Tyler, the Creator is a pretty polarizing figure in popular music, and it's not hard to see why. His behavior is highly erratic and often offensive, but you can't help but see his talent as an artist and producer. I was exposed to him and his collective, Odd Future, first through his album, Goblin, though I have gone back and checked out the group's back catalog. Though Earl Sweatshirt is definitely my favorite rapper in the group, Tyler has definitely produced art that earns him his place as the group's de facto leader; namely, Bastard and his production work on the Earl mixtape and many other OFWGKTA projects.
Tyler's evolution as an artist has been kind of a weird trip. With every album, his production skills have definitely improved, as well as borrowed from more genres and influences, but each release has scaled back on concept. Bastard and Goblin were both pretty conceptual, with each project being a set up as a therapy session. Wolf, his previous album, may have been more abstract, but still a conceptual prequel to the other albums. Cherry Bomb does not fit into this canon, and may be Tyler's most straight forward release due to this.
On a production stand point, unfortunately, this album is all over the place. Some songs, including '2Seater' and 'Find Your Wings' have some of the best beats Tyler has ever produced, borrowing from a R&B, soul and jazz, but some tracks, like the opener 'Deathcamp' are loaded with so much distortion and compression that Tyler's verses are barely audible. Distorted production is nothing new, but generally the vocal mixing is higher in order for the lyrics to be audible. The production might not be that bad if not for the mixing. This album, I'm assuming, is not going for shoegaze, so the vocal mixing is definitely a problem.
The vocal mixing might be an even worse problem if there were more lyrics worth hearing. Tyler has the occasional clever line, but a lot of it is more of the same (i.e. homophobic slurs, misogyny and rage). While it seems like other OFWGKTA alumni such as Earl Sweatshirt have matured their lyrical content, Tyler seems to be at the same place he was at on Bastard, just over more uneven production, and with more famous (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Pharrell), though forgettable, features.
I want to like this album more than I do, but the really uneven production, stale lyrical content, and more straight forward nature soured my opinion a little bit. I hope this is not what I can expect in the future. I'm hoping Tyler can grow up a little bit before the next album, go back to the concept (maybe the third therapy session?) and work on some more solid production like what I heard on '2Seater'. I feel like Tyler may have rushed this a little bit, because among the mediocrity, there are really some great moments here. But when compared to better OF releases from this year (I Don't Like Sh*t, Under the Influence 2), or his own previous work, it comes up a bit short.
Out of a total of five stars, I give this:
Tons of new releases coming out that I'm excited about, so I hope to be doing a lot more reviews soon. What did you think of this album? Are there albums that you are excited about? Comment and let me know.
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