In January of last year, Tyler, the creator “Igor” won the Grammy Award for best rap album. Speaking to the press backstage, he expressed his frustration at the narrow ways black artists are celebrated at the Grammys, calling his nomination in the rap category, for a deeply musically diverse album, “a compliment. Upside down”.

But the attention to that comment eclipsed what he said on stage when he received the award – that he was grateful for the support of his fans, because, he confessed, “I never felt fully accepted in rap. “

Blocked on both sides, Tyler nonetheless emerged victorious, an acknowledgment of the sheer strength of the vision he had built for a decade as the de facto chewer of the Odd Future crew. It was also a testament to how he harnessed the power of the internet and built a vision out of it all, selling it to millions of people without crossing too much with the systems built to do so.

However, the exclusions sting a bit. And the turbulent, at times scabrous and constantly energetic “Call Me if You Get Lost” – currently the country’s No. 1 album – is the logical response to these two obstacles. It’s such a comprehensive rap album as Tyler put it out – rarely has he been so keen to display his good faith. But it also demonstrates the pop potential of Tyler’s now iconic approach to hip-hop, the way his post-Pharrell embrace of chords and melody is actually in conversation with 1960s pop, French chanson. , acoustic soul and funk. An amazingly good hip-hop album, or a rewiring of pop DNA: “Call Me if You Get Lost” has both senses.

First of all, the bars. Part of the chasm separating Tyler from the rest of the genre (at least in terms of perception) is how in the past he has sometimes downplayed his lyrical talent in favor of musical experimentation. When he turns to rap, like he does on this album, it’s always a refreshing jerk.

Most of all, he’s concerned about the lifestyle success has given him, but even though the topic can be repetitive – there are a lot of Rolls-Royce mentions, a lot of talk about passports – he delivers them with the shock of the new. “You don’t all get it, the fish is so fresh you might taste the sand,” he boasts over the lush “Hot Wind Blows”. On the somber, stomping “Lumberjack,” he emphasizes the depth of his independence: “I own my businesses to the fullest, told them to keep the loan. “

The album is structured much like one of DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz mixtapes from the mid-2000s, with Drama himself barking on each track, sneaking between Tyler’s bragging rights. Tyler’s resuscitation of an aesthetic that likely shaped him is both a calculated nod to the hip-hop community that couldn’t quite place him early in his career, and also an adjustment to the energy of the swollen chest of that time. The frictional juxtaposition of Drama yelling “Gangsta Grizzzzillzzzz” as Tyler talks about keeping picnic blankets in the car – it’s both a tribute and a disturbance.

This is also how Tyler approaches his production here. “Lumberjack” is built on a disturbing sample of horror-horror pioneers Gravediggaz, and “Wusyaname” flirts with 1990s R&B with a sample of H-Town’s “Back Seat (Wit No Sheets)”. Tyler is also eager to show how seamlessly he can integrate some of contemporary hip-hop’s iconic singers, whether it’s the relentlessly grimy 42 Dugg (“Lemonhead”) or the tragically sweet YoungBoy Never Broke. Again (“Wusyaname”). And he extracts some surprisingly good guest verse from his elders: Pharrell Williams (“Juggernaut”) and Lil Wayne (“Hot Wind Blows”).

There’s also a second side story in play on “Call Me if You Get Lost,” which sometimes reads as two separate albums born out of the same circumstances pulling on each other – one about how the Tyler’s reckless and privileged success made it, and the other about how all that loot doesn’t mean much without love.

The eight-and-a-half-minute “Wilshire” is where the two collide. It’s a surprising tale of lust for someone you can’t have (because they’re in a relationship with a friend of yours) that reads like so many things: an elegantly drawn story, an excavation breathtaking emotion, a track with an emergency boom tempered by the effects of wandering in space. Tyler lingers to feel here, and it’s touching and surprising: “They say, ‘Bros over Hoes’, I’m like, ‘Mm, nah, hey’ / I’d rather hold your hand than have a cool handshake. “

It takes up the theme of the much harsher and more frenetic “Corso”: “My broken heart / I remembered that I was rich so I bought myself new emotions / And a new boat because I prefer to cry in the sea. ‘ocean.”

These intersections of insurance and anxiety are the best of this album. (Fittingly, the headline “Call Me If You Get Lost” reads either as a statement of generosity or as an advocacy, depending on your purpose.) Songs like “Sweet / I Thought You Wanted to Dance”, less emotionally ambiguous, generally have less impact. – Tyler thrives on discord.

Ten years ago, discord was the fullness of his message. He was alternately a troll, an antagonist and at times downright offensive. He revisits that time on the raucous “Manifesto”, the most unexpected turn of this album: “I was canceled before I canceled was with my fingers Twitter / To protest outside of my shows, I gave them the middle finger . “

But Tyler is older now (30, to be precise). On the back of these controversies, he built an idiosyncratic empire that didn’t belong to any scene (perhaps because no scene would have it). “Manifesto” is the rare moment in his catalog where Tyler expresses his anxiety or regret about the way he once presented himself to the world. But he also remains stubborn. Rapping about how the expectations of expressing himself politically leave him upset, he reverts to his old perspective.

“I want everything I say, dog, I fuck [expletive] up, ”he said,“ So I’m just telling these black babies, they should do whatever they want. ”The lesson is that there was no lesson.

Tyler the Creator
“Call me if you get lost”

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