Tyler, The Creator – WOLF – The STiXXclusive Review

            Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) is the most controversial rap group to emerge in recent years since N.W.A first came to be the powerhouse force that they were. The mastermind behind it all is Tyler, The Creator, and he’s the reason why I’m a fan of this group in the first place. Everything started off with Bastard, where we were introduced to a teenager that had his issues without having a father (hence the title) and we were also introduced to the rest of the group – and that was just on a mixtape. The lyrics were raw, raunchy, and the approach was original and creative. That would be something that people would have to come to terms with; he’s authentic and although it’s not pretty, at least it’s real.

            Bastard was the introduction to the personality that we would know as Ace, and in Goblin, that’s where we were introduced to Wolf Haley. Amongst the numerous other characters that Tyler has developed, those were his main rapper personas that we’d hear repetitively over the course of 4 years. The progression from his first 2 albums and the collective mixtapes have shown listeners that his production skills are raw, and with little sampling but yet a lot of natural musical talent. Aside from his abilities of a producer, he’s shown that he can actually rap, aside from the fact that people compare him to the likes of Eminem because of his over-the-top gore rhymes and punk-rock type of energy that he delivers. With his second (technically 3rd) album, the question was: is he going to revert to his Bastard or Goblin rhymes? Well, there were some good signs from The OF Tape Vol.2, but nothing clear to determine what he’d bring – and considering his first single, some people thought it would have taken the Goblin approach, but this is part of a Trilogy that he put in place years before, so here it is, the final piece to the puzzle – WOLF

            Tyler has expressed his love of Intros, and for each of his projects, he’s had some good intros that have all started off the same with his ‘therapist’, Dr. TC (Tyler Creator). This time started off a little different, as WOLF was more melodic and cinematic. It felt as if you were watching the opening of 20th Century Fox with the Lucasfilm Star Wars music coming into the picture. It wasn’t exactly of that nature, but it was creative in Tyler fashion, as he was ad-libing along with the chords of the piano. Afterwards, we were introduced to the characters and it appeared that they were at a camp site. The characters were Dr. TC, Wolf & Sam. Now, the only recollection I have of the name Sam, comes from the song Sam (Is Dead) off of the OF Tape Vol.2. Wolf being the new kid, Sam doesn’t like him (natural attitude towards newbies), and then the story continues. It’s funny, because in an interview with L.A Weekly, Tyler stated that he feels like an outsider in the music industry, so maybe Wolf (in this case) is the outsider just trying to make a name for himself as he’s the ‘new kid on the block.’

Jamba starts off sort of like the same way ‘Seven’ did, but this time, Tyler’s had a lot of success to this point, so he’s addressing how his relationship with his father has (somewhat) moved a long, but it’s still pretty much non-existent. With more money, obviously he’s going to do a bit of bragging, as most rappers do when they’ve earned some bank in their careers – Tyler is no different, but he’s still the same eccentric Tyler rapping about putting his dick in women’s faces and doing ‘hoodrat shit’, except it’s on TV and on Tours. On rapper from Odd Future who’s been sort of off the radar has been Hodgy Beats. Since his Untitled EP, he hasn’t been around much (with the exception of the OF Tape). Odd Future is still taking flack from critics and people all over because of their content, so they’ll always rap with a chip on their shoulders and aggression – it’s what makes them so captivating and unique. An example of their lashing out was expressed by Hodgy in his verse, as per usual. Tyler doesn’t smoke, so it was funny to hear him giving his views on his experiences with ‘Mary (J. Wanna).’ The story continues and for the duration of the album, it’ll bounce between Wolf & Sam repeatedly and the songs reflect the personalities.

