Tyler, the Creator – WOLF album review

On the first listening of Tyler, the Creator’s third studio album Wolf, the image that immediately comes to mind is Eminem. Specifically his first three albums that delivered controversy and a one-way ticket to fame. You start to question if these two actually feel the emotions of violence that they rap about or if it’s just a gimmick to push headlines and record sales. In Tyler, the Creator’s case, one would assume it’s a little bit of both.

Wolf plays out as an open therapy session starting with his ill feelings towards his biological father (“Answer”) to his difficulty of dealing with his fame (“Colossus”), right down to his failure of dealing with his Grandmother’s death at Cedar Senai Hospital (“Lone”). One of the more interesting tracks on Wolf, “IFHY”, stands out from the rest of tracks. As “IFHY” draws towards the end, we hear a familiar voice chime in, Pharrell Williams, much like Frank Ocean’s voice of albums past. Pharrell, not only adds one of the best voices in popular music, but immediately adds a level of art to Tyler’s effort.

If there is one theme of Wolf, it’s the production value, and “IFHY” is a perfect example. Tyler has even shot a critically-acclaimed video for “IFHY” that Kanye West has featured as the only content available of his self-titled website for over two weeks now. It is important to note, the first single off the album, “Domo 23”, is relatively insignificant to the direction of album, as it represents the Tyler of the past.

The parallels to Eminem, however, just can’t be ignored after listening to this album for the past week. The two songs that begs for the comparison is “Answer” and “Colossus”. “Answer” reads out as a hate letter to Tyler’s estranged father in the vein of Eminem’s “Cleaning Out My Closet”. Of course Eminem’s effort had a catching title and heavy radio rotation, but Tyler’s anger and resentment towards a parent is the similarity. Both Eminem and Tyler’s anger seem to come from the same place. Both have anger, but not from the lack of love, it’s the lack of care. “Colossus”, on the other hand, is Tyler’s “The Way I am” meets “Stan”. The song reenacts a visit to a Six Flags theme park, where he can not do simple things such as riding a roller coaster or buying a churro without being bothered by a fan to take a picture or a sign an autograph. The image that immediately popped into my head was Eminem getting disturbed by a fan while using the bathroom in the video for “The Way I Am”. “Colossus” takes a turn for “Stan” when the fan, who detours Tyler from buying a churro, goes into a detailed story of obsession and homosexual thoughts for Tyler and his music. It’s clear that Tyler, who regularly hangs out at his Melrose clothing store in Los Angeles, just can’t get used to his fame, a source of shame for him.

Although, as promised by Tyler, the production value of Wolf has dramatically increased in his junior album, he’s still yet to deliver much commercial attachment, beside his ever-expanding cult-like fan base. After multiple listenings of Wolf, it becomes clear, however, Tyler simply does not care. Wolf is most definitely Tyler’s best work and it’s not just the aforementioned production value that most critics and fans have been praising. Wolf represents an understanding by Tyler, the Creator of how to structure a verse, a song, and string them together as an album. Almost of all of his songs have a cohesive tone and structured meaning. Tyler’s raps seem to have taken a step forward from the scattered brain ramblings of verses past, where he tried to unleash everything in his mind into one verse or one rhyme. Those ramblings have separated into songs and formed his third studio album, WOLF!


Tyler, the Creator – Goblin album review

Tyler, the Creator is like the Quentin Tarantino of alternative hip hop; he addresses issues that will make you squirm, sometimes allowing a small opening for comic relief, before sending you back into a world of darkness that may leave you cynical and helpless. His words are not for the weak; he takes time throughout his latest album, Goblin, to explain he’s young, that this is fiction and that anyone who takes it seriously should be dismissed, ridiculed or murdered. This is the complex world of Tyler, the Creator; a world where his dark, unapologetic delivery may lead you to succumb to its bidding, testing your strength, in hopes that through all of the darkness, you will find the creative beauty at the end of the tunnel.

Goblin continues where Tyler’s first album, Bastard, left off. Dr. TC, Tyler’s fictional therapist, attempts to help Tyler battle against his Johnny Rotten-esque alter-ego, Wolf Haley. It is obvious that Tyler is heavily influenced by the Neptunes; piano-driven chord progressions, Tyler gives a head-nod to Pharrell, but still adds the minimal, spacey swooshes that will make you cringe. “Goblin” is an example of this; combine this with self-reflective lyrics and you get a great track that introduces you to Tyler.

