Review Summary: As thematically depressing as it is technically impressing.
Peer pressure is an exceptionally powerful method of persuasion. Back in late August, a handful of members from the Sputnik community started hyping Odd Future, and that hype recently culminated into a sort of collective cult fanboy-ism with the release of Mellowhype’s second album. But various independent Sputnik users aren’t the only ones repping the up-and-coming SoCal collective, their internet volatility is exponentially increasing as the downloads build up and the hours pass, and they’re due to explode
. So, I said to myself ‘f*ck it, let’s jump on this bandwagon,’ and what a great decision that was. Even though I had to rummage about the internet for a link that didn’t 404, it was so worth it. But the further I delved into Tyler’s grisly narratives and witty wordplay, the more I realized the blogosphere was wrong about both he and his crew. He himself has been dubbed the modern “reincarnation of ’98 Eminem”, his little brother Earl Sweatshirt as a “horrorcore revivalist” and his gang as the next Wu-Tang Clan, but those tags are far from accurate. He even vehemently (and profanely) addressed – in all caps – bloggers labeling Odd Future as horrorcore on the group’s Tumblr. Truthfully, it’s inadvisable to label the members of Odd Future as incarnations of last-gen contemporaries. But just to satiate you guys, if GZA was a /b/-tard skate rat from L.A., he’d be Tyler, The Creator.
Truth be told, Bastard
is far from accessible. But it’s also far from horrorcore. That would imply it aims (read, shoots from the hip) at shock and misses, merely achieving uncouth triteness. No. Although it’s rooted heavily in cultural transgression, it’s a superbly intelligent effort. Tyler’s affinity for profanity, extreme asocialism and perversion, and feverish, often violent angst, while interesting, belie just how f*cking smart the dude really is. On the sprawling title track, he recounts going from “AP to Jay-Z inside a f*cking week.” Later on in the album, he confesses to flunking out of Honors classes because he cared too much about being cool. Tyler wasn’t born a psycho; he was dejected; made an outcast. That is, until he started doing drugs and acting out. Point is, Tyler has a reason to be an immoral social mutant. No violent sentiment is blindly made. No spiteful remark unjust. No biastophiliac narrative without context. All his tormented musings, sadistic actions and cursing barks are backed by not only sociological perspective – as the therapy session album concept should suggest – but masterful lyrical devices. Similes, metaphors, double-entendres, analogies, pop culture references, and internal rhymes thickly populate Tyler’s unique and sinister stream-of-consciousness/demonized confessional hybrid. Yet, despite its (purported) validity, no topic is too taboo or too unfortunate to happen to Tyler or be mentally covered by him. Suicide, depression, necrophilia, patricide, immense homophobia, rape, illicit substance abuse, assault, public disturbance, and vandalism are all oft-explored concepts in the mind and times of Tyler, The Creator, and he does his best (and ultimately succeeds) in making it a gloomy, grayscale musical caricature of his f*cked up life, and his voice is the icing on the cake. Despite, or perhaps due to, its apathetic tone, his raspy, gravelly snarl is an impeccably emotive mechanism for his disturbed psyche.
Although I cautioned against labeling him, it’s impossible not to remark on the evident Neptunes influence both in the music and on the blog. A self-admitted fan of the hit-producing superduo, Tyler, The Creator derives much of his sound from The Neptunes, butbecause he operates on his own budget, it isn’t as complex and the sound quality isn’t as good. He crafts lo-fi soundscapes consisting of simplistically punchy, downtempo drums, whining and grating synth riffs, sharp string notes and murky piano loops. The title track is an extremely minimalistic beat with only minor chord piano keys, save the intermittent sharp string line, dismally dragging on. It succeeds as it deflects attention onto Tyler’s depressing professions and serves as a tool for him to use his voice as an instrument in its own right. “Tina” is the most complex track with four different synth lines interchanging and tempo alternating drums.
is an excellent, even awing, debut effort, but I have a feeling Tyler’s potential is yet to be fully realized. Wolf
is due this last quarter of 2010, and there should be an advancement of his skill as well as his ‘vision’ and concept on the album. We’ll just have to wait and see. But for now…god DAMN
this is a great start.