Cowboy is the first track to emphasize the emotional feeling the Tyler is experiencing in his life. I love the way that the beat kicks in (especially with the bass), but these are the type of songs that I can appreciate Tyler for, and even the people who have only heard Goblin, they can hear the honesty in his lyrics. The meaning behind “I am a Cowboy on my own trip” suggests that he’s somewhat of a lone ranger because no one can really understand who he is. This is the first time that Tyler addresses his Grandmother’s passing (more references later), and what his life has been like with touring and all that jazz. All rappers go through some tough times, and in one particular line, I’m sure a lot of artists can relate: “You’d think all this money would make a happy me, but I’m bout as lonely as the crackers supermodels eat.” You could have all the money in the world, but it’s the smaller things in life that contribute greater to your happiness, so I get where he’s coming from with that. The misunderstanding that a lot of people have with Tyler is that he only raps about foolishness for attention, and that he really can’t rap, which is quite the contrary, because he can be personal when he wants to. He even addressed (subliminally) the Trayvon Martin situation (mentions of the Black hoodie, Arizona & Skittles), and he’s essentially around his age, so that’s definitely something to make note of – that he actually pays attention to some stuff in the world outside of his own. With that being  said, he does look in his own life and see that he makes so much, while his friends make so little, but they don’t have the same goals and/or ambitions as him, so he doesn’t feel bad about it. I can relate to that, because I’ve always felt like an outsider in my own circle, but once you get outside of your comfort zone and you figure out what it is that you want for yourself, it helps you grow. This is a growing process for Tyler that he’s going through, and that’s what the listeners are meant to understand. The story continues on, and we’re introduced to Sam’s girlfriend – Salem.

Everyone has always felt a bit Awkward when it comes to girls, because they’re ‘a different animal but the same beast’ (Thanks, Kobe), and what I mean by that is, they’re human, but it’s a different nature when it comes to speaking with them. This is Sam’s recollection of meeting Salem (it’s reminiscent of Sarah from Bastard, but it’s not a prom date that he’s looking for anymore). Everything changes after that first kiss, because the questions are always (ALWAYS): ‘So, this is happening? We’re really doing this?’ It’s also the first time that we hear GRAMMY Award Winning Odd Future member (it’s crazy saying that), Frank Ocean – and why not have him on the album? He is Odd Future, in case people seemed to forget. Since the tone has been set as far as what the album would be a reflection of, it was interesting to hear what happens, song after song.

In Philadelphia, in 2012, a friend and I attended the inaugural ‘Made In America’ festival that was started up by Jay-Z. Odd Future was one of the many acts that were picked by Hov to perform on a day during the weekend, and I was grateful to witness it (although I’d seen them the year prior, it didn’t matter). The show was in Odd Future fashion: stage dives, rowdy crowd, crowd-surfing; you know, the usual if you’ve ever been to one or have seen YouTube footage. At the end of the set, Tyler said that was going to perform something new, and that ‘something new’ turned out to be Domo 23. Serving as the ‘official’ single for WOLF, it was hype & rowdy, like in a Radicals/Sandwitches/French/Transylvania type of way. It’s all about balance, and you know there was going to be a point where one of these songs would emerge. I remember that a lot of older Odd Future fans were worried when Tyler started rapping about money, because well, he started to make some, but let’s be really honest here, you thought he was going to be broke forever? It’s inevitable, so he brought it up here and also an issue at Pitchfork Fest when a rally of protesters came to their show with pickets (which I find is hilarious). It’s just more things that he’s seen on his career progression, so even on tracks when he isn’t particularly ‘in-depth’, there’s still meaning with them.

