Review | Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
Polarising musical phenomenon Tyler, The Creator returns after his traditional two-year absence with a new major project that furthers his discography from any true definition.
An artist that has undergone one of the heaviest evolutionary changes in Hip Hop culture is Tyler, The Creator. It’s been a long road for the former Odd Future ringleader, and it’s led up to his most recent offering IGOR. The Californian native burst onto the scene in 2009 with his debut solo mixtape Bastard (2009), which was followed by his debut album Goblin (2011), released under XL Recordings in 2011. These two projects naturally reside together as a representation of Tyler’s early style, obscene lyrical content with rough mixing and an endearing amateurish appeal. Since then, the underbelly has softened through the releases of Wolf (2013) and Cherry Bomb (2015) and Tyler’s most recent project Flower Boy (2017) included personal themes of sexuality, loneliness and his own existential feelings as a rapper in the 21st century. However Tyler made it clear prior to the release of IGOR that “this is not Bastard. This is not Goblin. This is not Wolf. This is not Cherry Bomb. This is not Flower Boy. This is IGOR.” and he couldn’t have been more correct.
IGOR initially comes off as a production-focused record with smooth transitions and interesting instrumentals. Undoubtedly, the lyrics take a back seat to the production due to their succinct delivery and lower volume compared to the grandiose production composed by Tyler, including booming synths, intricate piano lines and resonating guitar riffs. A primary example of this style occurs on “Puppet”, where Tyler’s short opening verse and mellow chorus invites the listener to follow through to the second half of the song, which possesses one of the greatest moments on the album: a verse from Kanye West which sees Ye almost whispering into the mic under the instrumental followed by a truly heavenly ensemble of backing vocals and rhythmic percussion. However, after the first few listens as the initially jarring production is digested, the lyrical content takes centre stage.
The emotional content of this album is surprisingly dense. We got our first taste of Tyler’s emotional side on Flower Boy, however his discussions on that album were often unique for him, such as him pondering his existence as a rapper and own personal loneliness. However on IGOR , a universally relatable theme is the backbone of the album, the finding of, and more specifically, the falling out of love. The first half of the album details the rollercoaster that is a romantic relationship, from the repeated chorus “Don’t leave, it’s my fault” on Earfquake, to the emphatic and triumphant “I think I’m in love, and this time I think it’s for real” on I Think.
After the brooding hook “Please don’t leave me now” placed under angry, abrasive synths on New Magic Wand, the second half of the album is dedicated to the acceptance and rebuilding phrase of a breakup. Subtle yet universally relatable lyrics such as “Thank you for the love, thank you for the time” on Gone Gone/ Thank You and “Are we still friends?” on, you guessed it, Are We Still Friends have an underrated emotional impact on the listener that I’d argue is a trait of the album as outstanding as the catchy and unique production. As such, the album is the complete package. Its production offers some new intricacies on every listen, whilst the thematic and lyrical concepts are reasonable as they still maintain an impact whilst not being overly emotional or irrational.
Best song: Earfquake
Worst song: A Boy Is A Gun