As we on the site have said during the time of his last album over 2 years ago, Tyler, The Creator definitely isn’t lazy when it comes to his craft. Flower Boy (or Scum Fuck Flower Boy) was one of my favorite albums of 2017 (and also a top favorite for both Decibel Boost cohorts Rob and Alex) and one where we all saw a different side of Tyler. Since then, he has been releasing some loosie tracks here and there along with having two TV shows at the time: one being a live-action documentary series on VICELAND called Nuts & Bolts, and of course his return to Adult Swim with The Jellies (currently on the 2nd season right now!). Of course, Flower Boy did get a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album… but yeah, he got beat out by Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.
Oh, and he made a soundtrack EP for that Illumination Grinch movie from last year. (Sorry, I had to mention that).
Now, we finally have a follow-up to Flower Boy with IGOR, and I’m going in completely blind with this, as in I heard nothing about any teaser tracks, or at least there weren’t any singles put out prior to the release.
So again, how do I feel about this? First, let’s get this out of the way.
Yes, I read that thing Tyler posted about this record coming into it, and he’s got a point about how this isn’t just another one of his previous albums and how to approach it during the first listen. Well, I… sort of did that and then re-listened to it a couple more times, and I’m getting some Flower Boy/Cherry Bomb vibes, especially from the production. You are getting that experimental neo-R&B sound with a bit of distorted horrorcore banger sounds, hence why I got those aforementioned vibes even with the vocal mixing thrown in there. Speaking of that, there was a part in the song “PUPPET” where when Kanye West had a verse, the sound felt like it was going in and out, and even though that’s one of my favorite songs here, that part does sound like he was recording somewhere far away from the recording room.
The content of the album is all about love, heartbreak, and how some relationships can progress or end. This is mainly since on his last album, Tyler came out in his own way, and with tracks like “A Boy is a Gun,” there’s no denying who he is referring to. Although, that song is referring to how the boy (or man) that Tyler is attracted to is dangerous like a gun, but he’s still infatuated with him, and even the guy in question says that Tyler should stay away from him. Then there eventually comes the break-up part in “I Don’t Love You Anymore” where he’s very much over his infatuation and hoping to move forward in the future. After this is the question of “Are We Still Friends?” after what happened, and yes that’s the final track, featuring this soulful sound to it sampled from “Dream” by Al Green along with Pharrell Williams providing additional vocals and a guitar solo from Jack White.
“GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” is the usual tenth track on a Tyler project that has a multi-part structure, and on a sonic level, it’s easily one of my favorites from the chorus done by CeeLo Green to the effects done on Tyler’s voice making it like that chipmunk-sounding soul music that’s somewhat in the vein of El DeBarge, and the second part of the song has the same cadence in the chorus to “Fragile,” by Tatsuro Yamashita.
However, if you are looking for the harder stuff (or at least something from this album with an aggressive touch to it), “NEW MAGIC WAND” is in that bag with how Tyler wants his love interest’s ex out of the picture, even resorting to murder. Yep, that aspect of him from his earlier projects still exists on here (Oh, and ‘magic wand’ is a term for gun). “WHAT’S GOOD” is another aggressive banger in the mix with additional vocals by up-and-coming UK rapper Slowthai, and while Tyler sings for the majority of the record, he does rap throughout the whole song, and he kills it with this verse.
That car crash couldn’t take me (Woo, ha)
Green haired angels all around me (Uh)
No answer why, no tears to cry, bitch, I’m alive (I see the)
That wasn’t my endpoint, like v-neck
I ain’t have nobody to cheat on, I cheat death
New album, no repeat, I reset
Everything I deliver swingin’ like New Jack
Two of ’em, I total, Kim and Pam
Me and Death, universe plays middle man
Quick nap, kick backlike horse eyes shut
Loud sound, no stretch
Motherfuckers really thought I died
Hoping they could take a spot
Nigga not knowing that I’m one of one
And they some Helen Keller-ass niggas
And I got my eyes open now I see the…
Oh, and I would mention the features he brought to this album… but first, I had to find out who’s in the damn thing to make sure I don’t mistakenly add a name who’s not featured. Lil Uzi Vert and Solange appear in the intro “IGOR’S THEME,” and it does its job serving as the intro of the album and getting into the groove of things. Solange appears again on “I Think,” “A Boy Is a Gun,” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore.” Santigold and Jessy Wilson make an appearance on “New Magic Wand,” and on “Earfquake” you get Jessy again alongside Charlie Wilson and Playboi Carti, and I didn’t mind the latter on this. Usually I’m not a Carti fan, but recently with this and the feature he did on Solange’s latest album When I Get Home (which Tyler provided additional vocals & production on, coincidentally), I was digging him but in smaller doses.
In short, I really dug the hell out of this album. We still get more of what goes on in Tyler’s head, and like Flower Boy, we do get this other side of him with some uniquely weird production that can be divisive among listeners. Going over the album again and again does increase my chances of making it on my best of list for 2019, and I don’t want to jump the gun early on this but I think I might like it more than Flower Boy.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy It. This man is a gun as he continues to shoot out an amazing album.
IGOR is available from Columbia Records and is on CD, vinyl, digital download and streaming services.