Answer was my favourite beat so far on this album, because of that hard hitting bass and the guitar strings that went along with them. Aside from just the beat, the song itself takes us back to the emotional state of Tyler and the empty void of not having a father around. It’s bringing it back to ‘Seven’ when Dr. TC asked him what he would say if he had the chance to speak to him, so this is his attempt to reaching out and speaking to him. I can’t say that I’ve never had a father around, but the relationship that my father and I had was very distant, and there was a lot of void because we weren’t close, so there are still things that I can relate to – not having a father at home. In Tyler’s father’s case, he was young and just up and left, which ended up having to set a fire to his career, which has been the story for a lot of notable male figures (a majority of them, black) in the music industry (See, Jay-Z). Clancy (Odd Future’s manager) has been the father figure in Tyler’s life, and that shows essentially everywhere you see footage or hear music (listen to his 2nd verse on ‘Oldie’ where he mentions him as a father figure). Every boy needs an older figure in their lives to fill that void, and it’s a shame that it sometimes has to come from men that didn’t even play a role to them being born – it just is what it is. Regardless of all of that, he still hopes he can speak to his father; you feel for the guy when you hear songs like this, regardless if you’re a fan or not. Odd Future is a functional group with sometimes dysfunctional members, and the aura around them started off with Earl being M.I.A, then the incident with Frank Ocean (which is addressed later), Hodgy’s alcohol addiction, and Syd the Kid’s sexuality (but as he claims, she also might be bipolar). They’re a collective and entertaining group, but that doesn’t mean that they still don’t deal with personal issues. There was definitely more singing on this album than both of his projects, but this one was on the more emotional side, as he put before, so you had had to take that into consideration before listening to it.

Much like VCR/Wheels, Tyler has the ability to rap in the personality of random objects – in this case, Slater (being his bike) is the object of topic, but it’s like he’s on his bike riding around and just collecting his thoughts from his success and the feeling that he had when missing Earl, but now that he’s back, everything’s all good. It’s pretty redundant in content, but it’s a different approach because he still keeps with the story by incorporating his girlfriend, Salem in the picture, so it serves as necessary filler to keep things consistent.

48 starts off with a sound bite interview featuring Nas, and what he talks about is crack and the damaging effects of it, then out of nowhere you get this crazy bass kicking in with Frank Ocean on the hook (why not?). Music is a hustle that can be related to drug dealing, because you have customers, you service them, you make money, flip it to make more music; then repeat. You effect a lot of people in the process in a negative way, but at the end of the day, you’re doing it because you want to benefit for your lifestyle – having people to take care of is always a motivating factor as well, especially since now he’s able to buy things for his mom and put his sister through college. Even if he has to step on your dreams and ambitions by affecting you with his drug, he benefits from it. That’s the mindset of the hustler, and although he’s talking about dealing drugs in this song, it’s symbiotic of his musical career.

One thing about being famous that is truly an annoyance is having a large fan base that won’t let you live. Eminem had a great line when it came to explaining just how he felt about trying to be in public with fans:

Getting this stress that’s been eating me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully
But at least have the decency in you
To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
In the streets when I’m eating or feeding my daughter
To not come and speak to me, I don’t know you and no
I don’t owe you a mothafuckin’ thing
I’m not Mr. N’Sync, I’m not what your friends think
I’m not Mr. Friendly, I can be a prick
If you tempt me my tank is on empty –
The Way I Am

Colossus is a perfect example of when an artist is just trying to live their life and fans get in the way. The story starts off as Tyler is approached by a bunch of kids and they just want a picture, but then they go into ‘groupie mode’ and try to just get a picture as their explaining everything about them that makes them such a big fan and everything else. It’s nice to hear that you can positively inspire and help people through whatever craft it is that you pursue – in Tyler’s case, it’s the music.

Now I’m surrounded by a 25 hound of fuckers tryna get a photo
All because they noticed the top with the box logo
And them fucking ears, guarantee they didn’t even hear Bastard
They bandwagon-jumped me from a pogo, I’m going fucking loco

I found that line interesting because I’ve noticed that there were definitely a lot of people that jumped on the Odd Future bandwagon strictly from listening to ‘Yonkers’ (which he also mentioned in the song), and didn’t bother going back to listening to Bastard. The hypebeasts ruin a lot, and the hipsters hate it (birds fly, fish swim, STiXX writes, etc.), but it was funny that he brought it up on this track. A lot of people compared this to Eminem’s ‘Stan’, because Eminem was writing in the perspective of a deranged fan who really just wanted to be noticed by him. In a way, this is really similar, but replace writing a letter with sending a tweet. The scary thing is that there are people who really would do a lot for their favourite celebrities (have you ever seen a male groupie? Yeah…it’s scary), but Tyler takes it in stride and the kid finally gets his picture taken with him. Being famous (to quote a Gucci Mane meme) “is scressful bruh.” You have all of these fans coming up to you wanting to show their love and affection, when really you’re just trying to live a normal life, but when you’re a celebrity, there’s no such thing.

