Tyler, The Creator grows as a musician and a flower (metaphorically) on his fourth album.Columbia , 2017
8.0 / 10
An alternate title for Tyler, The Creator‘s fourth album is Scum Fuck Flower Boy rather than just Flower Boy. But at the end of the day, Flower Boy is the title. And there are references aplenty to flowers and blooming and growth. Where does Scum Fuck ever play into the mix, unless it’s just Tyler being Tyler. The rapper, who once gave us the blistering and vulgar album, Goblin. Well, that Tyler is hardly a presence on Flower Boy.
Instead, this is a gentler, softer Tyler, The Creator, who may or may not be coming out of the closet on this album. If so, I applaud his honesty and decision to do so, but honestly, who knows with this guy? He likes creating controversy for the sake of doing so. Call him a troll (or maybe a goblin). But what matters most about Flower Boy is how it stacks up as an album. And it does so very well. Maybe even as the best Tyler, The Creator album to date.
Now, before we continue, I must admit that Flower Boy is my first listen to Tyler, The Creator since Goblin. John Downey covered his two albums in between — Wolf and Cherry Bomb. So, to me, Flower Boy is a dramatic progression that I didn’t expect. Tyler seems to be taking much inspiration from his buddy Frank Ocean, and that’s a very good thing. Tyler even shows off his own singing skills (a tremendous falsetto) on “See You Again”. It’s probably the album’s best cut. Here, he teams up with Kali Uchis and both give tremendous performances in a song that could be about Tyler’s love for another man. He sings, “Anytime I count sheep/ That’s the only time we make up/ You exist behind my eyelids, my eyelids/ I don’t wanna wake up.”
On songs like “See You Again” and “Garden Shed” (the one with all the buzz), the sentiment is tender and the music is sensual. It feels closer to R&B than the rap Tyler is known for. But, then again, he’s never been a typical rapper. Still, Flower Boy has its classic Tyler moments. On “Who Dat Boy”, he teams up with A$AP Rocky over a melody mixing horror movie synths and strings. Tyler’s growl is at its most rumbling as he throws out hooks like, “Fuck global warming, my neck is so frío/ I’m currently lookin’ for ’95 Leo.” Later, he teams up with Lil Wayne on a fast one-minute song, “Droppin’ Seeds”, where Lil Wayne even sounds vital. I guess one-minute is the appropriate dose of Lil Wayne in the year 2017.
Perhaps most striking about Flower Boy is how honest it sounds. Rather than playing up a twisted persona, Tyler sounds human with real emotions. He expresses his loneliness on “911 / Mr. Lonely”, a fantastic collaboration with Frank Ocean. Then, on “November”, he runs through all of his fears, one even concurring with Kendrick Lamar’s thoughts from his song, “FEAR”. Tyler pushes them out of his head while thinking back to the best moment in his life. Surely, this album could be such a memory or at least one for listeners, who have followed Tyler from the beginning.