It shouldn’t come to much of a surprise when new albums are announced, although the common repeated term ‘surprise album’ will be used more commonly for presumably the rest of the decade and onward. It’s a good time to be a Hip Hop fan right now, especially this year, because it’s as if each project, one after the other, has a common theme of substance and quality with their work (some more than others, but they all carry a purpose). Tyler, The Creator is the founder of Odd Future, and he has been wrapped and engulfed in controversy since its inception. The punk-rock, anti-establishment sonic wave that comes with their music, caused backlash from various groups, activists, parents, and even Black people, surprisingly enough. There’s no box that you could have placed the collective group 3 or 4 years ago, and where the individuals of the group have grown up and found their own lanes of pursuit, Tyler was and is still that same passionate and outlandish figure that has been consistent with doing so since his first album, Bastard.
The evolution of his personality is a unique one because it’s such an unorthodox route that he’s taken, but it’s one that has been seen before in the realms of Hip Hop from an entrepreneurial standpoint. He has his own business, he directs his own videos, he produces his own music, and writes his own music, and he explores with different sounds that stretch from alternative rock unknowns to most, to the modern Hip Hop moguls that many are very familiarized with on a mainstream level. He doesn’t shy away from his extensive knowledge of music on various platforms, and that’s what gives off a lot of different vibes to his music. He’s really talented, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t get recognized for it because of the harsh content that stirs around in his music – that should be irrelevant.
When Cherry Bomb came to light, there were really rumours floating around that Tyler would be dropping an album, but the title was wrong and the tracklist was fake, so I thought nothing of it. Then Tyler tweets out a link to his GOLF Media app (genius idea), drops a pre-order link which brings about 2 new songs, and then releases the video from his app. The rules have definitely changed, and it’s becoming a more direct-to-user world that we’re living in, an thus the need for extensive promo for a strenuous amount of time has really become obsolete. The time is now, and the people want the product in a shorter time frame from when it’s announced. It’s crazy, but it’s exciting – something to get used to.
One of the two songs that was released with the pre-orders was DEATHCAMP, and I definitely wasn’t the only one who noticed, but it was a strong sonic nod towards one of his musical inspirations, N.E.R.D. The track was loud like it was intended for a rock album and not so much a Hip Hop album, but being that Tyler was the well-rounded musical listener that he is, it was anything goes in his case. The music was really overpowering, and (just to make it clear now) it would be a common thing to occur throughout the album. The theme of camp which was the theme of his previous album, would be continued here, but obviously in a different tone & setting. In terms of setting a tone of what the album was to sound like, clearly it was going to be a lot different from what we’ve heard before from Tyler.
At the beginning of BUFFALO, I thought the beat for Pusha T’s Numbers On The Board because of the vocal sample at the beginning, but although it wasn’t the same beat, it was as Kevin Hart once famously said “real rap raw”. Tyler took the opportunity to name drop a few (which he doesn’t shy away from) and address some things which he usually does in his tweets. His brief stint with Mountain Dew, the eerie obsession that Hopsin had with him in a non-beef, discontinuing his wearing of Supreme, and his dislike of people who obsess over Snapchat & Instagram were just a few things that he addressed amongst many.
“How many leaders in the house?
