Tyler, the Creator’s fourth studio album, “Scum Fuck, Flower Boy,” magnifies his authenticity and angst-filled youthfulness while also demonstrating the weaknesses he still struggles to correct during the creative process.
Tyler has a long history of intentionally and unintentionally pissing people off. Some read into his “unprincipled” attitude as being an edgy gimmick just to garner attention. His infamous view on what words are and are not homophobic or racist, not just in his music but in his everyday life and on social media, has pulled his artistic integrity into question before. However, the thing “Flower Boy” says more than anything else is that Tyler is more than just a cockroach-eating goblin. In fact, Tyler is actually an extremely pleasant human-being on this record, staying away from slander while giving us a glimpse into his internal conflict with coming-out.
The second track of the album, “Where This Flower Blooms,” illustrates Tyler’s feelings on his rag-to-riches story and really grounds him to earth. He reminisces about times when he had to sleep on the floor and repo-men would come knocking for furniture from rent-a-center. The juxtaposition of this is revealed when he is thinking about those kinds of things now, while he’s driving his expensive car in California. After a short transitional track, comes a beautiful love-song about Tyler’s yearning for this fictional boy he’s been infatuated with for so long. Kali Uchis’ vocals on the chorus captures Tyler’s impatience and frustration on his wait for the “one.”
These are shockingly mature and introspective themes for Tyler to be exploring; not to say Tyler hasn’t explored things like that before but for him to go in on these themes for entire tracks, and even the majority of the record, shows a dedication to something more than what is the equivalent of teenage, mall-hooliganism on the mic. It is an impressive growth for Tyler.
A lot of what drives this change-of-heart comes from the serious challenge coming-out to the world poses for Tyler. He’s now trying to understand himself and how the world will perceive him after he reveals this. The web he’s caught in directly stems from his prior comments on gay-slurs and racist remarks. The way he fights through it is by imagining being able to contact his dream-boy, hence all of the references to phone calls and voicemails littered throughout the album.
This is by far Tyler’s tightest record in both album length and thematic direction, with the only notable comparison being his masterpiece album, “Wolf.” Tyler has a history of meandering through his music, often times ranting on while over-blowing the track with digits of songs within songs. This same issue has clearly been recognized and worked through on this album only showing up occasionally with some annoying sound bites.
The track “I Ain’t Got Time” really throws off the album’s flow by becoming an explosive, braggadocious track in the middle of some of the most gentle records in the album. He’s obviously trying to force a juxtaposition between the prior track, “Boredom,” both in the somber-to-bombastic sound but in the lyrical ideas of time and his lack there of when he’s out bragging, but abundance of time when he’s alone with his thoughts. It’s a cute idea but it kills the gorgeous mood he dedicated the album to create.
The production on this record is not only trendy with the inclusion of cool-jazz elements but it pushes those trends while also maintaining his signature wobbly-beat. One of the biggest earaches Tyler has given me on previous records was his singing but he must have seen a vocal instructor or been practicing because he’s become much, much better. He knows it’s one of his weakness and uses it sparingly with his clearest cut being on the transitional track “Sometimes…”
The overall theme of his record, although interesting, is inherently simplistic in nature which makes me skeptical of how this album will be viewed 10 years later as something more than just a Tyler, the Creator album. He also over uses references to an effect that makes some of his lyricism seem lazy, often times referencing his own music as if it were an inside joke. Not to say his lyrics are bad, because they are far from it. In fact, the lyrics employ many poetic tricks.
Tyler clearly put a lot of thought into the making of this record and the dedication has paid in dividends. Although he still suffers in some areas he makes up for it with trend-setting production and witty, world-building. Although one of his best albums, “Flower Boy” finds itself in hard spot in the context of rap in this decade and in the decades to follow. His technical shortcomings and tendency to lose focus hurt the record. I rate “Flower Boy” as a 7.2/10.
Published in The Stallion on August 9, 2017.
|What I’m looking for.||Score (0-10)||Examples of Scoring|
|Innovation||6||10- Creates entire genre.
8- Creates a new niche or sub-genre
6-pushes current genres limits
4- pushes their own limits
|Uniqueness (of either artist or album)||8||10-Never before seen (has influences still)
8-More than 3 unique qualities including sound, person, story, ect.
6- 2 unique qualities
4-1 unique qualities
2-Lowest possible score because everyone is unique :^)
|Artist’s technical ability||6|
|Production||10||10- Perfect Balance
5- Over-produced more than not (or even under produced)
0- Sounds horrible
|Theme||8||10-powerful theme throughout
5-theme but kinda sucks
0-no theme or organization
|Length/Flow of Album||5||10-Songs reinforce each other, album isn’t hard to listen to, and the transitions are smooth/appropriate
5- 2 of those thing
0-none of these things
|Longevity||6||How relevant will it be in 5, 10, 25 years.|
|Personal Enjoyment||8||10-peak enjoyment
1-Couldn’t hate album more