Saturday, 30 December 2017

Album Of The Year 2017: 1. Tyler, The Creator - Flower Boy


Not only has Tyler, The Creator taken WIIHAMB's Album of the Year slot for 2017, the rapper is also my artist of the year. Upon the release of Cherry Bomb two years ago I was prepared to stan, ready to hear my new favourite record. I came away in love with 'Fucking Perfect' and a big fan of 'Deathcamp' but that was all. With that in mind, an album that took the ideas behind those two tracks and built upon them was literally all I could have asked for. And that's what we got on GRAMMY nominated Flower Boy.

There's a lot of speculation currently that Tyler's next record will be a "pop album" but it's baffling that anybody would think Flower Boy isn't already a pop album. In much the same way as I discussed about Brockhampton yesterday, Tyler has developed the ability to direct his album to the point where is hits the mark across pop, R&B and hip hop with seemingly little to no effort. On track two of Flower Boy, 'Where This Flower Blooms', Tyler not only talks about his growth and blossoming personally but also within his music and musical style. Where on Cherry Bomb so many of the tracks (Find Your Wings, Blow My Load) feel like overworked interludes, every track on Flower Boy feels like a song, even including album closing instrumental 'Enjoy Right Now, Today'.

An unavoidably clear observation of both Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy is the plethora of featured artists. On the former, these guests were littered throughout and made tracks feel oversaturated and unnecessarily complex. In contrast, every feature on Flower Boy fits each song perfectly, adding dynamics to the tracks yet never overshadowing Tyler himself. On 'Who Dat Boy', Tyler and A$AP Rocky take it in perfect turns on the verses, making for a seamless collaboration. Personally, Kali Uchis' vocals on 'See You Again' make for the best guest performance on the record. Her voice juxtaposing againt Tyler's sung vocals gives us a really raw sounding love song. Syd is an interesting vocal omission from Flower Boy considering her presence on Cherry Bomb; instead the only former Odd Future member we hear from is Frank Ocean (on '911/Mr. Lonely' and 'When this Flower Blooms'. Due to my sheer hatred of Lil Wayne, 'Droppin' Seeds' is the only track I don't like on this alum but as it clocks in at a mere 60 seconds I've found just pretending it doesn't exist is a great solution.

I guess what took me by surprise the most about Flower Boy was that I wasn't expecting Tyler, The Creator rapping and singing so openly about normal things that would affect a 26 year old. The state of sheer infatuation with another human being on 'See You Again', the apathy throughout 'Boredom' especially the line "my friends suck, fuck em, I'm over em", and the continued lack of companionship on '911/Mr Lonely'. I think all of these things are really important for young people listening to this album to hear. And I assume lyrically this wasn't just what I wasn't expecting, but not what anybody was really expecting. Hearing Flower Boy and associating that with the fact the maker of this album is fucking banned from the UK is absolutely baffling. It's important to note, though, that Tyler hasn't lost his more eccentric and erratic streak because we still hear that on both 'Who Dat Boy' and 'I Ain't Got Time!'. The contrast of those songs to the self-referential 'November' and 'Glitter' makes for a truly stunning record.

The growth of Tyler and his work throughout his string of studio albums is so clear and impressive. In terms of composition, lyrics and maturity it's genuinely surprising as to why mainstream media don't seem to show him a huge tonne of support. Even so, Tyler proved that he didn't really need it by reaching number 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart and top ten in the UK. The final best thing about this album is that just when you think you're fed up of hearing the songs from it, Tyler goes and switches everything up and every note sounds new again. Most notably his NPR Tiny Desk Concert is beautiful, fun and so enticing from start to finish - a must watch before 2017 is out, and a must repeat as often as you need to, just like Flower Boy itself.



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