Well can somebody bring the mirrors out? I’m getting lonely
Likes and apologies and snaps make it obvious
That everybody on this fucking planet lackin’ confidence”
Tyler is someone who sees himself as a voice that constantly encourages kids to go after their dreams, and is very adamant about those same kids to go outside and have fun (much like the generation that we shared growing up in – which was much more outdoorsy). It’s short, but to the point. It’s a statement that’s being made and for straight up rapping, it’s very good.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like this album as much as I wanted to because of the drastic distortion of the music. If I find the time to do so, I’m pretty sure that I would try to EQ every song so that I’d get a relatively listenable sound for my ears that wouldn’t stress me. PILOT is yet another example of that music that is overpowering and filled with a cluttered sound although the song itself is pretty good. The comparisons that many people draw when it comes to flying is that their on a personal high, whether it be by drug, or simply by the successes that they are experiencing. Sometimes those highs may not feel as well as they should, which is why Tyler says that he feels like he’s in Coach class in an airplane although he’s the one flying his own plane. Sometimes it’s hard being at the top, or it’s just rocky with all of the issues come along with success (Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems will always be relevant). Because he has success, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t carry issues from his past (besides his father, which was a frequent topic for him since his musical inception). RUN is a small interlude that he claimed was based on the friends that he had that turned to the life of crime and gang-banging (he had a Q&A on Twitter where he answered most questions), but again, sound issues. Hard to concentrate on lyrics when they’re not fully coherent. This is the way Tyler wanted his music – loud, overpowering and straight up raging. It’s not great for the average Hip Hop consumer, but FIND YOUR WINGS provides a change-up towards a more jazzy feel that was evident in WOLF, and also in The Internet’s music (if you’ve ever heard it before). Relating to the subject on PILOT, it’s about separating yourself from others and being a free individual who can fly on their own terms without having to conform to the same image that people thirst for in life, which also nods to the friends he’s talking to who are involved int he gang culture, to be their own person and not have to have a common mindset that will take them nowhere. Good messaging that I think people won’t appreciate.
“Hey you, whatcha doin’ and why you runnin’?
Supposed to fly and take control cause you’re the pilot
You can’t swim, you’re gonna drown, the sharks are comin’
The sky’s your home, there’s no limit, you know you gotta
Find your wings”
When the title track, CHERRY BOMB started, I felt like my earphones were going to pop out of my head because it was just way too much for me. There’s a certain type of rock that I like: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Queen – that older rock. The heavy metal influence or 80s punk, I never got into that, but my God it was strong. The instruments were all over and as the different elements came to life, had it been mixed well enough, there’s no doubt I would have enjoyed it more, but I couldn’t be bothered with the noise. I was getting annoyed, really. And that takes a lot.
It wouldn’t be a Tyler album if there wasn’t a song that was revolved around a girl at some point (foreshadowing). BLOW MY LOAD (yes, it is as vulgar as you’re thinking), you hear elements from past songs like She, Analog, VCR Wheels, and even Sarah. The 2nd half of the song brings in the funk and Syd’s hypnotic voice turns it into a mellow vibe that she’s known for bringing into her own music. It was great for her to close it off in that way as it segued into 2SEATER, since the setting of the album at this point was based in Tyler’s car. Everything is cinematic when it comes to Tyler’s projects, and I think that’s the best thing, artistically, that he brings to the table, which I appreciate. 2SEATER is on the smoother side as well, as he did a great job playing A&R as well in recruiting some strong vocals to contribute to the atmosphere that he was creating. This is one of the better songs on the album because of the overall composition from start to finish (the saxophone? Magnificent).
The full title for THE BROWN STAINS is unnecessarily long, so it’ll just be referred to as that. It’s back to the rappity-rap with an overly aggressive beat that takes full command for the duration of the song. Everything was alright until ScHoolboy Q’s verse which was dominated by the beat so much that you could barely hear it (it wasn’t anything memorable anyways). It wasn’t a song that I was compelled to hearing over and over again, and that was pretty disappointing, but on to the next as always, and the ‘next’ was the 2nd song which was released with the pre-orders, and accompanied with a video. FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT is a cute song, but a smooth one. I can’t say that I relate because I haven’t had that encounter in which I’ve found myself attracted to someone less than 5 or more years younger than me, because (for me at least) that would be pretty weird. It’s one that you can two-step to thanks to the masterful vocals of Charlie Wilson and that overall old school vibe that it carries with that distinctive Tyler sound, of course. When it transitions to ‘Perfect’, the voice of Kali Uchis (whom I hadn’t heard of until this song) made the whole song for me. The beat itself was one thing, but her vocals just fit like Coco O (from Quadron) on Treehome/95 (from WOLF). I like how Tyler puts on artists that he likes and not necessarily those who are already established (although that would soon change as you continue to listen). It’ll take a while to really get into F’ing Young more than it will for Perfect, but it’s a good piece of music regardless, sound wise. Storyline might weird folks out who are a little older, but it’s cute, but then again Aaliyah (RIP) did say that Age was nothing but a number, right?
