Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Tyler, the Creator’s 2017 project “Flower Boy” was undoubtedly a project that displayed the artist’s growth and maturity as a musician and person. Themes of loneliness, materialism, insecurity and navigating relationships made it the notable and widely beloved album it is today.
After posting a few song snippets featuring heavily synthesized and glitchy production, on May 6, Tyler, the Creator announced that his sixth studio album would be titled “IGOR” and fans would have access to the album May 17. Tyler also made it clear in a Twitter post during the hours leading up to the project’s release not to compare this album to any of his past ones, and after listening to the project in its entirety, one can’t deny that “IGOR” has a sound and style unlike any of his previous releases.
“IGOR’S THEME” is the first song on the album and it does an exceptional job at setting the tone for the project. The immediate haunting sound of a one sustained note with some drum instrumentation following is a somewhat new sound for Tyler. A surprise in the form of Lil Uzi Vert singing on the hook greets fans. His voice sounds childish and whimsical, and with the beat changing into a familiar sound from “Flower Boy,” the vibe of this project is successfully set.
It doesn’t take long for themes of heartbreak and unrequited love to rear their heads on this project. Tyler utilizes his singing voice more on this album than ever before to truly convey this sense of deep emotion and directionlessness. He struggles trying to understand why his lover won’t return his feelings, and the sheer weight of his lyrics and voice expresses this. He drowns in desperation for reciprocated love and doesn’t care who knows it, despite his vocal chops not being exactly spectacular.
The majority of songs are slow burners that feature Tyler and his guests vocalizing over glittery, pretty beats that are sometimes heavily synthesized with organic-sounding instruments such as guitars and drums. The listener can’t help but feel sorry for Tyler on songs such as “PUPPET” where he sings to his lover, “I'm your puppet, you control me / I'm your puppet, I don't know me (Did I wait too long?).” The sound of the synthesized tunes throughout nail the theme of hopelessly putting one’s emotions into the hands of someone they have strong feelings for.
“RUNNING OUT OF TIME” is one of the slower, more peaceful songs off “IGOR.” It opens with Tyler singing, “Runnin' out of time to make you love me” repeatedly, which incompases the feeling this song represents: knowing that a person and their partner will be leaving each other very soon. Tyler asks his lover, “take your mask off.” This line adds to the prevailing worry that his partner is hiding their true self from him.
“A BOY IS A GUN” uses a similar line in the form of “take your hoodie off, why you hide your face from me?” Tyler begs his partner not to “shoot him down” and take his love to someone else, which is a metaphor that takes form in other moments on the album.
In the midst of various heart-wrenching songs, Tyler finds himself going down a path of aggression and twistedness during a few songs on “IGOR,” namely “WHAT’S GOOD” and “NEW MAGIC WAND.” Glimpses of the “old Tyler, the Creator” make appearances on these songs through his hostile lyrics and hard-hitting rap style. “WHAT’S GOOD” is an entertaining song that lives up to its title with its confrontational lyrics such as “n----s turning it up, well, shit, I'm tearing it down.” The beat-switch is executed well and gives Tyler an opportunity to display his fast rapping abilities. “NEW MAGIC WAND” is centered around his desire to wish his lover’s new partner away and serves as a clear expression of jealousy.
The last few songs on “IGOR” deal with Tyler coming to terms with the end of the relationship he fought so hard for. “GONE GONE / THANK YOU” is the most mature song off the project and features him appreciating all the memories he and his partner shared. “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” serves as the last farewell to the love expressed on this album and sees him moving into a brighter future. Finally, “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” is a gorgeously produced, all-around grand song that serves the last track on “IGOR,” with Tyler pondering if he and his former lover can still be in each other’s lives. The guitar riffs and bold synths are the perfect backdrop to his powerful vocal performance and these elements come together to create a song that is definitely a high point on the album as a whole.
Guest performances from the likes of Playboi Carti, Santigold, Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell Williams pair well with the vibe each song “IGOR” brings to the table. The love story Tyler, the Creator presents to fans is both an emotional and entertaining one. While this project may leave some fans with more questions than answers with the conclusion of the album, that’s where Tyler’s appeal comes in. He’s earned his spot as one of the most interesting acts in hip-hop music to date and “IGOR” only solidifies this fact.
Contact Julian Denizard at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.