Album Review: Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

For Tyler, The CreatorFlower 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.

Image result for tyler the creator flower boy

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 BoyGlitter 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.

8/10


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

SUPPORT THE SITE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

SO FAR SO GOOD? NEW FRANK OCEAN TRACKS REVIEWED

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Frank Ocean may be the most omnipresent artist of this generation: before the big hiatus circa 2012-2017, Ocean was delivering his stories about morality, religion, social status and more with an unparalleled level of fluidity and honesty. Then when he wasn’t delivering the stories, he was becoming them, every action of his whether it be a rumor in an article or some unreliable twitter post being put underneath the microscope to see what would come of it when analysed. The binaries of being either there or gone didn’t exist to the Californian storyteller, further expanding the spectrum of music.

If Channel Orange saw the Californian singer-songwriter in his first act with last year’s Blonde acting as the tossing and turning second then the current onslaught of tracks from Mr. Ocean can be seen as confirmation of him finding his creative flow and doing everything to exercise it in an explosive final act. We’ve already seen him surprise us with Chanel, an interesting insight into his sexuality brought via some commercialism lyricism, and much like waiting for a bus to appear, another two have shown up. 

Biking

The first track to be discussed is Biking, a song that isn’t really doing so much in the meaning department but is at least creative in the way it approaches its structure. Yup, Biking isn’t telling the tale between two people who just happen to be going on a good old bike ride, instead, it’s literally Frank and guests Jay-Z and Odd Future confedorate Tyler The Creator rapping about cycling. What sounds like the premise of a rather average track is thankfully saved by the different approaches by each artist and the overall cyclic form of the track: Tyler presents the smoothest verse of the entire lot, his flow delivered at a near effortless speed with the best line on the whole track by far with alcoholic way I handle bars. Jay-Z manages to avoid listing off individual bike parts a la Monster, instead implementing some solid wordplay (handlebars like a Xanax), all delivered with a very calm demeanor. 

The chillness of Hov isn’t a universal vibe here though as Frank shows fragility with some tradmark transparency, speaking of sleepwalking and tying that into his unawareness and helplessness with his problems. All of this is backed up by a very simple acoustic guitar that feels just as soothing as the aforementioned Alprazolam that only ever really starts to pick up as the chorus arrives, continuing the theme of hardship but managing to present it all with some subtle bike metaphors which all go down smoothly. It would be a sin to discuss this track and not compliment Frank on that outro which couldn’t be less of a nod to Young Thug, channeling that bragadocious odd and near inaudbile delivery with true suaveness. Biking, on paper, should not work but with the creativity radiating from Ocean at the moment, it feels like he’s more capable than ever at perfecting his execution. 

8/10

Lens

Ocean’s most recent track is undoubtedly gonna be the most jarring of the bunch of new tracks he’s dropped. Lens starts right off with Frank discussing his bisexuality in terms of being with a man while having to hide the relationship from the other’s girlfriend, a topic that isn’t exactly new for him but one that’s approached in a different manner which keeps it fresh. The jarring aspect that may turn off some is how autotuned Frank’s voice is: he’s shown time and time again that he has a stunning voice so to some it may come across as annoying.

However, it seems purely intentional due to the other subject matter that the song explores concerning the media and all the lenses on him with a rather ominous sounding line of “I feel their smiles on me” cropping up in the chorus. The use of autotune sounds very fake but with Ocean’s forbidden love having to be hidden, in a way delegitimising it, as well as constant media scrutiny, Ocean’s voice acts as a reflection of this. A remix of this track, known simply as V2, follows up on this theme with the inclusion of Travis Scott building on this facade of happiness due to constant media attention. While Ocean seems to live fine despite it, Scott touches on reliance on other things to avoid the reality that he isn’t allowed to show. While instrumentally it is barren, Lens’ reflective nature and introspective lyricism is perfect for the track, resulting in what very well may be Ocean’s best track of the bunch.

9/10


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

SUPPORT THE SITE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

ALBUM REVIEW: DAMN. by KENDRICK LAMAR

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

 

It seemed like Kendrick Lamar‘s ambitious feats in the world of music may become his own undoing. First, there was Good Kid, m.A.A.d city, the follow-up to Section 80 which essentially played out like Boyz N The Hood but without video: it explored domestic violence, inter-gang turmoil, and moral ambiguity, all backed up by an interesting narrative from the perspective of a naive young K.Dot, trying to make his way in the world when all of the societal odds are stacked up against him. Succeeding this was To Pimp A Butterfly, a record that may not have pushed the envelope for a story in hip-hop but arguably did so for poetry, intertwining an ever expanding verse around a beautiful love letter to black music. Jazz and funk weren’t merely gimmicky and giving a song or two a bit of a change, rather they simply added to evocative lyrics and performances on display, ending up in what many are already calling the best hip hop record of the 21st century. 

Bar last year’s B-sides effort Untitled. Unmastered., which in itself only furthered everyone infatuation with the Compton rapper as he showed himself capable of creating gold from the scraps off the cutting room floor, everyone has waited patiently to see what Lamar will next whip up. Even before DAMN. dropped, due to the rapper’s music usually shining even brighter after thorough analysis, the internet was speculating as to what the album would entail: Is Kendrick dead? Does the album’s tracklist hint at an anagram? Will he drop a follow-up album called nation on Easter Sunday? It seemed like Kendrick had already shot himself in the foot, making his fans and the music world become too accustomed to something great that something that was simply good would not be enough. The thing is, though, that the theorising isn’t exactly stupid, rather listeners are misinterpreting what DAMN. is about.

There is no denying that Kendrick‘s fourth LP is his most religiously charged yet. We all know that religion and god have always played a part in his music, specifically in his last studio release, but there’s no better example on here to show an amplification of this than YAH. Kendrick refers a lot to the wickedness that DAMN. kicks off with on BLOOD. repeatedly calling for god while grappling with inner struggles. Later on in the track, he mentions “I know he walks the Earth but it’s money to get, bitches to hit, yah zeroes to flip, temptation is, yah, first on my list, I can’t resist, yah” meaning that he’s once again referencing to Satan’s temptations, much like he did on TPAB when he mentions the evils of lucy. 

While the previous track was religious, ELEMENT begins to ramp it up as Kendrick channels some messiah traits, claiming that he’ll die for this shit, but he acts as more of a martyr than a god: Bitch, all my grandmas dead so ain’t nobody prayin’ for me, I’m on your head, ayy. No matter who he has to take out, whether they threatened ones he loves, his city or his music, he’ll do it in style. 

However, while he delivers such a statement with total certainty, the next track FEEL, very much the audio equivalent of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, shows us a Kendrick who is questioning everything and everyone in his path, especially their motives. The intro alone manages to deliver this with a simple but catchy “ain’t nobody praying for me” before he delves into feelings of isolation (I feel like friends been overrated, I feel like the family been fakin’, I feel like the feelings are changin’) and depression (I feel like it’s just me, look, I feel like I can’t breathe, look, I feel like I can’t sleep). The constant self-doubt and the pleading for prayers delivered by the anaphora further send home these faith vibes as the same as Jesus before his inevitable betrayal.

Not only is Kendrick perceived as a martyr, and one that finds himself doubting himself and religion, but he’s an unconventional one at that, displayed perfectly on XXX as he implores his friend to seek violent revenge, tying into our wickedness and weakness argument. Is it better to be just as evil as those that have hurt you or forgive and forget? DAMN. seems to fill in the grey area that the bible so oftenly perceives as black and white. This is why many of these theories fell flat: they fell into the trap of thinking that Kendrick would need two albums to explore two different sides of the coin when none seemed to pick up the topography of the topic and all the interlinking lines.

