Hi everyone, Longthony Waittano here,
the internet's busiest music nerd.
And it's time for a review of the new Tyler, the Creator Album, IGOR.
This is the sixth full-length album from one of the most polarizing and uncompromising
rappers and producers of this generation, Tyler, the Creator.
It has been a few years now since the release of Tyler's most critically-acclaimed album yet, Flower Boy.
Which was a pretty amazing moment for him in his discography.
Easily his most consistent record yet in-terms of style and quality.
Better production and lyrics on this thing, quality features as-well as smooth fusions of hip-hop and soul
throughout almost every instrumental here.
Not only was Tyler writing some of his best songs to date on this album,
but a lot of the amateurish and childishly edgy characteristics of his past works
that really held his music back, kind of melted away.
It's like a switch was flipped and we were being presented with an all-new Tyler here.
And IGOR presents us with a brand-new Tyler, the Creator as-well
Like a few of Tyler's previous projects IGOR sees our hip-hop anti-hero
embracing a new character and a new narrative.
IGOR is more than just another persona though, it's also a vehicle for Tyler to express his heartbreak
and explore more singing and tuneful song-writing.
Flower Boy definitely saw Tyler gravitating more towards these sounds
and maybe with his next record some of his long-time fans were hoping that he would
come through with an album that was more of a true-blue hip-hop experience.
But, IGOR is not that.
The instrumentals on this record embrace even more soul, even more R&B.
And, not to say that aren't points on this album where Tyler raps, there are.
He even makes sure to work a few bangers into the mix like NEW MAGIC WAND as-well as WHAT'S GOOD,
but these cuts are more the exception than the rule.
Again most of the tracks on this album fit into more of a soul categorization.
With some of the instrumentation on them throwing it back the '60s and '70s.
Such as A BOY IS A GUN and ARE WE STILL FRIENDS as-well as EARFQUAKE to a degree.
And, it's a weird vibe. Tyler's embrace of these sounds, feels like a combination of several different things.
The tone of the instrumentation, the kind of messy production and the singing on here
leaves me feeling like I'm hearing Tyler be a little tongue-in-cheek.
But given the narrative of these tracks it does feel like he's trying to express some genuine feelings here.
The textures and timbres in the instrumentation are great too, but it is a decidedly rough presentation.
A little lo-fi in the same way Cherry Bomb was.
Some of the mixes are kind of funny.
But even though some of Tyler's lack-luster production in the past has rubbed me the wrong way.
With IGOR it feels like it's coming from a place of skill.
Essentially, it's the difference between making a sub-par recording because you can't make anything else
other than a sub-par recording and going back to embrace and more flawed and gruff, raw aesthetic
once you have gained the ability to make something as clean and as well crafted as Flower Boy.
It's almost post-punk in a way, Tyler's ability to subvert and mutate the smooth, jazzy and sweet
sounds of Soul and R&B throughout multiple tracks on this album.
It's also worth mentioning that it is painfully obvious that the work of Pharell
has been hugely influential to the instrumental front of this record too.
Which given Tyler's history should no surprise. He has been and unapologetic fan of Williams for a long-time.
But never before in my opinion has he embraced so many obvious Pharell-isms in his music this hard,
but also kind of made them his-own.
The world that Tyler presents on IGOR, and I do think it is a world, is vivid, it's seamless, it is immersive.
While I'm mentioning influences in this review, I should also name-drop rapper, producer, legend Madlib too.
Not only because of the artfully rough production and vintage samples placed throughout this album,
but also the pitched vocals and character development that Tyler engages in on IGOR
also reminds me of some of Madlib's Quasimoto efforts.
As far as the run-time goes IGOR also has an impeccable flow.
There is really no excuse to leave until the last track is over,
even if the narrative of the album doesn't follow the most obvious progression.
On IGOR's earliest moments we already see the relationship that the album is based-on
in a moment of crisis, with Tyler begging his romantic-interest here not to leave.
And, as the album progresses we get different flavours of romantic-toxicity,
illustrating exactly why this relationship is crumbling in the first-place.
Things essentially reach a dead-end with the revelation of I DON'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.
We also have a moment of finality after that with ARE WE STILL FRIENDS.
Like volatile relationships themselves, the album is kind of like being stuck
in the middle of a continuous tumble-cycle.
And, when it's over you are busy to decipher exactly what happened, who's at fault
and how you can prevent it from happening again.
