Tyler The Creator - Flower Boy
Tyler The Creator takes himself to his creative and instrumental peak on his fourth record, (Scum Fuck) Flower Boy.
A fashion icon and ever lovable troll, Tyler The Creator, tones down the cruel humor and puts his creative talent to the test on Flower Boy. In an interview on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (after giving Colbert a firm ass grab) Tyler talks about focusing on the production of the album rather than his individual rapping. He stated that he wanted to make sure “Everything he says is ridiculously important”. His comments showcase the album’s greatest strengths. Tyler’s attention to the instrumentation and background vocals is incredible. He develops a very orchestral feeling with long beautiful strings filling the annals of the song “Foreward” but also uses these strings as a glaring beat in the song “Who Dat Boy”. Tyler’s arrangement gives a jazzy component to his song’s hip-hop foundation. Another constant throughout the album is the beautiful background vocals. They really accompany the instrumentation well, bolstering the jazzy vibes felt throughout the album. What’s fascinating is how Tyler merges these instrumentals with really catchy rapping. Even though Tyler is being humble and putting less emphasis on his rapping it still presents itself as an integral part of his ensemble. The nasty rapping on “Who Dat Boy” remind us that through all this glittery production value Tyler remains the same.
]The original title of, (Scum Fuck) Flower Boy, gives us a glimpse into the internal struggle of Tyler The Creator. On the one hand, Tyler is at heart a troll that the society looks down upon. His style of rap also feeds this “Scum Fuck” mentality. Along with all of this is Tyler’s beautiful creative side that has catapulted him into a cultural icon. From his Golf clothing line to his hip-hop producing, Tyler’s creative muscle is sometimes overshadowed by his scum fuck side. There is not much scum fuck on this album and so Flower Boy works well as a title. Thematically and instrumentally the album gels to create a vivid landscape that is reflected by the album artwork.
On “Who Dat Boy” the strings present an almost Alfred Hitchcock vibe with the suspense that it builds. This suspense builds to Tyler’s lyrical explosion. The apex of this album is the multifaceted “Boredom”. This song encapsulates everything that is great about this album. From the orchestral instrumentation to opening the song with pretty background vocals and stellar transitions that usher in the hip-hop lyrics. Lyrically the song is grouped in my mind with others in the album like “See You Again” and “911/Mr. Lonely” that present somber lyrics. “Boredom” feels like a way for Tyler to get over writer's block that might be contributing to his loneliness. With “See You Again”, Tyler paints a maddening picture of chasing after a girl almost endlessly. He gets romantic with his verse rapping “I said, okay, okay, okay, okidokie, my infatuation/Is translatin' to another form of what you call it? — Love”. The only qualm I have with this track is the somewhat cliché “I wonder if you look both ways/When you cross my mind,” lyrics as it comes off a little too corny. “911/Mr. Lonely”, like “Boredom”, is very catchy with a transition that Arcade Fire would envy. The “Mr. Lonely” section of the song is a deep introspective dive into Tyler’s psyche and insecurities. This is also one of the rare instances on the album that feels purely in the hip-hop realm.
While these songs show a humbler side of Tyler, there are another set of songs that ooze confidence. “I Ain’t Got Time” is a banger that is almost to a Jay-Z confidence level. Tyler brags about his converse deal and shows that he is too big of a pop culture icon for all of us. “Pothole” is another song lyrically about being able to take all the junk that life throws at you with the utmost confidence. Jaden Smith’s feature on this song sounded a little off at first but after a couple listens it really gels with the rest of the instrumentation and Tyler’s verses. Lil Wayne on “Droppin’ Seeds” makes a classic “gangsta” rap song with lyrics that I thought just pandered to the title of the album. While these songs lyrically might lean towards the scum fuck end of the spectrum, the instrumentation shows how powerful Tyler’s creative side is in play here.
This album has very few weak points as every song feels crafted and not just a throwaway. The ending track leaves a little to be desired as the constant almost marching band style drumbeat overpowers the jazzy instrumentation that Tyler is trying to implement here. This isn't ever resolved even after Tyler comes in saying “1..2..3..4”, as the instrumentation doesn’t explode as I anticipated. This is Tyler’s best album to date and we can only hope that in the future he decides to show his flower boy side more often in his music.
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