Recommend if you like: complex instrumentation, layered harmonic elements, being lazy on a hot summer day
Expectation: Tyler Okonma is a rapper, producer, and fashion designer who rose to prominence as the founder of hip hop collective Odd Future. While his early work often focused on shocking lyrics and simpler, abrasive beats, his 2015 album Cherry Bomb marked a departure into a more experimental sound tinged with indie rock and R&B.
- Foreword – Tyler goes straight into his characteristic style of wordplay, daisy chaining vague turns of phrase until they suddenly slip into thoughts of self-doubt and introspection. Not a particularly memorable song, but a great indicator of stylistic merge Tyler achieves on this album, finally pulling the most disparate elements of his sound together into something cohesive.
- Where This Flower Blooms – A great song to vibe to which also brings the listener one step deeper into the album’s unique sound, but nothing special on its own.
- See You Again – A lush, melodic love song which finally introduces the booming bass that forms the sonic underbelly of the album. Kali Uchi’s contributions are excellent, and Tyler’s yearning comes off surprisingly sweet.
- Who Dat Boy – Tyler has often put on a sinister face in his past music, and the album wouldn’t be such a perfect culmination of his work to this point without hearing something creepy. The same orchestral components which provided the lush backdrop of “See You Again” take a sinister, almost cinematic twist, and the beat goes as hard as anything you’ll hear this year. All of this supporting Tyler & Rocky’s reliable chemistry results in a killer track with a great video.
- Pothole – Solid verses from Tyler, a decent hook from Jaden Smith, and a great drum sample that just barely avoids getting stale.
- Garden Shed – The instrumental here is absolutely outstanding, patiently unfolding into a dreamy, psychedelic atmosphere to support Estelle’s ethereal harmonies. The song takes every opportunity to surprise the listener, and if I had one complaint, it would be that Tyler’s rapid delivery rushes the song to an end too soon.
- Boredom – Another lovely track that carries on the feeling of the album without producing any particularly memorable moments. Tyler’s musings on the topic of boredom are amusingly nostalgic and relatable, and the backing vocals are nice.
- I Ain’t Got Time! – It’s always great to hear a talented rapper just go off. The beat is wild, the hook is infectious, and Tyler is on his A-game.
- 911 / Mr. Lonely – Another track about loneliness, another collection of smooth, melodic vocal guests, and another Tyler verse that slips by just a bit too quickly.
- Droppin’ Seeds – Weezy always sounds great on Tyler’s production, and this interlude is no exception.
- November – As Tyler vents his insecurities, its difficult not to get drawn in. For once, the rushed delivery seems only to compound the song’s underlying messages: life is short, and Tyler is very anxious.
- Glitter – Though just as sweet as “See You Again”, the ties to the preceding track make it clear that Tyler is certain his love is unrequited, creating a downtrodden atmosphere more in line with “911 / Mr. Lonely”, and all at once, the two narratives converge.
- Enjoy Right Now, Today – A smooth, serene outro to give the listener one last taste of the album’s unique blend of sounds as they consider the resolution suggested by the song’s title.
Overall: Tyler, the Creator finally produced the album that everyone wanted from him. The production is rich with vibrant strings, harmonious vocals, pounding bass, and jazzy flourishes. The whole gang is in on the act: old friends such as Frank Ocean as Jasper, new cohorts like Rocky and Q, and even his crossover cosigns Kali Uchis and Rex Orange County all show up to support Tyler’s big moment. Every song is packed with ideas to the extent that this could easily have been a much longer album had it given each idea its own time to develop. However, just as his production achieves the highest peaks his fans could have hoped for, Tyler seems to have decided he’s not actually done with depressing rap. The album’s bright, sunny instrumentation stand at odds with Tyler’s voyeurs into loneliness, self-doubt, and unrequited love, drawing the listener into Tyler’s own inner conflict. Unfortunately, many of the lyrics rush by without giving time to consider their weight, as Tyler’s flows, while never at odds with the beat, rarely seem to complement it, as if the lyrics were written independently of the music. Scum Fuck Flower Boy is the best album Tyler has ever made, as well as his most honest. Its unfortunate for him that honesty can be so painful.