IGOR is an album that leaves the listener with in my opinion quite a few loose-ends and unresolved feelings,
but it's still a very satisfying and cathartic project.
The song EARFQUAKE is kind of mellow and maybe even a little funny at first glance,
but with more listens it becomes clear that Tyler is actually pouring his heart into these
squeaky weird lead vocals.
The heartbreak coming off the lyrics is tangible
even if there is a supremely large element of camp to what Tyler is doing here.
♪ When it all comes crashing down I'll need you ♪
There's also a Playboi Carti feature on this track that is placed perfectly.
His weird baby-voiced verse fits the aesthetic of the song quite well
and he is one of many very fantastic and impressive guests on this record.
Many of which are a little obscured and kind of buried in the mixes of particular tracks,
I mean they certainly add to the character and flavour of this album,
but there aren't a whole lot of features on this record that stun or steal the spotlight away
from the character and the persona and the story and the focus of the album.
Which ultimately I think is a good thing, if anything the features, especially on a record like this,
should be playing a more supportive role.
The song I THINK right after this makes for a pretty interesting transition.
I think the lo-fi production on this tracks obscures it, but this song is so friggen' Kanye West.
I have never heard Tyler write a song that is so obviously Kanye.
This track, the instrumental here, some of the flows.
It's the dance beat, it's the glistening synths.
This sounds just like something Kanye would rock during the graduation era, frankly.
It is a very solid tune though, given the aesthetic of the album, the narrative of the record
and the jazzy bridge that Tyler works into the track, he obviously puts his own spin on all of this.
RUNNING OUT OF TIME in my opinion, not a bad track,
but easily the weakest of the more mellow and soulful cuts on the first-leg of this record.
I think the intro draws on a bit long, but it's still a necessary moment on the album.
If not only for it's swirling, cascading synth-arpeggios and lush instrumental-bridge.
Also, super cold-blooded verse at the ending of this track.
And, what this song gives to the album narratively is that Tyler feels this relationship or his chances to save it,
his ability to maintain this other person's interest is slipping away, he's losing his grip on it.
All of this tracks up until this point do a very good job of setting the tone for the record,
but after this we begin to enter banger territory.
We get NEW MAGIC WAND, which is the first touch of real emotional darkness on the album in my opinion.
Which is forecast by the instrumental's sinister electric-piano,
the kind of skittery metallic bits of percussion in the instrumental
that sound like spoons being hit onto dinner plates,
the distant horror-movie synths, the growling distorted bass, of which there is quite a bit of on this entire album.
Tyler's lyrics on this track seem to be coming from more of a place of
extreme jealousy, violent psychosis, desperation.
There's a love triangle angle presented in this track
where Tyler essentially feels like he's competing with his significant-other's ex-girlfriend for attention, for love.
He says he needs to "get her out of the picture".
And, he genuinely seems like he's going mad on this track.
It's like this Norman Bates style of
total and absolute madness.
And I also think this tracks illustrates exactly why the title of this record is what it is.
We see this love, we see this relationship turning Tyler into IGOR,
which is a name that typically is associated with monster, with freaks, with hideous beasts.
A BOY IS A GUN is another stroke of genius in the track-list that is also obviously Kanye inspired.
From the glamorous grooves to the pitched vocal-samples, as-well as some of the refrains on here.
♪ You so mother-fucking dangerous, You so mother-fucking dangerous ♪
This sounds exactly like something that would have landed on Kanye's first couple of records.
Not to mention that,
"How come you the best to me? I know you the worst for me. You sweet and as sugar, diabetic to the first-degree."
That is the most Kanye line that Kanye has never written.
And the rest of the lyrics on this though do continue to expose
why exactly this relationship that Tyler is in is so bad for him and the other person.
Their exchanges and interactions are just absolutely hideous.
To the point where, I'm waiting for the relationship to be over.
But again, the tone changes on the very next track, PUPPET,
where Tyler now feels like he is being controlled by his addiction and his affection for this other person.
Tyler's attitude essentially doing a total 180 from the last track
and now he's bending over backwards doing everything that he can to keep this persons affection.
The song eventually turns cinematic, with an instrumental shift presenting these marching snares,
sparse twinkling melodies and dusty strings,
it feels like a combo of an old-school soul song and a harrowing Bright Eyes ballad.
Kanye West himself also makes an appearance in the second half of this track.
