FLOWER BOY REVIEW
A LONG CAR JOURNEY
If you’re an avid listener of alternative Hip-Hop you’ve probably heard a handful of music from Odd Future ringleader Tyler, The Creator. His breakout project Bastard marked the start of a revolution in alternative Hip-Hop which would go on to propel the now defuncted Odd Future wolf gang to superstar status from 2009 to 2013. Despite the group's array of talented musicians and wide catalogue of music ranging from Jazz to alternative hip-hop, it was the music and antics of Tyler which made the group such polarizing figures in popular culture. Whether it was eating cockroaches, inciting riots or using homophobic language both Tyler and Odd future always managed to stay relevant gaining more and more attention each year. This was until the group's stability began deteriorating from 2014 onwards, leading to a weird limbo state where fans and music critics alike questioned whether the group was still together despite certain members venturing off collaborating with artists outside the Odd Future collective. Notably Both Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirts 2015’s albums ‘Cherry bomb’ and ‘I don’t like shit, I don’t go outside’ featured no fellow odd future members. The last nail in the coffin to certify the demise of Odd future came from Tyler, The Creator himself when he tweeted ‘Although it’s no more, those 7 letters are forever’ referring to the group's abbreviated name (OFWGKTA) in May 2015. The more successful members of the collective have gone on to produce great albums which show their growth not only as rappers but musicians. The internet’s (Syd and Matt Martians group) 2015 album ‘Ego Death’ received a Grammy nomination for best urban contemporary album, Earl Sweatshirt continues to improve as an artist certifying his place as one of this generation greatest lyricists and Frank Ocean’s long-awaited Avant Gard ‘Blonde’ was arguably one of if not the best album of 2016. It seems that time has really allowed certain members to mature as artists and find their sound. However, the most growth comes from the group’s leader Tyler.
2017’s Flower boy is undoubtedly Tyler’s greatest album to date. Not only is it leaps and bounds better than his 2015 effort Cherry Bomb it's better than anything his produced since 2000's Bastard. Tyler’s always had an impressive knowledge and apperception for music outside of Hip-Hop. From his love of Roy Ayers, Boys to Men, Pharrell and Erykah Badu his defiantly one of Hip-Hops most musically educated rappers. However, it wasn’t until 2013’s Wolf that you could start hear more of Tyler’s non-hip-hop influencers in his music. Flower boy continues this theme but on a larger scale, combining everything from Jazz, alternative rock, soul, RnB and hip-hop for an immerse first listen which guides the listeners through a bright, interactive landscape. Maybe it’s his growth in maturity or hunger but Tyler is more focused on this album. He's able to deliver a concept throughout 14 tracks without resulting to crude, toilet humour or distributing stories of rape and violence. Although stories of rape played into the storyline he attempted to string together on earlier bodies of work, it seems that Tyler’s left that alter-ego behind. His more transparent about his relationship with fame, girls, money and friends. Flower boy is a long car journey through a sunflower field where the listener is personally driven by Tyler whilst experiencing an array of emotions. From ecstatic happiness, occasional paranoia, deep love to genuine loneliness.
Tracks like November and 911 Convery a more vulnerable side of Tyler, a side which shows his insecurities, worries and doubts about the life is currently living. Stressing about potentially going broke and losing everything, feeling lonely and taken advantage of and even wanting to go back to happier time in his life. The hard-hitting ‘I ain't got time’ is a well-deserved stunting moment for Tyler that shows why his one of hip-hops most diverse creatives. Bragging about throwing his annual Camp Flog Gnaw carnival and discussing seven-figure deals with converse. Garden shed is Tyler at his most zenned out. The simple drum beat underneath the beautiful Rhode cords make for a peaceful, slow track which again shows Tyler opening open about his feelings and even possible hints towards his sexuality. The dark, dramatic Pothole shows Tyler at his most paranoid state recalling stories of his mother telling him not to trust anyone whilst rapping about feeling superior to his peers through not conforming to trends. It’s at this point in the car journey that the weather changes from clear and sunny to heavy rain and dark clouds. Depending on the way you chose to look at the album ‘Foreword, dat boy, pothole and November’ could be interrupted as the heavy rain after the sunshine. Boredom is the rainbow appearing above the clouds, the calm after the storm. Rex Orange county delivers a great vocal performance alongside Anna of the North which complements the mellow, angelic instrumental. Despite its short length ‘Droppin seeds’ is one of the more hip-hop oriented songs, with Lil Wayne spitting an amazing sixty-second verse over a bubbly, sweet-sounding instrumental. The goofy, yet adorable Glitter shows Tyler at his most loving. Rapping about a girl his clearly in love with. As on previous songs in his discography, Tyler pitches his vocal up which surprisingly adds to the cutest of the track, however, it does come off a bit corny at times. The latter of the track is incredible. It's only when Tyler slows down the beat and lowers his voice that it becomes soothing, slick and genuinely tranquil. It becomes something you can slowly sway to whilst zoned out. The 8-bit synths and heavy bass lines makes it sound like a weird 80’s soul track. ‘Enjoy right now, today’ is the end of the car journey, the realisation although you dream of going back to earlier times in your life, you should always enjoy the present and keep moving forward. Through the sunshine and showers, you can still prevail.
Hopefully, Tyler continues to remain focused and delivers another album which showcases how talented he is not only as rapper but as overall musician.