Also, while we’re discussing this track, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. U2? On a Kendrick track? A weird choice but it fits in perfectly with a simple drum and piano instrumental backed up by Bono singing of turmoil (It’s not a place, this country is to be a sound of drum and bass, you close your eyes to look around). It’s actually a fitting appearance considering that the Irish act has used biblical overtones to explore topics and have shown a shared disdain for American presidents like Reagan. One thing is for sure though: no one expected a song that featured them to have one of the hardest hitting beats of the years. The police siren sample packs such a punch with the simple trap beat backing it up, sounding like it was ripped right out of GKMC.

Kendrick_HumbleSpeaking of sound, PRIDE manages to balance the gritty out with some gleam: Steve Lacy starts the track with a beautiful intro and joins Kendrick on the chorus with the eerie, screechy guitars from Pink Floyd‘s Echoes being slightly sampled during the bridge.  Much like wickedness and weakness being interwoven, so to are the track’s themes and sounds: here, PRIDE has a far more humble beat while detailing Kendrick’s conflictions between his ideals and his actions. This deliberation seems to stem from a certain proverb that details “when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom”. On TPAB, he was trying to “save the ghetto” with funky and religious-tinged music but on PRIDE, he drops these same Christian ideals, claiming he isn’t perfect, following up lines about dropping the bible in addition to what he’s said on previous tracks. It would be hard to ignore the fact that PRIDE precedes HUMBLE, much like the former acts as the sin of the latter’s virtue, much like with LOVE and LUST.

DAMN. isn;t all focussed on proverbs and religious verses, however. DNA., arguably the standout track on the LP, sees Kendrick rapping about black heritage pride and has a notable highlight that occurs during the chorus when the mixing of Ali interweaves an aggressive Kendrick with another notorious FOX News comment, this time by Geraldo Rivera who states that hip hop has done more damage than racism. This is followed by a massive, warped sounding bass that not only manages to take a jab at the media’s misinterpretation but also fit into the classic hip hop beat that the track lives on. We get more mention of this ignorant misinterpretation in the lines “sex money murder – our DNA”, obviously taking shots at stereotyping of black rappers when the genre explores far more topics than just that. Not only that but there’s some ridiculously good word play in abundance here, notably on the second verse (Yoga on a Monday, stretchin’ to Nirvana, just a few lines after baby in the pool).

While DNA. may be the subjective best track, it’s FEAR that manages to encapsulate what some may perceive DAMN.’s entire message being: consider this Boyhood if it was written from the perspective of an outwards looking black boy than a whiney white emo teen. We get an eerie production technique with the intro being played back but in reverse to take us back to Kendrick’s youth as a 7-year-old, having his entire world and life filled with fear by his mother. Despite this, Kendrick sees this as a bad situation giving birth to a good one, a flower that grew in a dark room, a caterpillar pimping a butterfly, the sinner creating the virtuous, fear shaping a life. Later on, on the track, we find him questioning whether or not he’ll live long enough to make a mark on this earth. Kendrick begins to detail the various ways in which black men have been targeted by the police and it’s no coincidence that Trayvon plays a large part in this verse. He thinks that no matter what age he is, what he wears or what he does, he still will be a victim.

It’s at this point that we start to realise that this fear, and fear itself, seems to have an effect on everything around him. It makes Kendrick question whether he can be humble enough with what he has earned or will he let his pride get the best of him. It makes him question whether his love is still there or is he beginning to lust for other things, fueled by a sense of pride. It makes him question whether he will be on this earth any longer due to his DNA as the way he is seen by police and the media: after all, the gunshot on BLOOD could mislead you into thinking it’s the woman but with the context of the album, an officer seems all the more likely.

With all it taken into consideration, DAMN and Kendrick asks you this: will fear drive you down a wicked path, falling victim to the fate that has faced many? Will you find yourself weak, surrounded by the sins our world has?

With the last track looping the album into itself, the questioning is eternal and Kendrick has made a record that will be sure to be as timeless.

