Controversial opinion; Tyler, The Creator is one of the most important personalities right now. At face value, he’s a crude musician with a flair for neon colors in his fashion line, GOLF WANG, but at second glance, he’s a true renascence man. If one takes into consideration how many artists have come out of the Odd Future camp because of Tyler (the Internet, Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt to name a few), along with his successful clothing line making a noticeable impact in the streetwear world, and THEN throw in his punk-ethos hip hop, then you’d see the California artist is one of the most prolific characters in the last decade. The guy has made such an impression that it’s hard to think about a music scene that existed before his influence even though his first mixtape, Bastard, came out eight years ago.
Nevertheless, we have him now and most people are thankful for that. A couple days ago, Tyler, The Creator came out with his fourth full-length, Flower Boy; a perfect portrayal of an artist moving away from his energetic delivery towards a mellow sound without losing his lyrical edge.
Like the prior three albums, Flower Boy is an experience that’s meant to be taken in full. This is best exemplified by the old hip hop trope of filler tracks and sections Tyler uses that transport his audience between songs like thirty second Sometimes…, or at the end of Boredom when a car radio sample is used to overlap with the beginning of I Ain’t Got Time!. There’s also an interesting track towards the end that only lasts for a minute and predominantly features a verse from Lil’ Wayne with very little Tyler thrown in at the end. These are the tracks that make Flower Boy a listening experience and not just a group of songs waiting in line to become singles; an unfortunate trend in music’s throw-away culture.
Because the album is to be taken all at once, it’s tough to choose songs that stand out. There are the two official singles that were released a couple weeks ago; Who Dat Boy and 911/Mr. Lonely. The Former, Who Dat Boy (Ft. A$AP Rocky) is a classic track when it comes to the Tyler, The Creator’s old sound. The song opens with a horror movie synth playing a two chord progression and after the elongated introduction Tyler comes in with the hook followed by a cheeky verse poking fun at everyone that doubted him in his genesis. It should be noted that A$AP Rocky’s verse is a perfect accompaniment as his classic, east coast take on rap acts is the yin to Tyler’s yang.
Who Dat Boy is also one of two tracks on Flower Boy that this writer would deem a ‘banger’ by any means (the other one being I Ain’t Got Time). As stated above, the new album from Tyler, The Creator is a push towards his mellow side without losing the rawness in his words. Rather than using sharp synthesizers on top of 808s, there’s more organic instrumentation on the album. The other single released before the album 911/Mr. Lonely (Ft. Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean & Anna Of The North) features a strong guitar presence on the instrumental as do many of the other songs on Flower Boy including Where This Flower Blooms and Garden Shed. The piano also plays a major role on songs like Sometimes and See You, Again.
Still, Tyler seems to be one of the only rappers talking about his life without a filter. There’s been rumors surrounding the release of Flower Boy about Tyler coming out of the closet on some tracks. All I’ll say about this is that the sexuality of an artist is no one’s business unless the artist in question wants it to be. On the song I Ain’t Got Time there’s a bar that goes “Next line will have ‘em like ‘Whoa’, I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004”. As fans will know, Tyler, The Creator is extremely outspoken and known to push buttons especially the media’s. Personally, it’s this writer’s opinion that he’s trying to troll someone. However, if the rapper IS trying to shed light on his sexual preference, I still support him and it doesn’t change any of my opinions on his music.
So how do I end this without being too wordy? There are so many points on Flower Boy that deserve their own articles as well as the state of Tyler, The Creator’s career which deserves a book. Tyler’s come a long way since making shock-rap mix tapes in his friends’ basements. What Flower Boy is, is an inside look at an artist that won’t stop creating. He’s earned a seat at the table and now he’s working tirelessly to keep that seat.
Click here to listen to See You, Again.
– By Mike Metcalf