In 2017, Tyler, the Creator dropped his fourth studio album, “Flower Boy.” The Grammy-nominated album marked a dramatic shift in the tides of his work. He went from making gritty, angsty music controversial enough to get him banned from other countries, to a summery album which allowed him to grapple with his internal issues in a more mature way. In a sense, “Flower Boy” allowed Tyler to blossom into the type of artist he’s always hinted at wanting to be, which was less of a rapper and more of a producer. “IGOR,” Tyler’s fifth studio album, continues what “Flower Boy” started.
The album begins with the heavily synthed “IGOR’S THEME” where Tyler, assisted by Lil Uzi Vert, provides a foreboding warning that something is lurking and about to come out of the shadows. Every time Tyler utilizes the synth on the rest of the album a revelation or a darkness erupts; like on “I THINK” where deep synths stay in the background of a relatively upbeat song which allows him to reveal that he’s fallen in love and this time it may be for real. On “NEW MAGIC WAND” darker synths expel as he revels in jealousy while saying “I saw a photo, you looked joyous” serving to reveal the obsessive monster he has become. Many of the beats are reminiscent of Tyler’s idols Pharrell and Kanye West. “EARFQUAKE” specifically sounds like a mix between something Pharrell would make combined with Tyler’s own spin. While “I THINK” sounds like Kanye’s “808’s and Heartbreak,” it also interpolates elements of “Sexyback” by Justin Timberlake and Kanye’s “Stronger.”
Instead of creating a strong beat which could be looped and rapped over, he decided to meticulously construct songs in an experimental and almost patchwork fashion. Adding to this, he buries the vocals deep into the mix of music almost to the point that his guest features and his own, pitched up voice become virtually indistinguishable.
Lyrically his guest rappers don’t provide any substance to the songs they are featured on. It is glaringly obvious that Playboi Carti is only utilized on “EARFQUAKE” because of the production value his baby voice brings to the song.
Nonetheless, “IGOR” most definitely is not a rap album. It simply serves as another transition point for Tyler to come into his own as not only a musician, but also a producer. The album chronicles the somewhat relatable feeling of falling in love with someone, becoming too dependent on them, and then trying to remain friends once the love is gone and the relationship has ended. But within this, there are also tracks that really detail Tyler’s own personal growth. On the upbeat “GONE GONE/ THANK YOU” he reflects on how he is going to be fine even though his love is gone. He also makes peace with how they might not have been true to themselves further continuing his shift in perspective and way of dealing with hardship that became apparent from “Flower Boy.”
“IGOR” is another step in the right direction as Tyler is working towards becoming the type of producer and artist that he envisioned himself to be. It is a fun, experimental album that allows the listener to get a feel for Tyler’s relationship woes while simultaneously being able to experience the intricacies of his musical mind. However, “IGOR” shows there is still quite a bit of refining and growing that Tyler can do in order to nail exactly what his own sound is. It is fairly easy to see the influences Tyler’s idols have on his production style and maybe his next album will deviate from this and allow him to really come into his own. If Tyler truly wants to be the type of producer he is striving to be, he will also need to create music that can be versatile enough to fit other artists, not just himself. Still, it is exciting to trace his evolution into an even better and ambitious producer.
Verdict: “IGOR” is the smoothest album Tyler, the Creator has put out yet and he is on track to become the producer he has been striving to be. The album proves he still has quite a bit of growing to do in order to refine his own style and produce music that other musicians can be successful with as well.