Tyler, The Creator has always been a stranger to me. I never understood the hype around him, mostly because I never understood what he wanted to make me feel when I did catch a few of his songs.
I got the sense that he was playing with sounds, and wanted the listener to weave themself into the fabric of the track. But instead of that happening, I was lost in a maze of instruments that confused me.
Don’t get me wrong, his production has always been fantastic, its the message that seems a little off.
And so I’m not sure why I decided to give Tyler, the Creator’s new album, IGOR a shot. Maybe it was the album cover, which was dominated by pink, or the 10th Instagram comment in a row that said: “this slaps bro.”
Coincidentally, I came across this image just before launching Spotify.
“Don’t go into this expecting a rap album..”
It’s a statement that’s almost never sincere. It’s a sentence artists use to defend themselves when they know they’ve put out something sub-par.
Dismissing the first impressions forming in my head, I clicked play and shut my eyes as I always do before I listen to the first song on an album.
What I heard wasn’t what I expected.
IGOR’S THEME (ft. Kali Uchis)
Practically synth porn, IGOR’S THEME is an instrumental that pushed me back to a Sunday evening where I felt empty about life. At the same time, it’s one that gave me hope about the coming days bringing change.
There are barely any words on this, mostly hums and chants of “I’m running, I’m running.” And I think I hear Lil Uzi at the beginning, but I’m not sure.
Is this is really not a rap album? I wondered as the next track hit me like an..
EARFQUAKE (ft. Dev Haynes, Playboi Carti, Charlie Wilson)
Tyler talks about a lover he hasn’t treated well, but someone he needs desperately. This is sung over cheery piano chords and distorted drums. I’m beginning to sense a theme of contrast on this album.
I was surprised to find Carti feature on this, he’s another artist I never understood, considering how he ad libs more than raps.
But the guy makes it work on this one. Every hol’ up is a piano chord, and every yuh blends into the beat as he raps about how he doesn’t give a fuck about anything except his love.
Every hol’ up is a piano chord, and every yuh blends into the beat as he raps about how he doesn’t give a fuck about anything except his love.
Again, this song pulls you in two different directions with its poppy music, but almost-too-real lyrics about miscommunication in a relationship.
I’m liking this so far…I think
I THINK (ft. Solange)
Tyler flexes his production muscles here with crisp quality and ear pleasing 80s synth-pop music. The lyrics get repetitive but the instrumental can serve as the background music to two carefree children running around in a wheat farm.
Tyler, the Creator tries to convey his feelings about someone he’s falling in love with but just doesn’t know how to tell them. He takes us on a journey where he wishes his crush would call him to eventually realising that it’s not just infatuation, but real love.
The song ends with him confessing, “this time it’s for real, fuck.”
I like this song, I enjoy the journey, and I especially love the beat switch that takes you by surprise.
Side note: Flow is identical to Kanye West’s Stronger.
RUNNING OUT OF TIME (Ft. FRANK OCEAN)
Frank Ocean gets me in my feelings, it’s to an extent that I only listen to him when I’m low, just to amplify the sadness. It’s fitting then, that the only time I’ve heard him in over a year is on an album that’s dedicated to the pains of love.
In this song, both Tyler and Ocean describe their fleeting relationship with a to-be ex, brooding about a relationship that has run its course.
Tyler sounds frustrated, and the synths follow his lead. At the halfway mark of this song, the instrumental becomes denser, mirroring Tyler’s frustration with his significant other.
I’m surprised how he’s managed to transform every instrument into a synth machine, it’s brilliant.
New Magic Wand (ft A$AP Rocky and Santigold)
I’ll be honest I struggled to understand this one on the first few listens.
“My brother said I'm on the spectrum/ Don't call me selfish, I ain't sharin'/
This 60-40 isn't workin'’
“I saw a photo, you looked joyous/ My eyes are green, I eat my veggies”
This track didn’t make much sense until I really focused on the lyrics, especially the chorus that tied it all together. This song has Tyler begging his lover not to leave, even though they’re still in love with their ex.
It’s almost like Tyler is afraid to bring the topic up until he finally breaks and threatens to kill both his beloved and his ex.
The beat is pretty grimy on this one and synths play a supporting role in the bridge.
I think this song could’ve been better, repetitive and misleading lyrics might make listening to it an effort.
A BOY IS A GUN
One of the softer cuts on the tracklist, this is a nice change of pace. It’s got a soul sample backing Tyler’s vocals. It’s about how his newfound infatuation has left him in limbo.
(You started with a mere hello)
You so motherfuckin' dangerous
You got me by my neck (A boy is a gun)
That's why these other niggas lame to us'
Cause all these other niggas lame as fuck
I find Tyler’s voice unique, and this is one of the few songs where he doesn’t submerge it in effects and voice changes.
PUPPET (Ft. Kanye West)
THANK YOU KANYE FOR APPEARING, VERY COOL.
Given the fact that Spotify does not list the features, I had no idea which track Kanye was on, so when the beat transitioned, I lost it. West’s rapping is not spectacular, as it sounds like something he would spit on the spot, but the beat more than makes up for it.
The track is about the balance between possessiveness and freedom in a relationship, mirrored by the instrumental, which cuts to the beat at the starting of the song midway.
I gotta say the production on Tyler The Creator’s IGOR is refined and sublime.
What’s Good’s beginning sounds exactly like the soundtrack to the murder mystery novel I’ve been reading. It’s intense, jarring, and psychotic.
This is the perfect workout song, it’s wind-y and twist-y and has a high BPM. There’s never a dull moment and the lyrics somehow fire you up.
Y'all said I wouldn't go nowhere, took the detour
When you see the someone in the crack right by the sea shore?
When you see them brand new le Fleurs on the floor?
If the cop says my name, bitch, I'm Igor
Plenty of hate, reminds me of the vibe he had on that song called Bastard.
GONE, GONE / THANK YOU
This song is a better ‘feels like summer.’
I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE
He’s done it again. Tyler, The Creator has managed to drown an electric guitar in synth and has made it work.
I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE is about Tyler finally getting over an intense infatuation. He’s finally done obsessing over them and moving on with his life towards an optimistic future.
I don’t quite like this song, it doesn’t make me feel positive or expect a happy ending, thus failing to fulfil its purpose.
It’s the only track where Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR fails to deliver.
ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?
The last song on the album is one of the best. It marks the end of IGOR’s saga. A story about falling in love, then out of it.
The track combines a funky beat, crooning guitar, and synths with soft singing throughout. It’s a great end to a great album. Tyler’s voice becomes deeper as the album progresses, possibly signifying how this is the start of a new chapter in his life.
At the beginning of IGOR, I mentioned that I didn’t understand what Tyler, The Creator wanted to make me feel. It’s clear with this one.
It’s why the theme and concept is a 10/10 for me.
Tyler wants you to feel the pain and constant turbulence of dealing with someone you love and want to love.
It transitions from him not knowing what to do with his new-found feelings, to unhealthily desiring this person, to getting over them.
It also alludes to his sexuality, with tracks like ‘boy is a gun’ and ‘running out of time’ pretty much confirming his orientation.
Sonically, this has the potential to be one of the biggest hits of the year. Production is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time.
The album sounds like the background track to an alien who has finally found true love.
Does that make sense? IGOR did for me, and now, so does Tyler, The Creator.
SUGGESTED READ: Dissecting ‘Believe,’ the Best Song on Eminem’s Revival.