9


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

SUPPORT THE SITE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

ALBUM(?) REVIEW: More Life by Drake

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)
 
Change of direction and sound is something that is always argued about in the world of music, dividing and/or bringing in new fans. Drake’s ‘More Life’ is an album that is definitely dividing audiences, possibly pushing away his older fans but bring new fans in in the thousands. More Life is a dancehall dominated playlist, influence presumably from the success of 2 of the lead singles (One Dance and Too Good feat. Rihanna) from Drake’s last album Views. The playlist also includes the moody nocturnal vibe that Drake always brings to the table.
 
 

 
The first thing that’ll attract you to More Life, besides the fact Drake is one of the biggest artists around in this modern day, was the features. Seeing names like Giggs and Skepta will bring people in from the other side of the pond, Drake representing his connection to Boy Better Know (Skepta’s record label) and it gives grime more of an opportunity to show its face in the United States. Other features that attracted me was the new voice of soul, Jorja Smith, big auto-tune rappers like Young Thug and Travis Scott and of course the infamous Kanye West.
 
Still, More Life seems very safe. Lots of singing from Drake himself, pushing his pop-rap style further into the mainstream, and lots of the beats are based off the dancehall style that he was so successful with. Some tracks are easy listening, nice to put on in the background. If I played some of these songs at a party, I wouldn’t piss anyone off. I played some of the tracks to my mum, someone who’s not a fan of anything rap, and she loved it. Not that that’s a bad thing, but considering 2 years ago songs like Energy and Legend being two huge hits from the most recent album of the time If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late shows how Drake, even 2 years down the line, has migrated most of his attention to the songs you could play in mainstream clubs.
 
Image result for drake more life
 
Regardless of this, it’s a good playlist.  Drake pulls a lot of emotion out on some of these songs, talking further into the struggles of fame on the song Do Not Disturb with lines like ‘Can’t describe what my life is like when she asks about it, scary whenever I close my eyes at night, wakin’ up to public statements about my private life’, describing how his life has got so busy he can’t even talk about what he does anymore and is also scared of public attention. Also showing heartbreak and loss on the song Lose You and the lead single from the playlist being Fake Love about fake friends.
 
The other thing that interests me about this playlist is that some of the features have their own tracks, a feature that artists like Frank Ocean and Kanye West have done on their own respected albums. Sampha and Skepta throw their own styles into the mix, which is possibly why the album is described as a playlist. In addition to this, the samples used for some of the songs are out of the blue, like some of the soundtrack from the 2006 video game Sonic The Hedgehog used in the song KMT and samples J-Lo’s ‘If You Had My Love’ on Teenage Fever’ which is slamming.
 
Overall the album has struck a chord with me more than Views did. Besides the dancehall, the album is, for the most part, darker; however some of the songs are forgetful, maybe throwing 22 songs in is stretching it a bit thin.  It does feel quite like a B-Side album of songs that didn’t make Views but it’s still pretty solid. 

7/10

BEST TRACKS: Passionfruit, 4422, Do Not Disturb, Can’t Have Everything, Blem, Fake Love and Lose You.


Bar a few filler tracks, a solid effort filled with great features and cracking production

7/10 – Jake Cordiner (@jjjaketh)

Thankfully making up for the disappointment that was Views, the variety in sound and solid features is sadly brought down by a handful of filler tracks.

7/10 – Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM

ALBUM REVIEW: SAMPHA – PROCESS

By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

The first time many encountered Sampha was way back in 2011 when his haunting vocals stood out on SBTRKT‘s Hold On and really made that track memorable. Since then his solo debut has been eagerly anticipated by many. Unfortunately there was a 6 year wait though thankfully it wasn’t through a lack of trying as Sampha was busy to say the least. An in-demand vocalist, Sampha has appeared on tracks by heavyweights such as Drake, Frank Ocean, Solange and Kanye West. While his vocals make any song skyrocket in quality, which is no wonder considering how many artists sought to get him to appear, Sampha’s debut has been brewing away like fine wine, making the past half a decade wait totally worth it.

