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Summer Recap: Tyler, The Creator Blooms on “Flower Boy”

By Peter Ntourntourekas; For the Clock
On October 17, 2017

Summer Recap: Tyler, The Creator Blooms on “Flower Boy”

 

Peter Ntourntourekas

For the Clock

pntourntourekas@plymouth.edu 

 

Tyler, The Creator has had a tumultuous media presence since his rise to fame in 2010. With the release of his first mixtape “Bastard,” he immediately garnered media attention and criticism due to his exceptionally crass lyrics and crude production.

He was applauded for his ingenuity and creativity in his bedroom creations, producing albums for himself and the rest of his collective, Odd Future. In the coming years, Tyler would butt heads with well-mannered listeners due to his purposely-offensive and abrasive lyrics.

Tyler and Odd Future were in headlines for years, causing a ruckus and disturbing the ears of unprepared listeners with poorly-produced mixtapes and innovative style.

After some time in the spotlight, Odd Future enjoyed a run of their Adult Swim skit show “Loiter Squad.” Some members moved away from the group and the spotlight, producing solo projects. Tyler started a record label of his own and released “Wolf” and “Cherry Bomb,” two albums where his maturity in both lyricism and production started to flourish.

His synths were still abrasive, but somehow it all began to work. Critics still were not entirely on Tyler’s side, but they were finally appreciating his unique approach to music.

Tyler’s newest album, “Flower Boy,” which was officially released on July 21, is the culmination of the different aspects of his different creative avenues. His synthesizers are still distorted and harsh, but they blend with his multitude of R&B samples and complicated piano jazz chords.

His deep voice is still gritty and loud, but it pairs with the clean, strummed guitars like a steak and fine wine. “Flower Boy” feels like the album Tyler was always trying to create, but wasn’t prepared for. It is the result of artistic growth and personal growth coming together to create a truly sophisticated piece of music.

The seventh track, “Garden Shed,” is a perfect example of Tyler’s newfound cohesion. Echoing synths and electric pianos layer on top of a muddied bass that instills a sense of calm across the track. A distorted guitar squeals in the distance, but it only adds to the summery dream state of the garden.

Multiple singers come in and out, with singer-songwriter Estelle being the main feature. It all dies down and a disheveled guitar swings chords around your head while the track resets. Like a perfectly-skipping re- cord, Tyler explodes onto the track alongside a mellow assembly of synths and string chords.

The lyrics on “Garden Shed” are representative of the whole work of “Flower Boy”: Densely symbolic and impressively-concordant. For example, the lines, “Garden Shed/ For the garden/ That is where I was hidin'/ That was real love I was in/ Ain't no reason to pretend,” detail a relationship that Tyler was guarding from the outside world.

Considering his media presence, this is an understandable development, but those lyrics were not the noteworthy ones for many online fans this summer. A few weeks before the album’s release, the project was leaked online in its entirety and fans gobbled it up. Even though Tyler had released some singles beforehand, devoted fans couldn’t resist the indulgence of an unplanned early release.

The most notable lyrics appear throughout the album, but they all paint pictures of romantic relationships between Tyler and other men. His unofficial coming out was due to lyrics like “Garden shed for the garçons/ Them feelings that I was guardin’,” on Garden Shed, or the more heavy-handed, “Next line will have 'em like, ‘Woah’/ I've been kissing white boys since 2004,” on the track “I Ain’t Got Time!”.

Tyler’s sexuality isn’t an important aspect of his music in a vacuum, but he has previously come under fire for his use of homophobic slurs in his music and was branded a homophobe by less-understanding media outlets. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community himself would create lots of new meaning in those troublesome lyrics.

Many fans fairly conclude that he is far from hateful due to his association with queer artists like Frank Ocean and Tyler’s “LGBTQ+ Pride” line of clothing on his GOLF clothing label.

Regardless of the sensationalizing of his lyrical coming out, Tyler’s new album is a maturing of both his artistic self and his musical prowess. Of course, the calmer tracks are accompanied with bangers like “I Aint Got Time!” and “Who Dat Boy,” where Tyler’s more familiar rowdy lyricism shines.

Booming bass rolls across the sampled melodies and crunchy percussion to create the most well-produced deep cuts of a Tyler project to date.

Overall, “Flower Boy” is Tyler’s best showing thus far. His dissonant production was previously distracting and took away from the potential of the melodies. On “Flower Boy,” it finally comes together as Tyler’s still experimental production cleanly wraps around his vocals to let the listener immerse themselves in the music as Tyler always wanted. This album deserves a thorough listen, all the way through, on a windy Fall day.

Score: 8/10

Best Tracks: “See You Again,” “Garden Shed,” “911/ Mr. Lonely”

Worst Track: “Glitter” 

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