Since his debut, Tyler The Creator was already under the spot. I remember the release in 2011 of the album Goblin and its track Yonkers that had turned all heads by its originality and its voice, the young rapper was seen as a phenomenon and a rising star. Before, his featuring with Pusha T on Trouble On My Mind released on the mixtape Fear Of God had made him known to the rap public. His first album had rather conceptual horrocore tendencies and abrasive, almost disturbing lyrics, continuing the concept of his first mixtape Bastard released two years earlier.
Since his debut, Tyler Okonma has made a remarkable place for himself in rap with critically acclaimed albums, including Flower Boy and Igor, his biggest hits. In fact, both of his albums are softer musically and less vulgar lyrically than his previous works. But Tyler is also more introspective in his latest albums, especially Igor, which tells the story of a triangular love between himself, a woman and Igor, a man, probably his alter ego, who distances him from her.
Call Me If You Get Lost is more or less a sequel to Igor where Tyler is more sincere and direct. He pushes once again the limits of political correctness. Finally, the album will tell the musical and personal evolution of the rapper and artist that he is. The passage from an anxious young kid who aims to shock with insanities to a sensitive lover with a mischievous side.
The cover is inspired, according to Tyler himself, of the passports of the early 1900s, which calls out in its concept. Tyler is about to draw up his identity, to come back on himself with an introspective album. But will he be as introspective as he claims to be? The character he will embody may allow us to doubt it.
Tyler The Creator immerses himself in the character of Tyler Baudelaire, in reference to the French poet Charles Baudelaire, author of the book of poems Les Fleurs du Mal. The parallel between Tyler and Baudelaire can be analyzed in several ways. The first is the censure that Baudelaire experienced for his vulgarity and explicit language, which is eerily reminiscent of Tyler’s early days and his famous controversies for his homophobic statements, among others. The second is Tyler’s evolution into a more sensitive and honest character that contrasts with his abrupt and rough character of his early days, the metaphor of Flowers of Evil. In this sense, Call Me I You Get Lost can be seen as a blend of the two personalities Tyler has shown on his previous albums, the pre-Flower Boy and the post-Flower Boy, the hardened rapper and the sensitive pop-rapper.
Tyler The creatorI’m on the hunt for perfect but decent is what I been on
I know she fell in love but commitment is not my end goal
And all my friends that did got too comfy, a little chubby
And that drive to make that money dried up when that nose was runny
I be talkin’ that fresh, shit, I don’t need gum (no)
Cookie crumbs in the Rolls, never no weed crumbs (no)
He ain’t talk to his bitch in three days (no)
It ain’t gotta be this way, I’m down for the threesome (woo)
The album follows a backdrop of a woman’s complicated seduction following the end of her previous relationship with the inner pain that follows. Tyler’s complexity lies in the fact that we never know if he is speaking from his heart, his character or his alter-ego, allowing him to say what he wants without being directly attacked or even judged. Yet his message comes through.
He opens with a first intro track where he introduces us to his new character SIR BAUDELAIRE on a sample of Billy Cobham’s Siesta, slightly reminiscent of Mobb Deep’s Survival of The Fittest. CORSO will take up the backdrop of the album with changes of atmosphere that provoke both tenderness and aggressive anger once past the introduction.
Overall the atmosphere gives the impression of entering a dramatic spy movie, with an alternation between romantic moments and epic bursts, very noticeable between LEMONHEAD and WUSYANAME. But the album plays almost entirely on an incessant succession of calm songs with small soft flutes and aggressive ones with rumbling basses, which raises the concept of the dichotomy of the Flowers of Evil but especially of its personality. Another example, SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE with a song oscillating between the Soul and Bossa Nova of the 70’s and its melodious songs and the earthquake MANIFESTO.
The same parallel can be made with Les Fleurs du Mal and the two personalities in Tyler’s career on musicality. There is the soft pop-rap of Igor and Flower Boy, and the grimy 90’s hardcore New York rap-inspired samples of his early albums. Even if this analogy is found in the alternation of the songs, it is found in the songs themselves with a more complexity than usually. Finally, the album draws its influences from all over, from Jazz, Soul, Bossa Nova, Pop to Reggae with an ingenious use of samples. Where Tyler excels in production, accompanied occasionally by guests, is in the mixture of influences while conversing a coherent framework. The passages between songs are noticeable and go in the direction that Tyler wants to give to the album.
Tyler The Creator is honest, he confesses his homosexual adventures on MASSA while he admits to be in love with a friend’s daughter on WILSHIRE. On BLESSED, he declares himself hurt, grateful to be in love, even without the woman of his dreams. Finally, we try to understand who Tyler is but we never know if he is talking with himself or with his character, Tyler Baudelaire. A false honesty thus which is cut of arrogance with rhymes full of boasts or shocking punchlines.
Is Call Me If You Get Lost a summary of Tyler’s career? No, but he does manage to blend elements from different periods of his career with an album in double measure. It keeps a coherence in its theme and in the sounds. A very well mastered concept at this stage of his career. He shows a double personality. Tyler is perhaps finally THE Flower of Evil.