The first time I encountered Tyler the Creator was on a YouTube Video. A pre-incarcerated, carbohydrate rich Gucci Mane was performing “Photoshoot” when Tyler started dancing and was abruptly choked, manhandled, and thrown off the stage. Within a few minutes he was on stage again violently head banging until he threw himself into a sea of humanity to crowd surf. That moment is indicative of Tyler’s career. A free spirited, brutally honest, talented, judgement resistant artist; who has relied on a spoonful of shock value to make the music go down. Until now.
The leader of the “Loiter Squad” presents his third release “Flower Boy”. At first listen the drastic change in production style grabs your attention. These aren’t your standard Logic Pro or Fruity Looped manufactured tracks with quantized percussion. The sound of this project feels like Tyler who produced the entire album ingested Anderson Paak and sampled “The Internet” with a few exceptions. It’s smooth, it’s dreamy, slightly jazz influenced and pleasantly lackadaisical.
“Flower Boy” begins with “Foreword.” Tyler expounds on excess and his battle to stay grounded over lazy guitars, a tapping synth, and wave like sounds finished by piercing ambient noises. “Where This Flowers Blooms” is an exercise in piano playing while the emcee reminisces about a past life of limited means to his current opulent lifestyle over ear bud shattering kicks, snares and simulated guitar plucks. Tyler exposes his infatuation with a significant other over a track that lullabies you with hand clap high hats that maneuver to an alarming baseline on “See You Again.” Songs like “I Ain’t Got the Time” and “Who Dat Boy” are classic Tyler the Creator doing his signature boasting banter over horror movie keys and 808’s.
The minimalist produced “Potholes” achieves its goal of inducing extreme head nodding. Mr.Okonma verbally illustrates his dilemma of trying navigate life while steering clear of snakes, haters and distractors. “Garden Shed” feels like a surreal instrumental until the artist drops lyrics that the interweb mistakenly interprets as a statement about his sexuality. I’ll let you decide. The tracks “November” and “Boredom” are interesting offerings from this artist. On “November” Tyler confesses his fear of failure on drums that are native to the 1980’s B-Boy Era. “Boredom” with its relaxing background vocals is also production wise a brief hiatus from industry standard “Trap Drums” that over utilize the snare.
The jazz influenced “Dropping Seeds” not only showcases featured artists “Lil Wayne’s” hot sixteen it makes the Young Money emcee sound like he is performing spoken word. 911/Mr. Lonely is my favorite song on the album. You can’t go wrong paying a musical homage to “The Gap Band’s “Outstanding.”
Although not your typical Tyler, the Creator record, “Flower Boy” displays his depth, maturity, and superior rhyme style. What is surprising is the level of expertise and creativity of the production.