s Tyler who is going hard over an eerie and unsettling instrumental. It’s certainly an announcement that the man is back.
Going into the full record, I was caught off guard by the heavy presence of DJ Drama, but this is an album Tyler’s been envisioning for a long time as he’s praised the producer for quite some time and has been wanting to work with him since 2010.
I’m not one to reference memes in my writing, but listening to this record, you just start transcending. Once you get past “CORSO” and “LEMONHEAD”, which are vintage Tyler bangers and good in their own right (even though the 42 Dugg feature is interesting), the journey through Tyler’s thoughts and his writing hits another level.
“WUSYANAME” sees Tyler falling head over heels for this woman and he starts listing off all the things they should do together and this is the track where that incredible Youngboy feature comes to play. Not to mention, we’ve got Ty Dolla $ign blessing us again with layered vocals.
The production on “HOT WIND BLOWS” makes you have to pause because you don’t understand how it sounds this good. Just like the sample used, the material of the song is luxurious, but Tyler does it in such a subtle way because his voice just blends so well within an instrumental that you only want to enjoy the experience of listening to the song. Plus, Lil Wayne drops one great feature on the track as well. Again, Tyler knows how to make every single featured artist on a given record sound their best and this album is no exception.
On the following track, we get Tyler’s best-written track in “MASSA.”
At the onset of the song, Tyler says that he didn’t hit puberty until 23, which goes to show that he recognizes his immaturity early on in his rise to fame. He, then, goes to reference his prior works all while discussing the everyday struggles of living as a Black man in the United States.
Track 8 is easily the weakest on the album. “RUNITUP” doesn’t do much to progress the album and while I do enjoy the production, I just think the Teezo Touchdown feature was too much of a reach to bring on the record.
“MANIFESTO” sees Tyler reference him getting canceled in the past and all the controversy he’s been surrounded by through his career, but it’s the seamless transition from his laidback, chill vibe to Domo Genesis putting in work over what sounds like some work only the great Kanye West could put together.
Now, a near 10-minute track will turn people off, but Tyler wasn’t going to have a song last this long if it didn’t progressively get more listenable through its runtime.
“SWEET” is the first half of the track and it’s a glistening, easy-on-the-ear and lush listen wear Tyler, along with the vocal king Brent Faiyaz, go full simp on a girl and telling her everything they want her to know, but it’s the back half in “I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” that will blow listeners away.
We go from this love ballad to dancing on an island paradise, but Tyler’s beginning to find out that this girl was leading him on and he’s having a hard time understanding why he won’t fall for her and finds himself in denial by the 9:48 mark. Just when you think the track overstays its welcome, it’s the last minute that almost had me in tears because the beauty of the layered vocals is just incomparable to anything else I’ve listened to. It’s delightful.
“RISE!” continues the absurd level of quality in this album. The layered instrumentals are pure magic and DAISY WORLD’s vocals throughout the track are gorgeous. At this point, Tyler’s just showing off. Track after track is a heat check and he won’t stop missing from beyond the arc.
We get Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell on “JUGGERNAUT” and it’s a fine track. It’s definitely not bad, but not something that matches the quality of its predecessors and then the closing tracks are just the book end equivalent to that 37-point quarter Klay Thompson had a few years ago.
For an artist to hold your attention while he raps in detail about his love life for over eight minutes on “WILSHIRE” is not something any rapper can pull off these days. I’d say the only other artist that could do it is Kendrick Lamar, but even that feels like a reach.
“SAFARI” is the boisterous and loud lid on the record where Tyler can now go travel and enjoy the world after leaving listeners with what is just a masterful album.
Tyler is in his bag right now. Whoever is helping him in production and picking the perfect features for every track is doing everything right. It’s a special time if you are a big fan of Tyler’s music because we are witnessing the most creative work from a rapper in this current time.
Richest Tracks: “CORSO”, “LEMONHEAD”, “WUSYANAME”, “LUMBERJACK”, “HOT WIND BLOWS”, “MASSA”, “MANIFESTO”, “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE”, “RISE!”, “WILSHIRE”, “SAFARI”
Worst Track: “RUNITUP”
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM: