Tyler, The Creator wears his name well. Not surprisingly he takes on the traits of a new character for this fifth studio album: Igor is melancholic and madly in love. Right from the start, we know that the former leader of the Odd Future collective has composed, produced and arranged this album. In his extravagant compositions, the melody slips from instrument to instrument and occasionally stops altogether, only to hit right back with a devastating hook…
In a resolutely kitsch turquoise suit, a hideous ‘bowl cut’ wig pulled firmly down on his head, the rapper still plays the nonchalant and introverted guy. This time it’s for the video Earfquake (2019). He ends up charred but retains his status as the most crooked artist on the West Coast… On the pale pink album cover for Igor, the Californian’s expression – eyes half-closed, teeth silver and tinted with jet black – hints at the monumental slap we’ll get listening to the opus. We come up for air after this new album completely groggy, nothing else has any flavour.
An eternal adolescent, Tyler, The Creator provokes and rejects the American marketing codes in videos with varying degrees of trashy aesthetics.
“Earfquake” by Tyler, The Creator.
Tyler Okonma announced: “It’s not Wolf . It’s not Cherry Bomb . It’s not Flower Boy . It’s IGOR. Don’t throw yourself in expecting to hear a rap album. Don’t throw yourself in expecting to hear any other album. Just throw yourself into it.” Dense and luxuriant, Igor, never suffocates us. With a bewildering intensity, placid then suddenly volcanic, this album is built like a love affair: it introduces itself (Igor’s theme), seduces (Earfquake), makes us tremble (Running Out of Time), sweat (I Think) then gently hugs us (Are We Still Friends). It's implicit with a 1990s nostalgia.
Just like a Kendrick Lamar or a Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator has understood that rap has gone beyond the era of freestyle and pure technique.
In Igor’s twelve sizzling tracks, we discover Tyler, The Creator’s affection for Dr Dre’s gangsta rap. But he confuses the listener by deploying a chunky and saturated synthetic bass, soulful ballads from the 1960s and explosive percussions (I Think) following in the footsteps of Kanye West’s Fade. Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Blood Orange…There are numerous featurings on these twelve introspective tracks, we suspect there’s even some Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. On the musical platforms, no one has been credited.
“Gone, Gone \ Thank You” by Tyler, The Creator
From 2009, on his first mixtape entitled Bastard, Tyler, the Creator abandoned the syncopated character of rap, an irregular rhythm inherited from the funk of the 1970s. Instead he prefers exuberant synthesizers, ready to limit the interventions of his gravelly voice. Criticized for his recurrent use of the ultra-pejorative term "fagot" and his misogynistic tracks, the Californian has depicted violence against women several times. An eternal adolescent, he provokes and rejects the American marketing codes in videos with varying degrees of trashy aesthetics. We remember the video Who Dat Boy (2017) - with his friend of always A$AP Rocky - in which he sports a white face. A video far from the sweet colours of After the Storm (2018) by Kali Uchis and in which he also participates. Well before his Flower Boy of 2017, this 28-year-old graphic designer, director and screenwriter was already defending an eccentric and fabulous music.
Just like a Kendrick Lamar or a Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator has understood that rap has gone beyond the era of freestyle and pure technique. Here, the instrumentation takes precedence over the famous flow. An outstanding musician, this artist often takes refuge behind a character, but rarely behind a beatmaker. A long term outsider yet to be fully rewarded, Tyler, The Creator has perhaps found his masterpiece in Igor.
Igor by Tyler, The Creator, available.
“I Think” by Tyler, The Creator.