By Justin Lin
Tyler, the Creator is a 29-year-old American singer, rapper, songwriter, producer, designer, and music video director. He was first introduced into the music industry in 2007 as the co-founder of the popular hip-hop collective “Odd Future.” After the group’s split, Tyler has been working as a solo artist to this day. Having won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist (2011) and the Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist (2020), he is considered to be one of the most creative and unique artists of this generation.
On May 17, 2019, he released his fifth studio album, “Igor.” With 12 songs, the album gained 122.9 million streams, appearing at number one on the US Billboard 200 and has recently won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album (2019).
The genre of “Igor” has been controversial. Although it won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, the style of music it consists of has been more of a mixture of hip-hop/funk. It follows a more melodic style rather than a hard rap.
When asked about the voting process of the Grammys, Tyler even said, “It sucks that whenever we, and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre-bending or anything, they always put it in a rap or urban category. And I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. It’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word, to me. So when I hear that, I’m just like, why can’t we just be in pop? So I felt like — half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment.”
Aside from the question of genre, “Igor” has shown a main theme throughout the songs, which is love. The purpose of “Igor” was to tell the story of Tyler’s love relationship with a significant other from beginning to end and let the audience understand Tyler’s emotions throughout the relationship. The layout and order of the songs were made so that there was a storyline throughout the album. In the beginning, Tyler sings about his love and need for this other person. As the album goes on, it seems as if the relationship is slowly falling apart as the lover seems to be losing interest in Tyler. At the end of the album, Tyler expresses his struggles with dealing with the end of the relationship. Overall, the purpose of the album was achieved well.
Tyler’s music has certainly evolved throughout time. In 2011, Tyler released “Goblin,” which was his debut album as a solo artist. It appeared at number five on the US Billboard 200. Following that, he released “Wolf” in 2013, which was put at number three on the US Billboard 200. The album sold 89,000 copies in its first week. In 2015, Tyler released “Cherry Bomb.” With 51,000 copies sold in its first week, the album was shown to be at number four on the US Billboard 200. His fourth album, “Flower Boy,” was released in 2017, debuting at number two on the US Billboard 200 and being nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards. Each album has received a number of positive views from critics.
Tyler has shown a big theme of rejection throughout his albums, whether it’s the absence of his dad or rejection from lovers. He has expressed his way of dealing with these issues in different ways. In his early albums, Tyler’s music has shown a style of horrorcore rap, covering big controversial issues such as violence, rape, homosexuality and sexism towards women.
But throughout the years, Tyler’s music has seemed to grow, moving from horrorcore rap and hard beats to a much more lo-fi, melodic style. “Flower Boy” and “Igor” have proved that Tyler has seemed to deal with emotions in a much more mature manner.
Whatever the case is, Tyler has definitely shown himself through his music in the past. As his music continuously paints a picture on his personality and his life, fans have certainly been able to understand him more and more throughout the years.
The Top 5 Tracks on “Igor”
1. “I THINK”
“I THINK” is the third song on the album. It features singer-songwriter Solange. Tyler pours out his feelings in the song, showing his confusion about the relationship but also saying that this time he believes he is actually in good love.
Rapper Playboi Carti and singer-songwriter Charlie Wilson accompany Tyler on the second track of the album, “EARFQUAKE.” It consists of lively piano chords and heavy distorted drums. In the song, Tyler sings about his need and desire towards a significant other, and how he feels that it was his fault for the problems in the relationship.
3. “NEW MAGIC WAND”
On the sixth track on the album, “NEW MAGIC WAND,” singer Santigold and a spoken vocal from comedian Jerrod Carmichael make an appearance. In the song, Tyler is shown to be in love with a significant other, but that person seems to be more interested in their ex-girlfriend. Because of this, Tyler thinks it would be better if that ex-girlfriend was removed from both of their lives. He believes that this could happen through the use of a “magic wand.” It is not made clear whether or not Tyler is referring to a gun.
4. “A BOY IS A GUN*”
The seventh song on the album is “A BOY IS A GUN*.” Tyler could be pointing to his bisexuality in this song, describing how this specific person that he is in love with is like a gun because they could be dangerous to him.
5. “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU”
“GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” features rapper CeeLo Green and a spoken vocal from comedian Jerrod Carmichael, being the tenth song on the album. Being near the end of the album, the song seems to close up on Tyler’s love story, and essentially has two parts to it. In the first part, Tyler explains how the love that he had for his lover has disappeared. He tries to explain to that lover what they would be missing out on if they left him. In the second part, Tyler thanks his significant other for the love and time that they shared together, but also notes that he doesn’t want to go through the pain of falling in love again.
All in all, Tyler, the Creator’s “Igor” album is definitely one of the best albums of 2019. With Tyler telling the love story of his relationship with a significant other, the audience is able to understand his emotions and almost experience what he is going through as they listen through the album. With more of a nice, melodic theme but also some rap included throughout the songs, it is sure to please a big audience with different styles of taste in music. With the remarkable success of “Igor,” fans are most likely awaiting for Tyler to feed them with new music in the future.
PHOTO CREDIT: Featured image: Joshua Cheng