By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
For Tyler, The Creator, Flower Boy has been a long time coming. The former Odd Future leader’s discography is a rocky one if you’re not a part of his loyal fanbase. Tyler’s most recent albums bounce around without ever landing on a cohesive sound or theme, leaving them often sounding cluttered or unfinished.
While his first two albums displayed the angsty, hardcore and often violent side of Tyler that brought himself and Odd Future so much media attention in the turn of the decade, Wolf, released in 2013, began showing a side of Tyler unknown to the world previously. Tracks like Answer and Treehome95 sounded less bitter and miles sweeter, with themes of longing backed by jazzy production. Tyler dabbled with these sounds through his next effort, Cherry Bomb, but again fell short with cluttered directions and sounds, this time with a decrease in production and much less memorable hooks.
Flower Boy has taken those ideas that he previously dabbled with and perfected that vision. The aggressiveness of Goblin and the brash production of Cherry Bomb has disappeared, as has the wall of angst that Tyler put up to protect his vulnerability. Flower Boy finds the influential artist revealing himself lyrically and production-wise at his very best.
The songs are more sticky, grand, lush, and gorgeous. Tracks like See You Again and Boredom demonstrate this perfectly. The hooks are incredibly catchy and backed by some of the best instrumentals Tyler has made in his discography. Lyrically, Tyler is confessional, as he spits impressive bars about his recent disinterest in his friends, his fears, his sexuality and paints a picture of who he truly is behind the brash personality the media has displayed him as for the past 7 years. The centerpiece of the album, Garden Shed shows some of Tyler’s most open lyrics he’s released thus far.
“Garden shed, garden shed, garden shed, garden shed / For the garden / That is where I was hidin’ / That is what love I was I in / Ain’t no reason to pretend”
Fans speculated Tyler used a Garden Shed as a representation of “coming out of the closet” and thus addressing his sexuality up front.
Other tracks like 911 / Mr. Lonely expand on the idea of loneliness Tyler has explored in previous releases with an outstanding turnout. 911 begins the track as an infectious soul single with help from Frank Ocean. The beat is upbeat, infectious and fun with lyrics that focus on the dark realities of not having a companion and feeling alone. Towards the end of the track, the drums increase and Tyler speeds up his flow and drops an incredible verse sticking on the same theme of loneliness. It’s one of the most cohesive songs he has ever written.
Glitter is another infectious track and features the Ladera Heights rapper crooning through the hook and a Pharrell inspired synthesizer leading the main harmonies. With themes of Tyler’s sexuality intertwining throughout Flower Boy, Glitter has a vibe that is directed more towards the open sexuality Tyler expresses.
While Flower Boy follows a direction more lush than aggressive, there are only a few handful of bangers on the album that are reminiscent of Tyler’s earlier work. Who Dat Boy, featuring A$AP Rocky is one of the best singles of the year and has a sticky hook and impressive verses from both leaders of Odd Future and A$AP Mob. Well worth the wait for those who have been waiting for more from the duo since their collabs on What The Fuck Right Now and Telephone Calls. Ain’t Got Time! is a braggadocios banger that has head-turning lyrics like “Next line will have ’em like ‘Woah’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004” & “Four, five, six years ago sucked / Seven figure conversations with Converse finalized / ‘Cause Vans fucked up”.
It seems that Tyler’s previous work has had controversial lyrics with no deeper meaning other than to stir the pot and agitate the media. Flower Boy’s lyrics seem confessional and important, as Wolf Haley ditches shocking for something with a little more substance. Flower Boy is without a doubt the best album the Golf Wang designer has put out so far, with consistent lyrics, production, and themes throughout the 46-minute duration. The features are impressive and demonstrate Okonma’s ear for singers and production that would best suit them.
Flower Boy doesn’t dive so deep from Tyler that it would turn off fans either. The album is so unapologetically him for those who have been following him since his breakout in 2010, just a side that hasn’t been so exposed until this point in time. If you were turned off by Tyler’s music from Goblin in 2011, Scum Fuck Flower Boy urges you to take another chance on one of the brightest and influential stars in hip-hop now.