The common element that I’ve loved about this album is the flow and transitions of each song – it feels like it doesn’t have any breaks in between, and they just flow seamlessly into each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer was a great 3-piece combo full of electric soul, but it was pretty much Wolf in his transition to swoon Salem. Just as a reminder, Campfire sounds like a Camp Flog Gnaw chant, so it’s like an interlude that eventually leads up to Bimmer. Bimmer was previewed at the end of the ‘Domo 23’ video, and instantly, the response was “wooooaaaahhhh! What is thissss?” Ever since then, that’s all everyone wanted to hear, because the beat was so dope (I sound redundant, because all of the beats up to this point are dope). Bimmer is a beamer, which is a BMW for those not that up there with the wordplay. It goes back to Tyler referring to women as objects, and in this case, it’s a car. It sounded like vintage Neptunes, but his spin on it is authentic than anyone else’s right now, and Frank Ocean with the background vocals was pretty much perfect for the song. The heavy use of Frank on the album should already make it obvious that it’s a softer toned album in Tyler’s case, but he’s growing up, and expressing other emotions, so that’s always a good thing that there’s musical and personal progression. The outro at the end with L-Boy and Tyler (as Sam) used the word ‘Lake’, and if you’re an OF fan, you remember back to Analog 1 & 2, with the signature line being “meet me by the lake.” It’s crazy to know that Tyler made the Bimmer beat for Justin Bieber, but I’m glad he didn’t get it, because Tyler put it to great use.

IFHY (I Fuckin’ Hate You) is a real love song, because in every relationship, you do have the feeling sometimes that you absolutely hate the person you’re with, but you still love them for everything else. We’ve all experienced it and if you haven’t, then this is pretty much an idea of what to feels like to be emotionally attached to someone to a strong degree. The organs reminded me of the beginning of Frank Ocean’s ‘Bad Religion’, and it sets the tone that it’s an opening up of inner thoughts in a larger scale. Sam is mad that his girlfriend is off with another guy (although she’s not doing anything wrong) and he’s enraged, but he can’t suppress his emotions from spilling out with an abundance of love for her. The conversation between Wolf & Salem at the end is a segue to Samuel’s story and why he’s so brash in person.

No one likes the police, especially not Odd Future, especially when they’ve had songs called ‘Fuck The Police’, so it’s fitting that the name of this song is called Pigs. The first time I heard this song, I was walking down the street, and the sirens from the song tripped me out, because I thought they were actual sirens on the street and not just on the song. It still catches me off guard, but that’s beside the point. Sam is dealing with a lot of issues, especially because he’s been tormented by people who don’t like him, so they call him names often. It’s pretty much a reflection of Tyler’s personality, because he’s received a lot criticism because of his style. Bullies are often introverted individuals who were bullied as kids, so they lash out in an emotional furry towards those who have hurt them, whether they were bullies or girls that rejected them (Listen to: Sarah from Bastard). This track was raw, because it had that NY ‘Black Hoodie Rap’ that enticed not only an inner demon confession, but it was aggressive in nature that had a bopping beat behind it. This would be the sound that would carry on for the next few songs.

Parking Lot featured Mike G & Casey Veggies (Casey was on Bastard and was briefly an Odd Future member, but they’re still close to each other. This track was alright – it didn’t bring the wow out of me like other tracks, but it was still cool. Mike G is one member that I don’t particularly like that much, but his verse was dope on the track. It was more so a track to tell people that Loiter Squad (OF’s TV show) is here to stay until the Earth blows up. It’s mellow, but like I said, if there was one track to skip, it would probably be this one, but it’ll probably grow on me. As the story continues at the end, Wolf finds out that Sam is coming for him because he’s been hanging out with Salem (ahh, the plot thickens), and this is where things get interesting.