It's a little buried, but it adds quite a bit to the song
and occurs just before the instrumental turns the track into a slow downward elevator ride into hell.
The track WHAT'S GOOD is easily the hardest and most aggressive cut on the entire record.
I would say he's still in character here,
though he does blatantly reference a car accident that he was in last year in the lyrics.
We also hear this song right after a vocal-snippet ending the song PUPPET off,
where somebody is saying "but at some point you come to your senses".
Which is one of several moments on this album,
where you catch these casual spoken-work snippets that sound like they're lifted from a conversation
or an interview.
Tyler even places one all by itself on the fourth track of the album.
And, you might tune these moments out or not think too much of them on first listen,
but please do pay attention.
Because for the most part,
these little passages do tend to forecast whatever the mood the next song is moving into.
Anyways, WHAT'S GOOD, fierce delivery, fierce flows, bold noisy beat, truly evil attitude on this track.
it's not my favourite tune on this entire record, but it is braggadocious, it is self-affirming
and it is pivotal to the evolution of this relationship and of IGOR on this record.
It's like continuously seeing the ego and the love of IGOR balloon and pop, balloon and pop throughout this record.
So IGOR now has seen the light and the love this album is oriented around, it's GONE GONE.
Which is a very bright and summery tune,
the instrumental here might be trying to symbolize
the euphoric bliss of breaking off a relationship that is very bad for you.
There's very little on this track in-terms of feelings of regret, even with lyrics like
"At least i had it, instead of never or maybe I'm too dramatic".
This song is also a two-part track because eventually we transition into the THANK YOU side,
which is built mainly off of a verse from Tyler where he's sort of confirming that he doesn't need this relationship,
this is a good move for him.
Him and this other person were working off of two different blueprints
in the midst of a genius set of bars that reference buildings and architecture.
I also quite a bit, the following track I DON'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.
Instrumentally and vocally the song sounds so small,
but emotionally this track is Tyler throwing a temper-tantrum.
He's stomping around and saying
♪ I don't love you anymore ♪
And, it's hard to tell at points if he actually feels this way
or if he's just saying this convince himself that that's what he wants to feel.
Going deeper into the lyrics here does reveal emotions of wanting to move on, but necessarily knowing how.
The instrumental on this track is dark, it's moody, it's painful, it's depressed.
Not quite as happy about the breakup of this relationship as GONE GONE.
And finally, ARE WE STILL FRIENDS is maybe one of my favourite closers of 2019.
It birngs back the hokey soul-singer vibe of the first leg of the album,
but i would say it goes even harder in that respect.
With Tyler's voice just spotlit on a stage in front of backing bass and guitar.
Very gentle, you have some backup-singers in there as-well, kind of buried drums.
The track builds up to this vocal freakout that is actually pretty amazing
It's a powerfully dramatic finish,
but I can understand that you may not feel that way if you think the production is a little messy or muddy
or if you haven't listened to the entire album up until this point.
Because the song makes way more sense when you're viewing it through the weird lens that IGOR offers.
Maybe the goofy background-vocals or the fake-ass synth-strings that are mixed very, very high.
Maybe they don't do much for you.
But, this track is actually amazing when you consider that it is the climax of
what's essentially Tyler doing the musical equivalent to a one man play here.
Of course, there are supporting musicians and artists, but you know what I mean.
I do maybe have a few issues with the album though,
there a few tracks where I think the structure and the development of the song could be better.
Tyler also is wearing his influences on his sleeves very obviously throughout this record,
to the point where it can be slightly distracting.
And, while I do like the lo-fi aesthetic there are points where
in the long-run of the track-list it does feel like it dampens the overall auditory experience.
I might call it one-dimensional if not for the fact that
the songs and narratives and emotions displayed throughout this album are so wide and vivid.
I actually think the sound of this album is about as rich
as the pink, black, white, grey colour palette of the album art here.
It's obviously limited, but still presents a very compelling and sort of unsettling image.
Overall I think IGOR is a fantastic album and is easily one of the best breakup albums of the decade.
Which is no small feat considering that we're literally right toward the end of this decade.
I'm feeling a decent to a strong 9 on this thing.
-sition have you given this album a listen?
Did you love it? Did you hate it? What would you rate it?
You're the best, You're the best, what should I review next?
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Anthony Fantano, Tyler, the Creator, IGOR, fovever!