Process is an expansive showcase of Sampha‘s vocal ability that also shows what he can do when he gets to use this ability to express his own ideas. The running theme throughout is one of loss and self-examination, which is unsurprising as Sampha lost his father when he was young and more recently his mother as well. Due to the attachment that Sampha must have had to the material, it is evident that he took a great amount of care in crafting each track, every moment has a purpose and it makes for a truly captivating listen. Right from album opener Plastic 100°C, Sampha demands attention with his powerful vocals that soar and dive spectacularly as they intertwine seemlessly with samples and piano tracks.

Sampha uses this album to show his incredible range as he commands fast-paced tracks such as Blood on Me and Kora Sings. These song can compete on an crowd-pleasing level with any of his past collaborators while also exploring complex ideas such as denial and loss. While these tracks are impressive Sampha definitely excels the most in his most simplistic moments such as on stand-out track (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano. On this testement to his late mother, he once again utilises his vocal ability to deliver a beautiful ballad that sticks in the mind throughout the rest of the album.

Each track on Process is its own idea, a carefully constructed piece of work that conveys Sampha‘s experience of tragic loss and how he has dealt with these feelings. However what makes it truly great is how each one seems to show something different and further prove that Sampha is one of the most innovative and exciting artists around. His ability to shift from a sentimental ballad to a powerful, beat-driven single seemlessly is impressive and the fact that he is so convincing at both even more so.

Process was most definitely worth the wait and with it Sampha has proven himself to be one to watch. While he’ll be even busier after this impressive portfolio of his abilities, hopefully it will not be too long until he is able to do something for himself again.

8/10

TRACK REVIEW: Chanel by Frank Ocean

By Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

Christopher Breaux, more know to the world as Frank Ocean, has once again surprised the world with more glorious music. The latest addition to his discography is the dreamy Chanel, which debuted on Apple Music’s main radio channel Beats 1 during the second episode of Ocean’s own show blonded RADIO. Played on repeat for nearly an hour, the world was shook by this sudden addition to the era of Blonde.

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, I personally feel like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. It seems Ocean has almost evolved musically in the last year, possibly influenced by the latest feature he had appeared on, Slide by Calvin Harris.

 

The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation). Layered vocals is a key focus point of Ocean’s music, giving that fuller sound and the etherial backing vocals rich with reverb drift straight through you. Lots of references about ‘new money’ and being rich also hint to the song being written post-Blonde, as he released his second album independently and made lots because of it. Ocean has more of a rapping tone to his voice for a majority of this song too which hasn’t been touched on much since Super Rich Kids from his debut album Channel Orange, which is refreshing. Some lyrics seem slightly mumbled and thrown away at some point which is the only downside, but it’s very minor. 

What Frank has always excelled at is pouring his personal life and feelings into his music without seemingly pushing it down your throat, and Chanel is no different. Back in 2012, Ocean came out as bisexual, which was a big moment for the Hip-Hop/RnB scene, also having appeared in many Odd Future songs (Odd Future being known for their brash, offensive lyrics, of which sometimes included homosexual slurs), it came to a bit of a shock for the world but was followed with incredible support. 

The returning motif of the song is that Ocean “can see both side like Chanel”, referring to the Chanel emblem and hinting to his bi-sexuality. The first line “My guy pretty like a girl” is again still showing the world it’s okay to be able to talk about these issues such as homophobia, which is why many have always appreciated Ocean as an artist, as he’s not afraid to take big risks, changing the game and pushing the boundaries of conventional song writing. 

 

9/10 


CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM

Kanye West – Real Friends + No More Parties In LA TRACK REVIEW

Kanye kicks off 2016 with not one but two refreshing new tracks that amps up the hype for WAVES even more.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/blinkclyro?lang=e…

LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/blinkclyro/?…