Tyler’s new album the Creator is delivered
Even after a decade, Tyler’s music, The Creator is still enigmatic. Consistently inconsistent in his approach and performance, Tyler has made a career out of keeping spectators on their toes and overturning conventions.
So fans had no idea if âLUMBERJACK,â released in mid-June with little warning, was a sign of things to come – or an anomaly produced by a guy who hates labels and boxes. Turns out it was the first one, like CALL ME IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF, released today (June 25), follows in the footsteps of his tribute to Gravediggaz with a first single.
Draped in raps and dizzying flow, the West Coast native’s latest project reminds the world that hip-hop’s greatest trickster is really good at this rap thing, despite his Big Loki Energy. Through his alter ego, Tyler Baudelaire, he produced what could well be the best hip-hop album of the year.
CALL ME IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF can be divided into two halves. The first half, starring DJ Drama, is imbued with the energy of one of the famous Gangsta Grillz mixes. There is a certain quality and tone associated with the Philadelphia DJ, and Tyler delivers on all fronts. The Ladera Heights native keeps his verses tight to beats that echo Griselda’s boom-bap aesthetic through a laid-back California lens, and the soundscape gives Wolf Haley’s penchant for acting a sinister intention.
When “CORSO” begins with “Speaking of that fresh shit, I don’t need gum / cookie crumbs in the Rolls never crumbs of weed / He doesn’t talk to his bitch in three days, that doesn’t have to be like this / I’m ready for the trio, âsounds more like a threat than a warm invitation to one of his many mansions.
Raps sound like a man with the world at his fingertips who can spin him in any direction he chooses. Whether it’s pissing off label executives or someone close to someone, Tyler has no regrets because he’s a “bad person” and he’s at peace with those decisions. He understands that the number of commas in his bank account gives him a degree of recklessness that we mere mortals can only dream of.
The harsh talk, bragging, and glamorous self-reflection carry the album’s first 12 minutes with a speed more associated with track encounters than hip-hop albums. The pace only slows down a bit on the single “WUSYANAME”, a joint assisted by YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ ign that sounds straight out of the era of baggy jeans, Cross Colors, and when Marques Houston has passed. by Batman (although Tyler typically chooses to express a particular brand of dirty hedonism instead of going for the touching, gritty instrumentals of the time).
We would be wrong not to mention the album thief verse from another DJ Drama partner, Lil ‘Wayne. Seriously, for a guy who once seemed ready to step into that Miami sunset and call it a day, Wayne’s raps sound like they’re bathing in a fountain of youth on âHOT WIND BLOWSâ. While Weezy talks about the wind under his wings and the desert eagle under his cloak, Tyler is more concerned with living the literal jet life. He takes us from the limousine in plain sight from the window of his plane without a hint of regret. Some rappers are at odds over their lavish lifestyle; The designer is the rare well-adjusted artist, comfortable in his own skin and massive ego.
This self-awareness bleeds in the second half of the album. Tyler acknowledges his bravado, failures, regrets, contradictions, and feelings about being a black man in 2021. That last part makes “MANIFEST” a highlight, if only for his raw honesty when he raps: “Am I doing enough or not doing enough / I try to run with the stick but I see my shoes in the mud / Everything I say dog, I fuck shit / so I just say to these black babies they should do whatever they want.
While Tyler isn’t one to question himself publicly, his music offers a glimpse into the soul of another black man wondering if he’s doing enough to fight injustice. This burden is even heavier on someone who has the influence and wealth of Tyler, the Creator. Whether you think he’s wrong to spend some of his hard-earned money on a necklace, rather than giving it all away, doesn’t matter. He finds his way in the darkness, just like us.
This journey includes heartbreak, because no Tyler album, The Creator is complete without romance. “WILSHIRE” is eight and a half minutes of a once intense love story turned to dust due to her need to feed her ego. He stumbles over words and mumbles parts of a sad story, sounding like someone who isn’t quite ready to deal with the truth. On an album filled with dope lines from a guy who always says it with his chest, “WILSHIRE” is a rare moment where you can feel him holding back. The ego is hidden in the closet for a song, further blurring the lines between man, character, and alter-ego.
Maybe that same ego is the reason this album is less experimental than IGOR. Tyler’s 2019 LP threw multiple genres into a mixer and, like the man highlighted, was not really a rap album. Good, CALL ME IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF, from its samples to its reference artworks, is unquestionably a rap album. And it’s amazing at that, because when he’s focused, there are maybe a handful of people better at rap than Tyler Okonma. The way he presents his own story with witty and insightful narration on âMASSAâ is, no pun intended, masterful.
The song somehow apologizes for the less-loved Cherry Bomb, traces his growth as a man and serves as a hymn to all successful young black men that “massa couldn’t catch.” It’s no small feat, even for a good rapper. Still, he does it effortlessly and even shows vulnerability with a few confessions that he’s not immune to criticism from people who have “lunch breaks.” Even for someone with a Grammy to their name, the mean tweets and the handful of bad reviews always sting. It is this ego that speaks, and it is a feeling that most of us can relate to.
When your last album gets so many standing ovations, creating a follow-up can seem daunting. To Tyler’s credit, he hasn’t rested on his laurels. Instead, he wrote a concise piece of work on a very confident adult realizing that his own ego is both his best asset and even his worst enemy. And he does it on break beats, accompanied by a DJ, and using rap as his weapon of choice. CALL ME IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF examines how the past informs Tyler’s present and future. That’s 53 minutes of ups, downs, and all the self-inflicted traps in between.
CALL ME IF YOU LOSE YOURSELF Masterpieces: