Tyler, the Creator- Flower Boy Album Review
(By: Thomas Rodriguez)
Tyler the Creator shows his softer side in an ambitious, introspective, and downright beautiful rap album.
Tyler, the Creator. Prior to the release of Flower Boy (July 21, 2017), Tyler, the Creator was well known in the music community as a huge jokester (or troll) with some vulgar, offensive, and sometimes insensitive opinions and words. Whether it be the misogynistic, homophobic, or violent lyrics he uses to add depth to his songs, or his sarcastic musings on the Internet, Tyler has made a name for himself in both his albums and his social media presence. Many have called him a terrible person who needs to stop making music, many have called him a breath of fresh air because of his no BS stance on life in general. This can definitely be found in his embracing of the weirder side of the world through his odd lifestyle, or his out-of-music ventures (Loiter Squad is a perfect example). Tyler seems to take his various criticisms well; he rejects the false accusations on his character while embracing his various controversies and using it as a means to promote himself and have a good laugh with his fanbase. While Tyler’s various controversies can admittedly be found in his music, they have never really stemmed from his albums’ quality, as they have always been pretty decent. Tyler has consistently been introspective and funny, as well as have a knack for some clever (if vile) lyrics. In spite of this, his rapping performance has been a bit shoddy in the past. This extends to some of his albums, as some are very bloated, bursting at the seams with the amount of filler they have, bringing down their quality from being truly great. However, with Flower Boy, Tyler has changed things up. With a relatively quiet release, Tyler has given us an amazing album with absolutely no filler, more maturity, better rapping than before, grand production, and some truly wonderful, emotional writing. It’s…..it’s beautiful. Yes, Tyler, the Creator gave us something beautiful.
If you look at Tyler’s sonic growth from his past work to Flower Boy, your jaw will definitely drop. Musically, Tyler’s abilities on all fronts have become almost completely different in how skilled they have become, especially in production. Flower Boy sounds exactly as the title suggests: it’s consistently dreamlike, colorful, lush, and just majestic. Whether it be the beautiful vocal layering and synths on standout “911/Mr. Lonely”, the awe-inspiring horns on “See You Again”, or the downright amazing orchestral intro on “Where This Flower Blooms”, all of the sounds on this album sound immaculate. This album isn’t too scared to go out of the peaceful garden, however. Occasionally, Tyler will ramp the instrumental energy to eleven, just to rattle your brain and provide a background to some hard hitting bangers, especially with “Who Dat Boy”, with its almost freaky synth intro, and percussion that is merciless to your eardrums. The instrumental variety on this album absolutely stunning, and when you learn that Tyler was the sole producer on this album, your jaw drops through the floor. This project is one of the few cases where the album sounds exactly like what the cover art makes you think it will sound like. Hell, even the instrumental outro on the album, “Enjoy Right Now, Today” is one of the best instrumental tracks I’ve heard all year, with its cute kid samples and marching drum beat. Tyler has made great choices in not just his instrumentals, but his featured artists too. Tyler mostly brings in singers for these songs, with a few rappers on the side, but every single feature knocks it out of the park. Frank Ocean’s soulful performances on “Where This Flower Blooms” and “911/Mr. Lonely” match the energy of the songs perfectly, and Kali Uchis’s contributions on “See You Again” are stellar. Jaden Smith and A$AP Rocky carry their weight and have great performances on their respective songs, providing even more memorable moments to songs that were chock full of them to begin with. Every featured artist is another ingredient in Tyler’s recipe for the album, and they help extend the album to even further heights.
However, even with my high praise for the featured artists on Flower Boy being given, the largest highlight of this album is easily Tyler himself. When it comes to his songwriting, emotion, and performances, Tyler more than delivers on all fronts. His voice on the album maintains its deep, coarse tone, yet his rapping style has been cleaned up quite a lot. If you compare his rapping or rhyme schemes on “Foreword” alone to those of any contemporary rappers, Tyler stands out from the crowd in all the best ways. Sometimes, Tyler will even exchange
his rapping for some surprisingly emotional singing, and these moments of sincerity are a gut punch to your emotions, especially on the emotionally stellar “See You Again”, or downright beautiful “Boredom”. Tyler’s writing isn’t just technically impressive, it’s also seeped in emotion. Throughout the album Tyler’s lyrics are equally emotional, sad, and flat out sweet. Flower Boy utilizes a lot of clever floral imagery in its lyrics, but Tyler’s lyrics are more than just flowers: Tyler contemplates his loneliness, materialism, and sexuality, and every song is just another revealing moment into his psyche. To see how Tyler reacts to his lifestyle and surroundings is to truly feel like you are sitting in a room (or garden) with him as he reveals his personal fears. “Garden Shed”, a somewhat controversial song due to it being Tyler’s reveal of his homosexuality, is an equally beautiful and saddening song, especially as it details Tyler’s fear of his true identity being revealed to his friends. As we listen to “November”, detailing Tyler’s happy past, we want him to find happiness in his life, and his relatable feelings of isolation and desire for love from friends make us think about our current state in life. It makes us equally melancholy, yes, but inspired by Tyler to find happiness, just as he seeks it. With the several references to cars and material wealth in Flower Boy, (especially on “Pothole”), Tyler eventually makes us realize he’s replacing his lack of friends or love with things he can buy, which he acknowledges on the equally soulful and revealing “911/Mr. Lonely”. Tyler’s songs are so honest, revealing, and well performed, you feel like you’re taking a journey with him on his search for companionship. And what a journey it is!
When it comes to the tracklist of Flower Boy, there isn’t a dull moment to be found. “Foreword” is a stellar opener to the album, setting its themes up with some terrific rhymes and wordplay and a great featured appearance from Rex Orange County, and is followed by the equally fantastic and catchy “Where This Flower Blooms”. “See You Again” is a downright beautiful sounding love song, and “I Ain’t Got Time!” is a hard hitting wake up call to Tyler’s anger and frustrations with his loneliness. Even the soft, high pitched closer “Glitter” (essentially an outpouring of Tyler’s love to someone over a voicemail) is so cheerful and happy that it can’t help but make you feel warm inside. When the voicemail isn’t received, as the ending of the song shows, the emotional weight of lost love hits like a truck. It’s equally beautiful, poignant, and sad.
Overall, Flower Boy is an album I can find almost no flaws with, in terms of its themes and songs. The only possible flaw can be found in the short “Droppin’ Seeds”, but that’s only because of how great Lil Wayne’s appearance was, and how great it would be on a full song. Despite this tiny flaw, Flower Boy does everything else with such beautiful execution, it’s almost unbelievable. How could the happy go lucky, vulgar, Tyler, the Creator make something like this? If the content of Flower Boy can teach us anything, don’t judge someone or something until you see what they’re truly like, and see their true colors. And the colors of Flower Boy and its Creator are simply wonderful.
Score: Listen to this album/10
Tracks to save: “Where This Flower Blooms”, “See You Again”, “Who Dat Boy”, “Boredom”, “911/Mr. Lonely”, “Glitter”
Tracks to skip: None
Did you like this album? Any comments or criticism? Comment down below and let me know! I’d love to hear what you think!