When the album leaked, a photo appeared online that revealed that Kanye West & Lil Wayne were on a song together with Tyler. That immediately created a massive buzz, and here we are with SMUCKERS (yes, like the brand of Jelly & Jam) and honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a refreshing throwback of (at least) 10 years prior when they were both in a great time of their careers for rapping. They have since went in sonically different directions, not exactly the best of their abilities, but their longevity is apparent. For them to have the respect for Tyler’s music, I felt that it was really dope for them to hop on this track and lay down some bars, for the sake of rap fans and to contribute to the quality of the genre this calendar year.
“Richer than white people with black kids
Scarier than black people with ideas
Nobody can tell me where I’m headin’
But I feel like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen at my wedding
They say I’m crazy but that’s the best thing going for me
You can’t Lynch Marshawn, and Tom Brady throwin’ to me” – Kanye
“My trigger finger wise but my nine dumb
Middle finger blind so its fuck A-N-Y one
Fuck, skate and die son, a hundred ways to die son
I’m starin’ at a tramp on lean, make my eye jump” – Wayne
The best part of this song, you can pick and choose: it’s either Tyler’s 1st verse of his last, Kanye’s verse, or the back-and-forth exchanges that Wayne & Tyler have, which warmed my heart as a Hip Hop fan. You don’t get the back and forth often (we got it with Kanye & Big Sean on All Your Fault), and when it’s done with efficiency and solid execution, it’s memorable. In this case, it’s definitely memorable. Hands down it’s one of the most popular songs on the album, and as for a Tyler song itself, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t one of his best songs in his extensive catalogue.
There’s always that one song on Tyler’s albums that has that ignorant trap-style sound that is simply for the turn up purpose. KEEP DA O’S is that song here, where on previous albums it was Trashwang (WOLF) , Bitch Suck Dick (Goblin), and Tina (Bastard). The difference here is that the song splits up and turns into a more subdued and mellow vibe until finishing off with its original trap snares & gloomy synths, which he’s been recognized for throughout his makings of Odd Future’s music. His growth as a music creator in terms of orchestrating multiple beats and throwing them all over the place, shows his dedication to the craft in which he wishes to pursuit as a longterm thing – just to create, and he took this album to create the music that he truly wanted to create, using his influences and also his vivid imagination to bring to life.
He’s not the best singer (okay, seriously he’s bad and he knows it), but the first half of OKAGA, CA he does make an effort to harmonize and create a smooth entrance out of the album although his vocals may be shaky. Often times, what’s the craziest thing about Tyler’s albums is that the best songs are often the last songs, because that’s where he takes the time out to talk about what he’s going through as he wraps up the album. There’s sometimes a cliffhanger, but what you take away from that is a little something more personal in terms of his psyche and what he’s going through. From Inglorious, Golden, Lone, and now Okaga, it’s a transformation from adolescent dealing with tasting success but hanging on to growing pains, to a young man with more responsibilities and a seemingly clearer outlook on life now that he’s had more life experience being someone in the limelight as much as he doesn’t necessarily like to be in it.
I’m conflicted with this album because of the overall sound of how it was mixed. That part, I’m not a fan of. The rock influence that is his personal taste in which he made sure to utilize on the album, it was alright but I didn’t care for it much, and although there were songs that I did like, I wouldn’t listen to it in full on a repetitive basis (at least not in my headphones) because I definitely don’t sit with the off and on quality of the mixing. What I do appreciate about this album is that there’s a great deal of risk that was taken, musically. The different elements, the features, and the layout in general is what music’s all about. It’s about exploring different options, testing things out and expanding outside of the box with your creativity. Tyler has always done that, and this is just another example. Although it doesn’t necessarily make it better than previous albums, it’s still a lot better than what most artists will put out this year, I can assure that much. If you don’t want to buy it, stream it. It’s worth that much. I bought it on iTunes, just because, but I’m not pushing in that position that it is a must buy. It’s just one more piece of the ominous puzzle to add to Tyler the Creator’s imaginative career. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX