When Tyler, the Creator first gained notoriety in the rap scene he became one of the most controversial figures it had seen for a long while. He saw sudden stardom with the release of the song ‘Yonkers’ which followed his acclaimed project ‘Bastard’. His breakout song, ‘Yonkers’, featured Tyler eating a cockroach and hanging himself whilst spititng lines such as “Jesus called, he said he sick of the disses/I told him to quit bitchin’, this isn’t a f**king Hotline” and as he was a teenager, this came as a shock to the mainstream rap audience. However, this approach that he and his collective, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), took led to an almost cult following amongst music fans.
The reason I’ve brought up Tyler’s musical past is just show how far he has come as an artist over the past six years and how much he has matured in both his lyrical content as well as his sound. Tyler takes creative control over the majority of music, taking care of production as well as the vocals, and each project has presented a clear representation of his current mind state. Scum F*ck, Flower Boy sees Tyler at a low point in his life, but as with many artists, it has led him to produce some of his best music.
It instantly clear from the opener, ‘Foreword’, that Tyler is taking a much more serious approach to this album and, as a foreword does in a book, it sets up the tone of the record. Tyler starts with car references that will appear in different parts of the album, but the end of the song sees Tyler explore the idea of suicide; discussing drowning in his own pool, and this depressed mind state and sense of loneliness is touched upon throughout this album.
The track ‘Pothole’ sees Tyler use car and driving references as a metaphor for avoiding obstacles and people that can’t be trusted, however some lines show how this has left him all alone: “…watching Clarence in a mansion with nobody in it”. This features a very chilled, jazzy instrumental as well as a smooth hook from none other than Jaden Smith, and was instantly one of my favourites on the album. The track ‘Boredom’ also discusses Tyler’s feelings of being isolated and his friends no longer contacting him. His desperation to get over this loneliness and reconnect with his friends is clear, and this is also touched on in the song ‘911/Mr. Lonely’ which is another one of my personal favourites. The instrumental switch up for the verses is superb and sees Tyler’s rapping sounding better than ever, plus the interpolation of The Gap Band classic ‘Outstanding’ fits perfectly.
Tyler seems to delve even deeper into his personal life on the track ‘Garden Shed’ which seems to point towards Tyler revealing he is in fact homosexual. You’ve probably already heard a lot about this as it became the main talking point of the album, and although he doesn’t directly say it, lines strongly suggest Tyler is coming out the closet on this track: “Truth is, since a youth kid, I thought it’d be just a phase; “poof” gone/ but it’s still going”. A lot of critics have questioned Tyler’s seriousness, due to his reputation as a troll or joker, however he does sound very sincere on this track and this would make him the first openly gay rapper in the limelight. This could potentially be ground-breaking and it will be interesting to see the reactions of the hip hop community. His issues with coming out is also displayed on the track November where he raps, “What if my music too weird for the masses? / And I’m only known for tweets more than beats or/All my day ones turn to three, fours ’cause of track seven”. He seems to be stating that he may lose friends due to ‘track seven’ which is Garden Shed.
‘November’ is also a highlight of album, where Tyler shows fears of no longer being relevant as well as reminiscing back to a time when he was happy; recalling some of his best memories throughout his music career. It’s another record that shows Tyler at a low point in his life, and wearing his emotions on his sleeve; making for another interesting insight into his current mindset.
However, the album is not just full of slow, melancholic music, it does have a more energetic side in the form of the track ‘Who dat boy’, which was the lead single and features a killer verse from A$AP Rocky. The track is absolute banger and is great display on Tyler’s diversity as a producer, with the bass heavy instrumental that will have your car vibrating uncontrollably. It also has an infectious hook that has remained in my head since he first dropped the track. ‘Ain’t Got Time’ also brings some energy to the LP, seeing Tyler produce anohter hook and be a bit more braggadocios about what he has accomplished through his music career.
Lastly, I must mention the features on this project. Tyler hasn’t featured many rappers on this project apart from a hook from Jaden Smith, A$AP Rocky and a stellar verse from Lil’ Wayne, who is given his own song: ‘Droppin’ Seeds’. For some reason, Tyler always manages to get the best out of Lil’ Wayne, as he also produced one of his best verses in a long time for the track ‘Smuckers’ which appeared on Tyler’s last album ‘Cherry Bomb’ and Lil Wayne brings that same quality to this project. The rest of the features on this project is made up of singers such as Frank Ocean, Rex Orange County, Estelle, Kali Uchis and more who all provide fantastic contributions to this project; adding to the soulful, jazzy sound of many of these tracks.
This record is an extremely personal display of Tyler’s current emotional state and is also very well put together. The production is beautiful throughout, but still carries that unique Tyler/Odd future sound, and Tyler’s use of vocals fits each track perfectly. Also, Tyler has drastically improved the way he raps on this project in both delivery and maturity of lyrics. It is honestly one of the top projects of the year and Tyler’s shows just what a great overall artist he is.
Album Rating: 8/10
Favourite Tracks: Pothole, Garden Shed, November, Who Dat Boy, Boredom, Foreword, 911/Mr. Lonely, Droppin’ Seeds, See You again