“Yonkers,” the first single off of the album, shines on its own; you will be listening to this track over and over again, trying to catch Tyler’s creative wordplay as he battles against Wolf Haley. “I’m a f****n’ walkin’ paradox (no I’m not), threesomes with an f****n’ triceratops,” begins Tyler on “Yonkers.” In a matter of two minutes Tyler manages to offend religious followers, Hayley William fans, and threatens to “stab Bruno Mars in his esophagus.” If you’re still listening you’ve made it through two-fifteenths of the album. But be forewarned; it gets darker.

“Radical” is a combination of the skateboard culture Tyler was raised in, along with Seeing Sounds-esque synths and drums. The bridge parts sound like they could easily be replicated in a Neptune’s track. It is a melodic remedy that contrasts against the overall griminess of the song. Obviously a track that stands out more live because of its heaviness, “Radical” is still a well-produced track.

“Nightmare” is a fitting title for this song; bubbly percussive hits, eerie sounds hidden in the background and piano progressions that move like a well-structured jazz tune, “Nightmare” is hauntingly beautiful. “Tron Cat” is similar to “Yonkers;” it stands out more so than the others, showing Tyler’s abilities to just deliver and deliver. “Said f**k coke, so now I’m snortin’ Hitler’s ashes,” says Tyler,among other things that will leave you wondering, “did he just say that,” as you hit the repeat button.

“Sandwitches” almost goes as hard as “Radical.” Hard snare hits, heavy, staccato synths and a massive delivery from Tyler and guest Hodgy Beats, makes this one infectious. “Analog” should be a nominee for 2011 hip hop love song, but the reverberated percussive hits, eerie laughing in the background (maybe from Outkast’s “She Lives in my Lap?”) and deep vocals, may not be the best song to arouse your significant other. “This is not Dawson’s Creek/ Could you meet me by the lake,” says Tyler. Strangely, it is one of the more happier sounding tracks on the album, but it still retains some darkness, as if it belongs in a Friday the 13th  movie.

“Window” brings the album back to the darkness; Tyler’s battle with Wolf Haley deepens, as “friends” Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats and Mike G contribute, before inevitably being ended by Tyler. “My window is a book, and I’m a f****n’ crook,” rhymes Tyler, as he  dives deeper into the abyss. Melancholic piano notes floating above heavy synths, “Window” is dark. No comic relief, no references that will produce any smiles, “Window” prepares you for the last part of the album: golden.

“Golden” is like the ending scene to a really good movie; it pieces the last remaining puzzle pieces together. Out of a mixture of choral sounds, hard-hitting snare hits and arguments between Dr. TC, the ultimate epiphany is realized by Tyler: that Tyler is Dr. TC. In Fight Club-esque fashion, Tyler ends “Golden” by revealing to us just how chaotic and perplexing his mind is.

“We don’t make horrorcore you f****n’ idiots. Listen deeper in the music before you put it in a box,” says Tyler. To simply label Tyler’s music as horrorcore, would be a foolish thing to do. His music is much deeper than that. He hits a sensitive area that has not been addressed since Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. Not to mention, Goblin is well-crafted; it is a concept album that sends the listener in every direction it can, and if you cannot stomach it, walk away. Tyler does want to be mainstream, and maybe it would be good to get some mainstream sound that cannot be easily digested. Tyler cannot be stopped, and any opposition that plans to bring him down better be ready, because it will not be easy.

Hate him or love him, Tyler, the Creator is making a name for himself. Kanye West called the “Yonkers” music video the best of 2011; Tyler has performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and he also performed at this year’s SXSW, held in Austin, TX. Tyler, the Creator is not your average hip hop; his shows are chaotic and reckless, bringing the roots of hardcore punk into his live shows with stage diving, energy and in-your-face vocal delivery. Goblin is a great album for both newcomers and dedicated fans alike. The album obviously has some lesser tracks; “Bitch Suck Dick” could have probably been left off, but the album, overall, is frighteningly good.

A good artist will sometimes push your buttons to see just how much you can handle. They will force you to take in every word and note from beginning to end, until you have had enough. They will not hold your hand, but rather watch over you, hoping that in the end you will see the masterpiece through their chaos. Tyler is that kind of artist, and it may take a few listens to realize that, but once the epiphany occurs, you will be hooked.