Tyler, the Creator, Flower Boy | Album Review
Tyler, the Creator returns with his fourth studio album, ‘Flower Boy.’ Arguably, ‘Flower Boy’ is the rapper’s best work to date.
Tyler, the Creator has made a name for himself as one of the most polarizing musicians of recent times. Arguably, the best way to take the rapper/producer is with a “grain of salt.” Why? He is one of the rawest in the game, always offending somebody. Even with his penchant for controversy, he is quite talented and has dropped some good albums. His fourth studio album, Scum F*ck Flower Boy is arguably his crowning achievement.
“Foreword” sets the tone of Flower Boy. Expectedly, Tyler, the Creator delivers blunt rhymes, which he paints over jazz-influenced, underground hip-hop production work. Rex Orange County provides the sung vocals, showcasing his unique style. “Where This Flower Blooms” finds Tyler assisted by a familiar voice: Frank Ocean. As always, the production is top-notch, particularly the hard-hitting drums on the memorable bridge: “I glow / I rock, I roll, I bloom, I glow.” The premise of “Where This Flower Blooms” is about his come-up – he’s bloomed.
Lush interlude “Sometimes…” precedes the soulful “See You Again.” Those smooth vocals on the first verse are Tyler, the Creator singing. The vibe is fitting. He also gets an assist from Kali Uchis on the chorus, where he also sings. It’s not all singing from the MC, who drops a verse of bars as well. Even with the anchoring hard drums, there’s a softer vibe here than we’re accustomed to hearing from TTC. It’s a good look all in all.
“Who Dat Boy”
“Who Dat Boy” returns to tough Tyler – this would be the scum f*ck. After eerie, malicious production, he jumps right into unapologetic rhymes. He wants to ensure that everybody knows exactly who he is. He’s on autopilot. He gets help though, courtesy of A$AP Rocky, who kills the second verse. Upping the ante, they join forces on the final verse. Chock full of twisted, cocky, and confident rhymes, “Who Dat Boy” concludes fittingly.
Jaden Smith joins the action on “Pothole,” dropping the hook. Another hot one, the production is smooth (save for the drums). Even so, Tyler, the Creator drops some nimble rhymes that perfectly complement the jazz-soul backdrop. Essentially, he’s not about to let bumps in the road – potholes – hold him back or divert him from a successful path. A gem.
Estelle (“American Boy”) guests on “Garden Shed,” another musical showcase. This slow jam serves as the source suggesting Tyler, the Creator is coming out. On the chorus, even Estelle provides potential imagery that hints at this:
“Don’t kill a rose / Before it could bloom / Fly, baby, fly / Out the cocoon.”
Then, of course, Tyler seems to address his sexuality himself, without explicitly saying so.
“Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase / Thought it’d be like the phrase; ‘poof,’ gone / But it’s still goin’ on.”
I TRIED TO COME OUT THE DAMN CLOSET LIKE FOUR DAYS AGO AND NO ONE CARED HAHAHHAHAHA
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) April 13, 2015
Aside from production duties, Rex Orange County, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Anna of the North handle vocal duties at the beginning of “Boredom.” The bulk of the vocals are handled by Rex Orange County. Over the course of an intro, hook, and verse, they set up boredom as a contradiction: “Find some time / Find some time to do something.” Tyler, the Creator finally enters the fold on the second verse, getting down to business as usual. He is, indeed bored, by his own admission. Eventually, Tyler, joined by the supporting cast close things out. It’s no rush, as the jazzy, lush, production work isn’t shortchanged over the five-and-a-half-minute duration.
“I Ain’t Got Time!” is one of the catchiest and fiercest songs of the rapper’s career. Fittingly, it follows “Boredom,” which features repetition of the word time at the end. If it seemed like Tyler, the Creator had lost his edginess with “Garden Shed” and “Boredom,” it returns full-fledged on “I Ain’t Got Time!” The production is superb, while T is clearly on autopilot. Still, there’s an unexpected lyric that raises eyebrows and not because of its toughness:
“Next line will have them like ‘whoa’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004.”
Two-part song “911 / Mr. Lonely” has a lot going on. “911” ends up being smoother than “Mr. Lonely.” He’s assisted by Steve Lacy, Ann of the North, Syd, and Frank Ocean on “911,” yet, remains the star. On the first verse in particular, he delivers some killer pop culture references and wordplay. “Mr. Lonely” goes harder, with different friends assisting him on the intro – A$AP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q. He characterizes himself, following the intro.
“They say the loudest in the room is weak / That’s what they assume, but I disagree / I say the loudest in the room / Is prolly the loneliest one in the room (that’s me).”
This is certainly deeper than what we usually hear from Tyler for sure.
The worst thing about “Droppin’ Seeds” is that it only lasts one minute! Once again, Tyler, the Creator gets Lil Wayne to rap over a jazzy backdrop. The results are nothing short of awesome. The seeds just needed to last longer. Fortunately, another interesting record follows with the “November.” On the first verse, Tyler asks a number of ‘what if’ questions and seems to be self-conscious at times. Before his second verse, there is an interlude which features a number of people describing their November or what occurred in the month of November. On the second verse, he writes a song to a lover.
Penultimate record “Glitter” is all about love.
“You light my firework, I feel like glitter / And every time you come around, I feel like glitter / You’re the one that I needed in my life / You’re the one that I need to give my time.”
What’s admirable about “Glitter” is how it connects with other aspects and songs from Flower Boy. Interestingly, the second verse features pitch-shifted vocals from Tyler. The radiant, “Enjoy Right Now, Today” concludes Flower Boy. Mostly instrumental, it does include vocals by Pharrell Williams. Talk about star-studded.
So, how does Flower Boy stack up? By far, this is the best album that Tyler, the Creator has released. That’s high praise considering his discography, but it feels like the unapologetic rapper has allowed himself to dig deeper. He never misses the mark.
Gems: “Who Dat Boy,” “Pothole,” “Garden Shed,” “Boredom,” “I Ain’t Got Time!” & “911 / Mr. Lonely,”