Tyler, The Creator Takes A Huge Turn From Igor
‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ is a brilliant project that only Tyler could have put together
A Record that will get you from the start. To put this album’s brilliance in perspective, I already listened to it, front to back more than twelve times. And. enjoyed. every. moment. of it.
Tyler, the Creator, the former leader of ‘Odd Future’ and the artist who gave us two of the best albums last decade, ‘Flowerboy’ and ‘Igor’, dropped his seventh(!) album on 25th June 2021. I have a lot of thoughts, believe me, a lot of them. But, I am still confused. Let us begin.
Overall Sonic Overview
I separated the sonic and lyrical overview because they are very different on this project, let me begin with the sonic. Sonically, this is Tyler’s best project yet, without a doubt. Out of the sixteen tracks, fourteen are ‘songs’ and out of those, I have added fourteen to my playlist. Yes, there are one or two tracks that probably shouldn’t be there, but I am telling facts here.
Every song has a brilliant instrumental on it and obviously, most of them have spoken word. That being said, that is not a surprise, we saw what he can do instrumentally on his previous albums, the most heartwarming(?) thing is that he combines every sound he is famous for, experimented with, or is good at, in this project, many times in a single song, too. He took his smooth grooves from Igor, insane production and sampling from Flower boy, brilliant delivery from his earlier projects, and put the best part of all of them into this monster of a project.
This is not purely a hip-hop album, if you wanted that, first of all, you surely did not expect that from Tyler? This is an almost blend of experimental hip-hop, r&b, reggae, jazz, spoken word, and acid rap. No, I am not making this up. Reggae, jazz, and acid rap in one album. While it is not rare for hip-hop and r&b to share artists, Anderson .Paak and Pharell(who has a brilliant feature on this btw) are examples, it certainly rare for one song to have prominent elements of both.
As you can tell, I am very impressed, now read this: so this album is sonically connected much more than it is lyrically. One instrumental, and sometimes even vocals, flow into the next song smoothly, before phasing out. Imagine the sax at the end of ‘Wesley’s Theory’ and at the start of ‘For Free’, just add a bit of ‘Taxman comin’ ’ at the start of ‘for Free’. That would be wild! But somehow, Tyler pulls it off brilliantly. This is a singles’ track meant to be listened to from front to back. You heard it here first folks. Also, for anyone getting confused at the two songs I mentioned earlier, they are the first two tracks from ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar.
This is what confused me. If I was to rate the instrumentals, this album is a 10/10, easily. Lyrically? I am not so sure. Thematically? I am confused between 7 and 10. Let me show you how.
I believe that this album, lyrically and thematically, is two things, three things actually.
- Tyler, the creator, as a whole. Everything he believes thinks and wants.
- Imagining the experiences he has on day to day basis. Talking(and stalking) girls, but more importantly, travelling. Travelling is one of the more consistent themes on the album.
- Nothing. This album is what Tyler wanted to do as a younger version of himself, maybe ending up in Cherrybomb. This is a much better version of that. He wanted to fuse his favourite sounds and create something he wants to and did it. How would I guess it? Tyler proclaimed this on Twitter.
Now that my perspective is clear on this album both sonically and lyrically, the track reviews will be easy and small, right? Well, far from it. Even though this album has a bit lesser of a central theme, every song has so much to discuss that I am afraid this post will be too long. Let us begin, anyway.
Track by Track Discussion
The first song from the album starts with this line: ‘The Sun Beaming’. Woah! I thought this was a summer album, but it(album) took so many weird turns that I can’t tell what season is going on right now. The lines point to the fact that he has been travelling a lot and he is currently in Geneva. By the way, do you know about a beach in Geneva? I don’t think there’s one.
As for the instrumentals, the most prominent thing is the constant dark arpeggio in the background. That really sets the tone. Also, the outro, where he calls the name of the record, which happens at one point in almost every song, is brilliant.
Apparently, Tyler is behind this girl(So he is bi, and not gay, which is fine, I never noticed.) who is also being pursued by another man. She chooses the other man and this song is just that whole journey. He brags about the things he bragged to her, to get her. Because of this, he bought ‘emotions’ and a boat, because he prefers to cry in the ocean. AKA Crying in the shower turned to 11.
Instrumentally, there are plenty of details, but the 808’s are really going hard here. The ‘other-other-other-other-other’ is absolutely brilliant. It really is.
It is not exactly clear what this song about. For some time I felt this is about the other man that he lost to. I am not sure anymore. Instrumentally, this is one of the more generic ones, and the 42 Dugg feature barely adds anything.
The sung/spoken outro is the best part, by far. They are too smooth together.
Speaking of smooth, I present you Wusyaname. Just a song about Tyler’s first date with a girl where they fantasize travelling around Europe, watching movies at the cannes festival, sitting and talking, going to concerts all in one song. The main purpose is to ask name, though. Yes, of course, it is r&b. Where would you get these over-the-top lyrics?