Rusty is the best overall rapped song on the album with all contributing verses from Tyler, Earl & Domo Genesis. Lashing out the haters has been the moniker of Odd Future’s style (Tyler dissed 2 Dope Boyz & Nahright in the beginning of Bastard for not showing him love), but to the people who have said that the hype of Odd Future has died down (maybe it has), they’re not paying attention to it, because they still have sold out shows and fans worldwide (seems legit to me). Domo got it started right off the bat with the flare that would transcend through the rest of the song; it was lethal. Tyler’s verse was the best thing about this because he spit nothing but truth. People have said that he’s this and that based on his lyrics, but people have seemed to take it in way too deep and consider it serious when really it’s entertainment:

The fuck am I saying? Tyler’s not even a violent name
I’m ’bout as threatening as stained windbreakers in hurricanes
But he rapes women, and spit wrong, like he hate dentists
God damn menace, 666 and he’s not finished
And my shit’s missing, he hates women, but loves kittens
See y’all niggas trippin’ man
Look at that article that says my subject matter is wrong
Saying I hate gays even though Frank is on 10 of my songs
Look at that Mom who thinks I’m evil, hold that grudge against me
Though I’m the reason that her motherfucking son got to eat
Look at the kid who had the 9 and tried to blow out his mind
But talk is money, I said, “Hi,” I guess I bought him some time

Those particular bars stood out to me the most, because I have friends, and you probably have friends that consider Tyler a devil worshipper (they watched Yonkers and nothing else) and that he talks about all of raping women and being blasphemous and homophobic – wrong. People can’t be satisfied, not even his fans, which he expresses his frustration towards that too:

Analog” fans are getting sick of the rape
All the “Tron Cat” fans are getting sick of the lakes
But what about me, bitch? I’m getting sick of complaints
But I don’t hate it when I’m taking daily trips to the bank
Over and over, shit, who gives a fuck what I think?
My fans don’t think turning on me, shit, they’re almost extinct
Fuck buying studio time. I’mma go purchase a shrink
Record the session and send all you motherfuckers a link, bitch

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “We will not be satisfied”, because it’s all truth; fans only want everything that they want to hear from their favourite artists and don’t become accustomed to change – it’s a sad sight, but it’s normal. You can’t expect to have the same thing over and over again if there’s no progression. It doesn’t benefit the artist, much to your chagrin. It’s just something that you have to deal with. Earl’s verse was significant because it signifies the comeback trail that he’s been on since coming back from hiatus and the entire ‘Free Earl’ movement. Getting back to living his life and keeping up with his career, the path is set for him to grow greatly as an individual rapper. You have to appreciate the fact that Tyler allows his whole camp to eat by featuring them on his albums (yes, even Taco & Jasper). They’re a tight collective group, and the natural bond that they form really is rare these days because it doesn’t feel forced, and they feed off each other naturally. Unfortunately, Earl’s verse gets cut short because he gets shot midway (sort of like Kendrick Lamar’s first verse on ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’ and when Tyler shot Taco and Jasper at the end of BSD). Sam is looking for Wolf, and he demands some answers – let’s see if he gets any.

Speaking of BSD (Bitch Suck Dick), it wouldn’t be right if Taco & Jasper didn’t have a wilding out track to go off on (This also includes ‘Swag Me Out’), and also with the new addition of punk rock group, Trash Talk, the song Trashwang combined the both and created this hood-banging anthem. “I want the black kids to like me for this one, man” was funny to me, because Odd Future has a predominantly white fan base, and Black people don’t really mess with them (slowly increasing). The song features verses from Taco, Jasper, Lucas (the random white dude with the group), Na’Kel (skater), and Lee Speilman (screamer from Trash Talk). A random collective, but the beat a lone just turned up the energy on another level. It was all good, all the time. You can’t help but to throw some elbows and go nuts – it’s a Black people’s version of Radicals – except with an assortment of gunshots and DJ Stank Daddy tags (Tyler’s Summer Camp Mix DJ name, if you don’t know)

