What It Sounds Like: Slightly more mainstream hip-hop from the experimental face of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All – Tyler, The Creator. It’s vile and controversial, just the way Wolf (his alter ego) likes it.
First and foremost as always in my life, I am a Christian man.
That being said, I’m also comfortable enough in my faith to listen to this insanity coming through my speakers without taking it too seriously.
However, I’m not listening to Wolf within the walls of a church. Tyler, The Creator isn’t known for being all that respectful in his lyrics, and while he’s cleaned up his act a little bit (I said a little bit – it still should have two Parental Advisory stickers, if that was even a thing) since 2011’s Goblin, and certainly since 2009’s Bastard mixtape, this still isn’t anything to be taken lightly, and isn’t for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t want my young kid watching Reservoir Dogs in the same way that I wouldn’t want him to be listening to Tyler, The Creator until he really understood the line between artistic expression and reality, and even then, I still wouldn’t be too sure. Remember, this is a review of an artist and his record. Come on – I’m going to give a very good review here, but I don’t endorse this behavior. I don’t use half of the words or phrases that we find on this album, but Tyler is simply pushing boundaries like Eminem did back in the Slim Shady days, and we have to give him credit.
Did Eminem really want to chop Kim up into little pieces and put her in his trunk?
No – give me a break.
Does Tyler really want to, well, do half of crap that he claims that there’s no way I’m actually typing out?
No – come on now.
All he really wants to do is ride a freaking roller coaster. You know, one like Colossus in Six Flags Magic Mountain, but a hyped-up, over-eager fan won’t let him on this said coaster-titled track, which is backed up with a consistent violin section, a heavy dropped bass guitar, and a steady variety of jazz piano chords. Also, there’s no hook – it’s just Tyler’s delivery of different verses all the way through. Does this sound like any type of rap record that you’ve listened to lately?
Tyler has been making tunes since he was a teenager (he’s only twenty-two now), but was propelled into the internet blog hyperdome with the second single off of Goblin, entitled Yonkers. Its simple and disturbing music video, along with its paranoia-inducing beat, is currently pushing fifty-eight million views on YouTube, and only spurred hype for his next release. Of course, fellow OFWGKTA member Frank Ocean helped push exposure for him as well, with his expansive and hugely popular 2012 release Channel Orange. Plus, Mr. Ocean also came out of the closet right before his record’s release as well. If that doesn’t help spur album sales in this day and age for any of the OFWGKTA members, what will?
While Goblin was certainly a quality release in pushing the boundaries and scope of what hip-hop could be, Wolf pulls the reigns a little tighter, having a much more consistent flow from start to finish, and bringing beats to the forefront that, while still being alternative and experimental, are somewhat easier to swallow for the common listener, dabbling in the obvious hip-hop, but also jazz, ambient, and classical styles.
Tyler is smart; there’s no two ways about it. He’s not just some punk kid from the streets rapping about killing people, getting high, and screwing various things that move (although he does rap about these things). He’s a smart producer. He’s a smart artist. He knows exactly what he’s doing. In one of the first lines off of Wolf‘s first single Domo23, he name checks the main disturbing content out of the previously mentioned Yonkers video and tells it like it is:
Sick to my mo——–ing tummy
B—h must think I’m a mo——–ing dummy
Because I dress bummy, b—h think I’m broke
B—h, I ate one roach and I made a lot of money.
The beat that he lays down in the background is straight 90s hip-hop and killer, while his delivery is harsh and on-point.
One of the best aspects about Wolf is the Tyler’s maturity as an artist. He can rap about actual issues that we find in the mainstream, like his father’s lack of presence in Answer, or the relationship awkwardness of, well, Awkward, where we also meet Tyler’s alter ego, Wolf Haley. We wouldn’t have found anything like those tracks on previous releases. This record is also over seventy minutes long, so there are way too many moments to try to highlight. Let’s just shoot for a couple: 1) Frank Ocean’s quality addition to the finale of Slater. 2) The slow jam sex on part three of the “one track trio” of ideas on PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer. 3) Pharrell William’s addition to the half love / half stalker track Ifhy. 4) The neo-musical-pop of TreeHome95 and 5) the electric tribal jam Tamale.
Album closer Lone is a beauty, as Tyler deals with the repercussions of fame in the first half, and his grandmother’s death in the second, all over a shimmering string section that wouldn’t sound out of place on a certain snow-covered bridge in It’s A Wonderful Life, with George Bailey crying out Clarence, please. Please! I want to live again. I want to live again!
After you’ve heard an album like this, it makes me wonder how anyone could ever listen to the likes of someone like Tyga again and still feel halfway decent about themselves while singing Rack City in their heads. There’s vulgarity with a sense of sophistication, and vulgarity simply for the sake of vulgarity.
This is the former.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Jamba / Answer