Flower Boy album cover. Photo: Columbia Records
Posted on behalf of Kieran Patel.
A year ago, rapper, producer and fashion icon Tyler The Creator released his sensational album, Flower Boy awing a new generation of music lovers with its innovative and unique sound. Day one listeners of Tyler were given his most cohesive album yet, and new listeners were shown a side of Tyler that’s always been in his music, but has been hidden by Tyler’s layered of edginess and overlooked by media hit pieces. Now, having attended a live show and made use of a full year to digest the album, I’m able to give the in depth review this album deserves.
Unlike past albums, where songs have split personalities–half of each song is trolling and the other half heartfelt–everything Tyler says here is like a thought that’s been plucked directly from his mind. This starts in the first few seconds of the album on the starter track “Forward” with Tyler asking himself questions that lead into questions starting with, “How many cars can I buy until I don’t wanna drive anymore?”, and ending with, “If I die will anyone know or care?” From there we get to see Tyler accepting himself as a person, finding true love, feeling himself, drowning in true boredom and existential loneliness, draping his mindset in both skepticism and nostalgia, and, finally, fully embracing his sexuality. With his words alone Tyler is able to make the listener feel exactly what he describes by aiming directly at the emotional core of we feel and are most concerned about as human beings, even when he does so by using metaphors that connect those emotions to driving through the hills of Hollywood.
HEY TYLER, CAN YOU SCORE MY INDIE MOVIE?
Although Tyler’s fans love his distinctly deep voice, Tyler himself hates his voice. So on this album, Tyler decided to sing as little as he could by writing his few lines to be as impactful as possible and letting the production and features (guests) shine. This masterpiece is filled with melodic synth chords, hard drum beats, sunny violin sections, perfectly placed samples, chilling guitar riffs, heart stopping bass drops, and the best collection of features since Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Tyler brings relatively unknown artists to the spotlight like Rex Orange County and Kali Uchis, who each had a relatively small following until this album but since then have amassed their own gigantic fanbases in the short period of a year because of their fantastic performances. There are some songs here like “Garden Shed”, where Tyler’s voice only appears for 40 seconds of the almost 4 minute track but, because of Estelles perfect feature and Tyler’s production, the track is one of the best of 2017. Tyler wanted this album to be like a soundtrack to a movie, and he followed through. Each track draws you into a world of imagination, with Tyler moving whatever story your brain conjures to the beat of his emotions, and every song floats effortlessly to the next, from the opening scene (“Forward”) to the end credits (“Enjoy Right Now, Today”), thereby making it effortless to let your mind’s imaginary film flow to Tyler’s music.
Tyler the Creator performing live. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
THE PERFECT CAR RIDE
This is the perfect car ride album, in part because it was designed that way. Tyler loves cars as much as he loves driving them, so he made an album that everyone can cruise to. With songs like “Ain’t Got Time!” made for darting through traffic, interludes like “Sometimes…” playing like a radio show segment, and “Droppin’ Seeds feat. Lil Wayne” designed for cruising down the PCH on that beautiful sunny day, this album is perfect for the road–that is, as long as your destination is less than 45 minutes away.
“I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M CRYING IN THE CLUB RIGHT NOW”
While this author personally loves Tyler’s previous albums, they aren’t made for social events. Playing a song like “Yonkers” at a kickback won’t go down well, and Tyler knew that. In interviews, Tyler has stated that he intensely studied pop music and how people respond to music in the club to structure this album. He wanted to finally see everyone enjoying his music together, and after a year of hearing songs off this album being played at parties and even watching the album being performed live, I can say, without a doubt that he succeeded. Shouting “I can’t even lie I’ve been lonely as fuck” with 6,000 people before collectively jumping to a song about pure and utter loneliness was supremely oxymoronic, but Tyler’s hard hitting bass and beautiful chords in “Mr. Lonely” made it this and the rest of the best concert experience of my life possible.
Because of its inventiveness, sincerity, and layers of creativity, this album is one of the very few for me that, after endless repeated listens hasn’t become stale; throughout this past year I would venture as far as to say Flower Boy has become my favorite album of all time.