Is Tyler The Creator’s ‘Cherry Bomb’ Indeed a Bomb?
Tyler, the Creator is known for his unapologetic underground rap with jazz-infused hip-hop production backing him. Tyler is a controversial figure, like many rappers. His brash, unapologetic style is among the rawest in the game, particularly on sophomore album, Goblin. Still, despite skeptics and a poorly conceived Mountain Dew commercial, Tyler the Creator has a supportive fan base.
Fans purchased Cherry Bomb its first week, though the 51,000 copies sold was down considerably from Wolf. Wolf had entered the Billboard 200 Albums Chart selling 89,000 copies (no. 3). That’s 38,000 copies worth of erosion! To Cherry Bomb’s credit, it outperformed Goblin (no. 5, 45,000 copies). Still, after building some momentum with Wolf, it seemed like Cherry Bomb might have performed better than it did.
While many artists would love to sell 51,000 copies in week one, in Tyler’s case, it is an omen. After spending one week in the top 10, Cherry Bomb plummeted to no. 41 in its second week. Such a drop isn’t normal but matches a drop from underground rapper, Joey Bada$$. B4.Da.$$ slipped from no. 5 to no. 41. Perhaps it’s just an underground rap thing, but still, it seemed as if Tyler had constructed a bigger fan base.
Tyler the Creator’s plunge wouldn’t end at no. 41. The following week, week three, Cherry Bomb slipped to no. 62, another significant fall (21 spots). In week four, Tyler the Creator dropped it’s greatest from no. 62 to no. 139, a 77-spot loss. Clearly, for Tyler, “The Thrill is Gone.” So why has the impact and sales of Cherry Bomb been so lackadaisical?
There could be any number of factors. One factor is the surprise release of Cherry Bomb, which doesn’t allow for much promotion. This ‘surprise’ approach works best for artists like Beyoncé or D’Angelo. Tyler the Creator benefits better from traditional album promotion. Yes, Tyler had a single in “F*cking Young,” but it did little with little time to put Cherry Bomb over the top.
Another factor in the decline of Cherry Bomb could be the controversy surrounding the Mountain Dew commercial. Sure, hardcore fans will be able to brush the dirt of their shoulders and like Tyler just say “f*ck you” to Mountain Dew, but does everybody embrace that same spirit? Even as a personal fan of the MC, the Mountain Dew commercial was both questionable on the part of Mountain Dew and the rapper himself. That said, Mountain Dew also should’ve considered the artist they were working with as Tyler the Creator is not, um, “family friendly” in the least.
Finally, maybe people are tired or offended by Tyler the Creator’s overwrought, explicitness. We live in explicit times, hence why Bill O’Reilly blames hip-hop for the changing world (Christianity has declined, according to Pew Research). Believe it or not, sometimes you can be so explicit and brutally honest it turns folks off too.
Also, don’t listeners evolve? Yeah, college dudes enjoy tunes with f-bombs for a spell but after a while, might such rebelliousness take a step back as they mature? The same might be said of Tyler, the Creator. Maybe his explicitness and the appeal of it has worn off, particularly four albums in.
To Tyler’s credit – save for “Blow My Load” – much of Cherry Bomb does find a more mature MC. He’s not there yet mind you, but there’s definitely a gentler side in there somewhere. But this isn’t about the quality of the album so much as its impact.
Maybe Tyler needs to change perceptions of him or maybe he needs to “sell out” and produce a gargantuan single that still keeps him ‘underground’ but also adds to his wad of money. Those are all considerations for the MC, but for now, it would seem Cherry Bomb IS indeed a BOMB.