When Tyler was on Jimmy Fallon, he premiered Treehome95 with Coco-O (beautiful woman), and the final version was to feature the legend, Erykah Badu. This is Salem’s song on the album, and it’s probably the best one because it’s so soulful and again, that distinctive Neptunes sound that embraces the ears is just heavenly, but with Tyler’s spin. It feels like something The Internet would sing over, because if you’ve listened to Naked Purple Ladies, it wouldn’t be hard to make that connection. The song is mainly instrumental, and there really is no need to an abundance of vocals because it just rides so smooth; it feels so jazzy, and Erykah with her little touch just added the cherry on top. Replay value is astronomical on this one. I think that this album can appeal to more people than what is expected because of the assortment of sounds on it.

Tamale came out of nowhere with this salsa/samba/African style and it was crazy (another party amplifier). Random lyrics all over and a Spanish voice throughout the hook made this beyond enjoyable. Much like Trashwang, this track is one that brings out the fun in Tyler’s music, but this is something that you could actually dance to with a partner or something (hey, Dancing With The Stars, pay attention); nothing more, nothing less – all fun.

At the ending of each of his projects, Tyler has these last sessions with Dr. TC going over just what he’s feeling and what’s going on in his life. It started off with ‘Inglorious’ when he was talking about not having his father around, and then on Goblin, it was ‘Golden’, which dealt with his growing success, touring and having to adjust to the life of stardom and the music business. This time around, it was time for Lone, and the beat was just so smooth (not a sample, by the way) and it was time for Tyler to just open up (as Sam). Earlier, he mentions the passing of his grandmother, and he elaborated on it more when it came down to the incident when he had to visit her in the hospital, only for her to eventually pass away. 21 years old with more adult responsibilities than most, the pressure has definitely weighed on his brain to the point of him wanting to quit the rap game, but because of his success and the fact that he can take care of his mother, he pushes on. It’s the story for many who work hard for what they want, because they want better for those that matter the most to them. It got really personal, and it was definitely a reflection of ‘Inglorious’ because it was deep and meaningful. I could only wish that people listened to these type of songs with full understanding before passing judgement (we all do it, understandable, but give people a fair shot before you do). It was really personal, especially for me, because I lost my grandmother too (saw her probably a week or two prior) and when you’re close to someone and you don’t know what it’s like to experience death, you really feel a different way about it, so it’s humbling for Tyler that he opened up about such a personal subject (yet again).

I like this album a lot, because you can hear the musical and personal development that Tyler has brought since Goblin. Being on tour and developing his stardom as well as the groups’ popularity was his main concern, but when it comes down to the music, if this album didn’t prove to you that he’s exceedingly talented, then I really don’t know what to tell you. It’s an album that’s a coming of age, an album from a young artist who realized that he had some growing up to do, but he knows that there’s much more to come with that. There’s also a lot of talk that the 3 albums (Bastard, Goblin, Wolf) are a story that intertwine between each other, and also the song Sam (Is Dead) comes into play. Tyler is naturally creative, and he’s definitely in a thought process zone beyond most, so it’s really cool that this album makes you have to go back and listen to everything else he’s done, just so you can track and say “oh, that’s what he meant.” It’s artists like that, whom are outspoken and are limitless with creativity, that should be praised (although he’s not all that praised by many). If you had a friend that never heard of Tyler, The Creator, this would probably be the first album I let them listen to before anything else, because it’s personal, not as edgy, and it settles the listener into what else he can offer as an artist. Production wise, it’s his best work, lyrically, it’s right behind Bastard, but I wouldn’t be going too far off the handle to suggest that this album is his best. It’s a great piece of work that’s definitely worth the purchase. This is just me – my opinion with my review, but for now

Stream Album Here

That’s My Word & It STiXX

One thought on “Tyler, The Creator – WOLF – The STiXXclusive Review

  1. ayy this shit is seems cool as fuck i might have to listen to all his shit damn man he kinda of like me except all more personality are pretty much the same dude. well anyway i like this review. im about to bump tyler’s music and start my own group.

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