Wow. Just wow. Not exactly sure how I feel about this yet, but Tyler is rapping his ass off all over this.
Edit: alright I’ve organized my thoughts, here’s the full review
Yet again, Tyler, The Creator has come through with another great album for his discography, and this time it’s a victory lap in album form.
Tyler, The Creator is one of the most intriguing and talented figures in music today, and he is one of my favorite artists. Flower Boy is my favorite album ever, and IGOR is certainly up there as well. It would take way too long to fully explain how much Flower Boy means to me, but the album really changed me and opened up my music taste. I also ended up going back through his discography, and while his older projects weren’t amazing (except for WOLF), they all showed glimpses of what he’d become. I also loved IGOR when it came out, but I don’t have as much of a connection with it that as I do with Flower Boy. I’ve also seen Tyler perform live twice, and because of how important he is to me, the idea of new music from him will always be ridiculously exciting. And once again, this rollout was pretty fantastic.
After the unexpected album that was IGOR, I had no idea where Tyler was going to go with a new album. But post-IGOR, we got some hints that Tyler would be going in a more rap direction on this new project. He had said during the IGOR era that he someday wanted to make his “first great rap album”, and he ended up releasing the “Group B” track post-IGOR which had some great bars on it. He also had some cool features on the Freddie Gibbs album, the Westside Gunn album, and even the Lil Yachty album. We also got the Coke commercial that he produced the song for, which was a more rap direction as well. And while I would have loved more R&B and soul inspired Tyler music, I was super excited about the idea of a true rap record from him. So with us reaching an odd number year, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was ready for whatever. Then, the well-executed rollout started. The billboards started popping up with a number, fans started getting voicemails, and this all eventually manifested in the first single “LUMBERJACK”, which is a hard and grimey rap banger. I was super excited about this being the direction for the album, but then he put out the “WUSYANAME” teaser, which is super smooth and completely different. And then it came out that NBA Youngboy of all people was on the song, and all my expectations went out the window. The voicemails also sounded great, and the BROWN SUGAR SALMON skit was hilarious as well. All together, the short and concise rollout of this album allowed for me to consistently stay excited, unlike some longer rollouts that artists do.
Anyway, on the day before the album came out for me, I saw that the album came out in New Zealand. Usually I’d listen to it, but I wanted to hear it when it released at midnight and it took everything in me to not listen. However, I did see the tracklist and the features, and well…I was intrigued. While I was excited for Lil Wayne, Domo, and Pharrell, I was worried about the 42 Dugg and Youngboy features. I was also worried how the album would come together as a whole, and while this album isn’t better than Flower Boy and IGOR, it isnt necessarily trying to be and is still fantastic anyway.
Call Me If You Get Lost may not hit the level of his last two projects, but it still comes really close and is still a great album. Yeah, while it’s not as conceptual story-wise or sonically as Flower Boy or IGOR was, its all tied together with how mixtape-esque it feels, which is only helped by the DJ Drama additions all over the album. Then, there’s the Tyler Baudelaire alter-ego character, which seems like a vehicle for Tyler to flex and get super braggadocious on here. There’s also the relationship love triangle that gets brought up at different points on the album, even if it doesn’t take up the whole album like the themes of Flower Boy or the relationship narrative in IGOR. And while CMIYGL may not be as focused as those two albums, I think that’s part of what it’s going for.
Sonically, this album is kind of hard to put a finger on, as there are some hard and more old-school hip-hop beats, some lavish and jazzy beats, and even some more trap inspired beats. But no matter what sound Tyler is doing on here, it all is held together with the mixtape aesthetic. This album also sounds expensive, lavish, and confident, and the strange group of features somehow works and also adds to this mixtape feel. And another thing that adds to the mixtape feel is the strange flow of the album and how all over the place it sometimes feels.
