Tyler, the Creator - IGOR - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tyler, the Creator - IGOR

by Tim Sentz Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-17
Tyler, the Creator - IGOR
Tyler, the Creator - IGOR

“Don’t go into this expecting a rap album,” Tyler, The Creator posted to his Twitter account weeks before his fifth studio album IGOR hit streaming services. It’s a statement that one needs to keep in mind while dissecting the latest offering from a highly controversial, but pivotal rapper of the 21st century. He’s spent the last decade fending off the offended, justifying his bouts with misogyny and homophobia – until 2017’s Flower Boy showed a new side to Tyler Okonma. With assistance from Rex Orange County, Kali Uchis, Steve Lacy, and of course Frank Ocean, Flower Boy was a reinvention for Tyler, establishing him as a force in rap and pop, and no longer just for the skater kids who liked his antics.

With IGOR, Tyler pushes it even further. Alongside his Odd Future brothers like Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler’s not content with just doing the same album over and over again, and now that IGOR is out in the world to be processed, it’s possibly his boldest statement to date. Just as he insisted, this isn’t a rap album by any means. Instead of continuing with the sounds and ideas presented on Flower Boy, IGOR goes more experimental, and we finally get a sense of who Okonma actually is. Even the credits don’t show who is on the album, leaving it in mystery as Tyler pitches his voice in multiple strands – on “RUNNING OUT OF TIME” he sounds like Frank Ocean (or is it Frank Ocean? No one knows for sure) and Tyler (nor Frank) are sharing yet. This is on purpose, removing the emphasis on collaboration and just enjoying what’s coming out. Even the Kanye West feature on “PUPPET” doesn’t overshadow what Tyler’s doing.

Production wise, IGOR is a tremendous leap forward for Tyler, he’s using guitar and synths, but this isn’t a rock or dance-pop album. All of this is solely Tyler, the Creator. On “IGOR’S THEME” his vocals come off like a younger version of himself, drenched in synthy bass and pounding beats. The huge departure from the sounds heard on previous records will throw some. This is a more mature Tyler record, one that shares more in common with Blonde and 808s & Heartbreak than Goblin or Cherry Bomb. The unfiltered Tyler makes an appearance on “I THINK,” an early highlight of IGOR. Here, Tyler questions his feelings on relationships, but ultimately “thinks he’s falling in love.” A retrospective on his life, from a guy who was born in 1991 seems weird, especially for a rapper, but it’s ultimately the driving force for so many indie rockers and folk musicians, that Tyler’s assessment on his decisions shows maturity in a time when so many don’t take responsibility for their feelings and emotions.

“NEW MAGIC WAND” crackles with heartache, “please don’t leave me” he repeats, and the addition of A$AP Rocky only compounds the emotion conveyed. “A BOY IS A GUN” isn’t an anti-gun statement, but instead a comparison between gun ownership and a bad relationship, the dangers, and responsibility necessary. Everything about IGOR just feels right at home on the album, and every track seems necessary to fully appreciate where Tyler is at in his life. There’s no need to compare to other albums as far as quality, as each can stand separate, but with IGOR, Tyler sounds otherworldly.  

As usual, the 10th track on a Tyler album is the most epic, and he continues that trend with the 2-parter “GONE, GONE/THANK YOU” which gives us both the filtered Tyler vocals in addition to raw vocals. A cast of characters present supposedly includes King Krule, Mild High Club, with CeeLo Green handling engineering. It’s a swirling and dynamic track that pulls you in multiple directions. And this is the theme of IGOR: a breakup album, full of emotional pivots, that range from depression, to pushing forward, and back again. It’s one of Tyler’s most powerful albums, and while it’ll deter some of his diehards because of the lack of rapping, it’ll open the ears of those who relate. By the time the Al Green-assisted "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?" comes around, audiences need to ask themselves if they can still be friends with this new direction. Ultimately, the answer should be "yes," because Tyler's in a new place, with a new outlook. IGOR isn't just a break up from an individual, it's a breakup from the last iteration of Tyler, the Creator. 

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