Review Summary: Proving it's never too late to grow up
Tyler the creator, a man more widely known for teaching the adolescent white kids of the world how to swear, rather than for his artistic contributions. Even the UK home office became aware of his vulgarity last year, with the then head, Theresa May, banning the “Yonkers” rapper from the country, over the pregnant threesome he depicted on the infamous song, “Tron Cat”. The fact that many still hold this opinion is testament to Tyler’s refusal to grow up; despite ditching the pregnant dogs and sexual mutation back on 2013’s Wolf. But with new (and perhaps ill-titled) album, Scum *** Flower Boy, Tyler has finally reached his coming of age, delivering his most mature, emotive, and consistent album yet.
It’s no secret that Tyler has been treading water with his lyrical content, often resorting to the same “f**k the world” routine, and recycling the same raps about his runaway father. Every time Tyler lets us into other parts of his life, it often results in meaningless scenarios, whether it be awkward theme park encounters (“Colossus”), or underage love conundrums (“Perfect/F*****g Young”). However, Tyler breaks the cycle with Flower boy, by delivering an album that pulsates with introspection, centring on the adversities that have taken seed in Tyler’s life as an established rap star: loneliness, failed romance, and materialistic disillusionment. On “Boredom”, Tyler details every aspect that makes him lonely, desperate for someone to relieve him from the monotony. “See you again” has Tyler pining for the one he loves over an 808 doused beat, also being aware that his feelings may not be reciprocated. Standout track “November” is probably the most penetrative of Tyler’s mental state, a track cracking at the seams with anxieties of betrayal, his artistic legitimacy, and financial stability; some of which sound like complete delusions. The only time Flower boy derails is on Lil Wayne assisted track, “Droppin’ seeds”, which cuts off after a minute before it develops into anything, feeling as if it was hastily added, just to slap the Weezy name on the tracklist.
Tyler’s bars have also seen a tune up, and that’s discounting the abandonment of his favourite word f****t. Throughout Flower Boy, Tyler often constructs his lyrics around metaphors, a skill he demonstrated on recent Frank Ocean single, “Biking”. For example, on intro track “Foreword”, Tyler employs a lyrical structure of diverse metaphors that develop into one another, encapsulating the overall tone of the album perfectly. Most notably, are the car themes that linger throughout, perhaps reflecting the now unwelcome dominance of materialism in his life. This is summed up on “911/Mr. Lonely”, with the sombre but humorous line - “I know you sick of me talkin’ bout cars but what the f**k else do you want from me? That is the only thing keeping me company”.
The production on Flower Boy is similar to that of 2015 album Cherry bomb; drawing from Tyler’s spectrum of soul, jazz, and dream pop influences. However, unlike on inconsistent, messy, and industrial noise drenched Cherry bomb, the different layers of instrumentation here mesh together harmoniously; containing only a few awkward beat transitions. Of course, Tyler’s trademark off-key synths are also present, but before where they sounded brash, often dominating the melody in an ugly fashion, they instead compliment the overall sound with luscious subtlety. Tyler’s confidence as a composer shines through with the addition of instrumental closing track, “Enjoy Right Now, Today”. Although not mind-blowing, it will be interesting to see whether Tyler explores the possibility of more instrumental projects in the future.
Tyler should be proud with what he’s created with Flower Boy. Not only has he delivered an album that solidifies him as a modern hip-hop great, but he has proved that he can bring more to the table than puerile ramblings, hopefully encouraging previous naysayers to regard his future projects with a more open mind. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see ol’ Theresa donning a Golf Wang shirt.
Best tracks – November, 911/Mr. Lonely, See You Again, Boredom
Worst tracks – I Ain’t Got Time, Droppin’ Seeds