The album opens with “SIR BAUDELAIRE”, which immediately establishes the Tyler Baudelaire character and the grand and lavish sound of the album. Tyler raps over a beat from a Westside Gunn song, which makes sense considering Tyler said that Westside Gunn was a big reason that he was convinced to really rap on this album. The beat is great though and sounds super expensive, and Tyler has a great verse on top of it. I also really like the sound effects that emphasize some of the lyrics in Tyler’s verse. The song isn’t anything too crazy, but it’s a great tone setter and intro for the rest of the album. The next track “CORSO” may on the surface just seem like an absolutely chaotic banger with some great production and verses filled with flexing from Tyler, but this changes in the last verse. During this verse, Tyler touches on the relationship narrative this album later explores and how sad he is about it. He talks about “spending millions to fill voids up”, and he also has a great line about “buying new emotions” and “buying a boat because I’d rather cry in the ocean”. It’s these lyrics that start to reveal that maybe the braggadocio of Tyler Baudelaire may be an act to try to distract himself from his true feelings. But whether it’s an act or not, there’s a lot of flexing on here, and it continues on the next track “LEMONHEAD”. This song is a trap-inspired banger with blaring horns and some really hard hitting drums, and Tyler’s performance on this song is pretty great. The 42 Dugg feature is also surprisingly pretty solid and really elevates the song. From here, we go into the smooth and beautiful “WUSYANAME”, which has another verse that somehow works from NBA Youngboy. Ty Dolla $ign also has some great background vocals here. But after this detour, it’s back to the bangers on “LUMBERJACK”. After this track is the super jazzy and lavish “HOT WIND BLOWS”, which has a fantastic beat, a super funny intro from DJ Drama, a great verse from Tyler, and one of the best Lil Wayne verses in recent memory. The next track “MASSA”, is one of the more introspective songs on the album, as on here Tyler raps about his career and his thoughts on his success. He references many things in his career, and even touches on his feelings about his sexuality in lines like “everyone I’ve ever loved had to be loved in the shadows“, and “tug-of-war with X and Y
felt like a custody battle”. Now, “RUNITUP“ may be my least favorite on the album and takes a little long to get going, its still a pretty good song with a cool instrumental and guest vocals from Teezo Touchdown. The next track, “MANIFESTO”, might be my favorite song on the album. The beat is hard as fuck, and Domo Genesis has a great verse, but Tyler’s verse here is one of the best on the album. On this song, Tyler touches on his feelings about his responsibilities as a celebrity and a public figure, the backlash he had early in his career, his growth as a person, and even religion. And after this track, we get the longest and most different track sonically on the album, “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE“. This song is one of the few dedicated to the relationship story, and both the first half and the reggae-inspired second half are great. Brent Faiyaz and Fana Hues also have some great vocals on here, and for an almost 10 minute song there isn’t a single boring moment in it. “RISE!” is another highlight on here, as it has some solid verses from Tyler, a great instrumental, and nice vocals from Daisy World. “JUGGERNAUT” is another great banger with a crazy beat and great verses from Tyler, Lil Uzi Vert, and Pharrell. Then, we get “WILSHIRE”, an 8 minute story track fully about the relationship that he had briefly mentioned in various tracks. The instrumental isn’t the best on here or anything, but it’s solid and on top of it Tyler provides some of his best writing to date. Yeah, the quality isn’t great, but Tyler said on Twitter that the whole song was one take and with a “shitty handheld mic”, so I think this excuses it. And then the closer “SAFARI”, while maybe not as great a closer as he has had in the past, is still a solid song with a great instrumental from Jay Versace and closes out the album nicely.
So while this may not be Tyler’s best album, Call Me If You Get Lost is great and feels like a victory lap in album form. It sounds like a celebration of all of the styles he has done before, and it specifically feels like Tyler refining the sounds he was going for on WOLF and Cherry Bomb, but after years of improving and getting better as a producer and a rapper. Tyler is also talking his shit all over this album, and rightfully so, but sometimes this feel like a way of suppressing his sadness, which we see through the moments of introspection that occasionally come through. Overall, this truly is Tyler’s greatest “rap album”, and a fantastic close to one of the best three album runs I’ve ever seen.
Fav Tracks: SIR BAUDELAIRE, CORSO, LEMONHEAD, WUSYANAME, LUMBERJACK, HOT WIND BLOWS, MASSA, MANIFESTO, SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, RISE!, JUGGERNAUT, WILSHIRE
Least Fav Tracks: RUNITUP