The details on this song require a full post. For now, focus on the beat breaks, and the ad-libs on this one. It is a brilliantly put-together song, showcasing how far he has come, production-wise.
We got this before the album, so pretty much everyone knows about this track. The start is hilarious. He starts with the hook but stops to tell a story of his mother’s reaction when he got out of a Rolls Royce, which is fine, but hilarious more than it sounds. He also throws in a conscious line about slavery in there:
they backs out
But do not let that distract you from the instrumentals. Because this thing is a banger. Like ‘i’ from To Pimp A Butterfly, this is the one to appeal to most people, although his most people will be significantly lesser than ‘i’, because this is, after all, a track that goes very hard, with a heavy beat and vocals. The best moment on the track, however, is the ‘hooood’.
They are back in Geneva, and just chilling on the beach, and well…hot wind blows. Stupid, right? Wrong. They are in a yacht, why am I mentioning this? You’ll get to know soon enough. Travelling as a theme continues, and she now is with him, I don’t know why. And Lil Wayne! That is some weird feeling when you like something that includes Lil Wayne. First, one of his best guest verse, and then the end of the same, when he says ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Mula’. Yeah, that got me. Also the sample here? That is one impressive sample, almost feels like they are parodying it, in the best way imaginable.
The instrumental on this is on another level. The flute, the beat, the sample, everything is brilliant about it, much like most other songs on this album, honestly.
So… remember how I told you that the details on ‘Wusyaname’ deserve a post? Well, the lyrics on this song deserve that. There are numerous references, it is largely reflective, while also sounding great.
I will touch on the things I found the most interesting. In the beginning, he says puberty hit him at 23, four years after he left LA for the first time, and that was also why Cherry Bomb was so…shaky. Also, to reference puberty and its similarities to metamorphosis, he drops this one:
That Caterpillar went to cocoon —
do you get me?
There was also a beat pause between those lines. Not the wittiest line I have seen, but I laughed, mostly because of the beat pause, which is surprisingly common in this project. Another reason this line is important is that just the next sentence, he talks about how Skateboard P gave him a three-hour speech in Italy, and by hour three, he had turned into a butterfly, transformed, if you will. Also, the usage of ‘um’ is fantastic. That transformation caused him to release ‘Flowerboy’. Towards the end, he also talks about the drum breaks that I have been mentioning. There’s so much more… Imma have to make a decision here. Go and read the lyrics yourself. Here is the link. Also, Fantano might give it a 10, he became vegan.
The faint spoken word in the start is brilliant, and the horns, too. But, somehow, this is my least favourite cut-off of the record. And it makes me sad because the best parts are just about to come. I hope nobody leaves the album because of this track.
See! I said great tracks are coming. This is one of my favourites from the tracklist. Just to prove my point, here’s the start:
Lil’ white b*tch gon’ say
“You need to say something about that”
“You need to say something ‘bout black-”
B*tch, suck my —
Now that I have officially proved it to be one of the best intros ever, let us dive deeper. Tyler takes into hand many topics, including religion, racism and Tyler’s way to, and success itself. He also mentions that he was cancelled before the cancellation happened online, on Twitter. That…is true. He was Lil Nas X before him, and better artistically, just not poppy.
He also mentions how he beefed with Selena Gomez because he wanted to… well, um… get himself Beiber for a few hours. Yeah. He also said he is proud of it, so I guess it's fine for me to write it. He returns to the topic of people’s expectations for him, as a black, transgender celebrity, but this time more from a practical standpoint, at least trying to make an impact. This is a masterpiece, and as I predicted on Twitter, one of his songs would be much like ‘The Blacker The Berry’, and here it is.
No, I did not make up that title. About the track itself, it might be the objectively best on the album. Also, the longest, at 9 minutes 48 seconds. Take that, Martin van Soest(I am joking, sorry).
Let us now really get to the track. It has two parts, as you can tell from the title, and they could be titled exactly what they are. The first part starts off with a skit, with the same girl, he asks that girl to come with him, by making something up to the other guy. We are asked ‘Still on the boat?’. Well, you didn’t take us with you, did you? The first part is a super-condensed r&b love jam with weirdly autotuned vocals that sound immaculate. The hook reads:
“But God gotta know he might have peaked when he made you
The cosmos’ only mistake is what they named you (What do you mean?)
They should call you sugar, you so sweet.”
Only in r&b can we see such lines. The synth, which is not one of my preferred instruments, absolutely slaps here. Some details you might miss:
- Before the first bridge in the song, he whispers, ‘Uh, go to the bridge thing.’
- There are three bridges in the song, you might think an average song is 3 minutes long, three times, 9 minutes, three bridges! Well, you’d be wrong. A bridge, single one, is hard to make. You need to transition into and out of the bridge, create a completely different vibe during it, using a different set of instruments, or just going on a different key, which he did once here.
