Review Summary: Maturing.
The artist in question has always been an enigma. Where Tyler, The Creator, a hubristic personification of rape jokes, drug abuse and ultra-violence ends and where Tyler Okonma, a twenty one year old with a flawed upbringing and the insecurities that involves, begins is a frequently blurred line. Where Wolf
most prevalently differs from predecessor, Goblin
, is in the ratio of these two personas. Tyler frequently exposes a more raw, vulnerable edge to his personality on this album, opens wounds which haven't been seen since Bastard
, and the result is a far more personable, composed work, slowly stripping itself of the infamous gimmicks in favour of sincerity.
This isn't to say, however, that the “kill people, burn ***, *** school”, affable exuberance of old is entirely absent. Tyler is still quintessentially, well, Tyler on tracks like “Domo 23” and “Trashwang”, berzerk, furious beats underlay that trademark, zany delivery of tales of the crew and their various underhanded wishes and exploits. Fans of old will appreciate the retained identity, and there's still something unmistakeably charming about the nonsensical affair, but, surrounded by so many personal, honest tracks, one is forced to wonder what made them necessary in the first place.
True stylistic progression, however, can be seen in the sincerer, more internally inquisitive tracks. “Answer” sees Tyler once again hypothetically confront his father over the top of a contrasting, meandering scale. Tyler's persona shifts with the flick of a switch, and the juxtaposing, calm delivery belies the uncomfortable, deep seated issues one finds by scratching the surface. “Ifhy”, a disjointed piece regarding an anonymous love interest, parodies and twists the typical romantic serenade. This is the man himself talking to you, not AceTronCatGolfWangWolfKillAPoodle, and the resulting honest and unsettling delivery strikes a far deeper chord because of it.
”I ***ing hate you, but I love you,
I'm bad at keeping my emotions bubbled,
You're good at being perfect”.
But then, seemingly out of nowhere, we see something as incredibly executed as “Colossus”. Odd Future as a whole have always been an intensely self aware group in their actions, but Tyler has never particularly, as an individual, validated his new found fame and success. “Colossus” changes all of this however, as it launches an intensely direct, sprawling rant against his following and how life's changes affect him on the other side of the looking glass, accompanied only by sparse synths and piano chords. Tyler needs
you to focus on the lyrics here, because he is addressing you, the audience, as a collective.
really is, then, is a gradual transition. Tyler is still, very much, a young man, who's life has undergone seismic shifts as a result of his own successes, and his attention is subsequently pulled in all directions. In abandoning his borderline schizophrenic lyricisms and the antics of his entourage, would he be abandoning his identity, what made him recognisable and popular to begin with? How does one address festering insecurities, brag about fame and stay true to what you once were simultaneously? Well advised or not, Tyler takes everything on at once here and does, for the most part, a remarkably good job of it.