Since his time as the ringleader of Odd Future, Tyler, the Creator has had an impact, but reviewers had a tough time supporting him wholeheartedly until his most consistent and introspective work, Scum Fuck Flower Boy. Between his antics, rougher lyrical patches, and mixed bag musical ones, Tyler always presented some sort of elephant in the room.
Still, Tyler’s progression has been almost precisely logical throughout his career. Punky jabs were his start, and gradually his production chops have gotten jazzier and sleeker–yes, Cherry Bomb was a bit of a mess, but Flower Boy would undeniably have been impossible without the likes of “Find Your Wings” and “Smuckers.” Neither Igor nor Flower Boy, his best two albums, signify the arrival moment were he got it right, rather they both prove that Tyler is in fact here for the long haul. He will continue to evolve and hopefully listeners will be within the same hemisphere for more albums down the road, but for now we are presented with a consistent pop cultural figure with a remarkable versatility that no one could’ve seen coming.
IGOR is Tyler’s least rap-forward project. Some have deemed it a R&B project, and I’d have to say I consider it more of a producer work–almost in league with the work of Kaytranada. The songs find propulsion from warm beats moving in vague directions. Vocals are repetitious and in a lot of ways secondary to the emotional content of the sound here. Rather than the straightforward pop texture of “See You Again,” with its catchy chorus and rapped verses, songs here are much more loose. This probably saves him a bit on songs like “Earfquake,” where Tyler’s almost squeaky voice sings lovelorn words to a former lover.
‘Loverlorn’ kind of takes me to the next key part of the album. Yeah, its pretty much a breakup album, but its atypical in a lot of ways. The beginning of the album operates as a blown up version of Lorde’s “Supercut,” capturing the initial explosion where you run back all the good moments in your head and can’t really imagine where or why it went south. “For real this time…I cannot fall short;” “I think I’m falling in love/this time I think its for real;” “running out of time/to make you love me;” these phrases verge on numbing which is kind of the point. When your life falls apart there’s a lot of pieces and little analysis of them.
Then, there’s the jealousy of the “New Magic Wand:” “It has nothin’ to do with that broad/But if it did, guarantee she’d be gone;” the “stay the fuck away from me” of “A Boy is a Gun;” and the “I can’t maneuver without you next to me” of “Puppet.” The production has a meditative, almost calming nature to it, but for sure close listens reveal a bit of Tyler’s internal chaos. “What’s Good” is the obligatory nod to Tylers former self with firebrand rapping, incidentally the moment that leads to the self acceptance of “Gone, Gone:” “I hope you know she cant compete with me.” Like Ariana Grande’s thank you, next, Tyler takes advantage of the occasionally crazed break up experience to make a dynamic, wrestling work that never settles into one sound.
I will say that you kind of have to be on board for Tyler already to appreciate this one. Some of the ‘rap’ verses sound a bit awkward if you remove yourself from the place of ‘fan who finds Tyler’s faults endearing,’ but again the evolution is in some ways the biggest appeal. If Flower Boy proved that Tyler could make us pay attention for a full 45 minutes, IGOR proves that staying on board is a must.