Anyway, this also sounds like ‘Time Alone With You’ by Jacob Collier in some respects, but they are definitely more different than alike. Let us move to the second part of the song. A spoken word segment transitions into the second part, and it changes so drastically that you will be left open-mouthed when you pay attention to the details. How some instruments phase out, then how some instruments, very similar in timbre to the vocals get added, without causing any discomfort to your ear. It’s genius. It is a reggae-dancehall song with literal meme-like sound effects every now and then. Near the 7:20 mark, the switch in tempo(and a bridge) is also a fantastic highlight on the song.
This is an interlude that contains her mother talking over a pretty summer instrumental. It’s hilarious, revealing and beautiful.
‘Rise’ has a few seconds of momma talk, in the beginning, to connect them sonically, which also meant he had to transition that into an almost vintage hip-hop sound, which he did brilliantly. I’m getting Kendrick’s verse on Control vibes here, honestly. He talks about the why’s of his success. He says he is the best because he is not generic, he’s got the talent and vision. Well, he’s got a point, but not the best in my opinion.
The rest of the song doesn’t seem to have a distinct path, but it sounds just as good as most others. The hook is a little underwhelming, but the instrumentals during the verses and the chorus make up for it.
This is another, and last, interlude. In this one, he talks about him being, you guessed it, blessed. He is grateful for everything, except his hair, which isn’t growing enough according to him. Great.
One of the most dynamic songs in the album, also one of the most danceable. I knew this just by reading the title, though, so let us dive a little deeper. The Tyler verse(which is the chorus) on this sounds eerily similar to Justin Beiber’s verse on ‘Popstar’ by DJ Khaled. Yeah, this sounds much better. Lil Uzi is dropping one of his better verses, too.
The best verse on this, though, is Pharell’s. I never thought the person who gave us ‘Happy’ was capable of one-liners, and yes, I know he was on ‘Alright’, but this is different. A full two verse feature, and a good one, is not very common. The instruments are good, but I don’t think there’s any special quality I just can’t wait to listen.
The second-longest song, at 8:35, is very much a longer and a little less interesting version of ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst’. Don’t get me wrong, this is great for the first six minutes, but then it drags a bit. Especially because he designed this to be an earworm. The beat just registers itself and doesn’t leave until the end.
As I alluded to before, I was not so big on ‘Igor’. This song, I have heard some people say, is the condensed form of that story, which is fine, but it doesn’t interest me much. while the song plays in the background, let us contemplate this: Is this album a prequel to ‘Igor’? All the songs up until this were him trying to get this girl, and now he got her, then there was a celebratory song in ‘JUGGERNAUT’ and now the whole story of ‘Igor’. So, Safari should be carrying it forward, right? I don’t know, because I don’t remember ‘Igor’’s story.
I won’t listen to a whole album just to get the geist, so let me explain you what is happening in this song. The girl he talked about before, yeah she’s still with that man, but whenever he’s not there, they meet. Obviously, Tyler knows he’s not doing this right. But, he can’t help it. The girl then tells the other man the truth, and there was a huge fight it seems, but he then understands that the girl had been playing all along, and yet he cannot accept it. Yes, this is very basic, but it is presented very systematically. In the end, he resolves, however, and that leads into the next song.
Also, there’s one moment here that he explains his joke, which really wasn’t that funny, but made me laugh because of the explanation. I won’t ruin it for you. Remember that he mentions ‘Driving with no destination’.
I told you to remember that, the first line of this song: “Destination: Remote”. At least he knows it now. The instrumental starts like ‘Hot Wind Blows’, but then sax enters and the bass is enhanced, and gradually it becomes a banger. That is some next-level production. This is all about travelling after the last song resolved the other theme of the project. BRILLIANT. I am in awe of the way it concludes. Yes, the instrumentals are great, Tyler switches up the delivery in his two verses, and weirdly enough, the fact that it doesn’t go as hard as you’d expect, it leaves you wanting more. That may or may not cause you to listen again.
So… that was something. Look, I think I get it now. This is the culmination of his two desires: Travelling and love. He wants to travel around the love, but can live and die in one house if the girl is with him. Then, there are a few bangers unrelated to these, which makes me think this is Tyler. This is the kind of project people self-title. I think Tyler wanted to create a whole experience, and thus named it ‘Call me if you get lost’. This project is also the culmination of all that he has wanted to do, and the lessons he’s learnt, not only musically, but also as a person.
This, in my opinion, will be a strong contender for the album of the year, and possibly the decade. I would predict a light to decent 9 from Fantano, but I really don’t know. Anyway, let me know your thoughts on this one, and hey! I have a newsletter now! It will be a monthly email, a kind of monologue about literature, writing, philosophy, and music, linking the articles I found most useful. It will be delivered on the 19th of every month. Do Subscribe if you are interested.
That’s it then!