Discography Dive: Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator - Bastard
50
ALBUM #1- Bastard

SWAG SWAG SWAG

I think anyone familiar with Tyler’s music can commend his artistic growth from albums like the time of ‘Bastard’ and ‘Goblin’- an immature teen who seemingly sucked all controversy towards himself- to ‘Flower Boy’, a sincere album that beautifully shows Tyler’s maturation as both a person and an artist. It’s cool to see someone who was as hated as Tyler used to be turned into one of the most essential and influential figures in modern music. But enough of that 2017 bullshit! It’s 2009, and Tyler has just released his debut mixtape. For an artist who was so thoroughly engulfed in controversy, you’re probably wondering how INTERESTING his first project is. Well, to that, I just gotta say that it’s kinda… just… fine?

Achilles heel of this album is definitely the production. So much of it feels dated, barely even mixed properly, pretty trashy. Many beats lack variety. The messiness of the production is something that really makes this album excruciating to listen to at points. Tracks like ‘Parade’ and ‘VCR/Wheels’ just de-evolve into utter messes by the time they’re over. Other tracks like ‘Sarah’ and ‘French!’ feel like absolute products of their time; filled with cheap, completely lifeless synths and horrible-sounding drums that you can really only get from the late 2000s/early 2010s hip-hop records.

Still, some iffy production can’t stop a great rapper. Tyler shows a lot of promise as a rapper here. Tracks like the title track, ‘Seven’, ‘Odd Toddlers’, and ‘Assmilk’ are competently rapped, albeit a tad bit edgy. However, edginess and early Tyler are basically interwoven- it’s something you’re going to have to get used to when listening to early Tyler. Is it great? No, but it does make a great case for Tyler having potential as an artist.

Strong 5/10
Favorite Tracks: Bastard, Seven, Odd Toddlers, Blow, Assmilk, Session
Worst Track: Parade
Tyler, the Creator - Goblin
30
ALBUM #2- GOBLIN

For every ‘Yonkers’, there are two more ‘Widow’s or ‘Radicals’s. Such a long, drawn-out, and stiff project. Nearly any potential Tyler showed on ‘Bastard’ seemed to vanish with this album. I saw nearly any because of the highlights; specifically ‘Yonkers’, ‘She’, and ‘Tron Cat’. These three songs, especially ‘Yonkers, which I’ll speak a bit more on later, are better than anything on ‘Bastard’. Still, the issues that marred ‘Bastard’ are increased tenfold here. Think about what a goblin is for a minute. Putrid, evil, offensive, hideous… that’s basically ‘Goblin’ in a nutshell. Still doesn’t make for an enjoyable album experience though.

The album is as drawn-out as an album can be; at times unlistenable, filled with annoying pitch-shifting and with the lifeless production that was a prime reason why I didn’t love ‘Bastard’, etc. The edginess here seems much more hamfisted and tacked on than it did on ‘Bastard’ too. It’s a painfully bland, lazy, and bloated album that tries too hard to be edgy, constantly fails to stimulate any feelings other than boredom, and feels like 5 hours despite clocking in at barely over one.

But getting back to ‘Yonkers’; as much as I hate this album, I at least got to appreciate that something this great could come out of such a shitshow. ‘Yonkers’ is a cultural milestone. It was perhaps the first showing of genius from Tyler. The consistently quotable lyrics that are tinged with edginess yet brimming with humor, the iconic video that was often looked at as “vile”, it being the song blew Tyler up due to how much controversy it sparked, and the fact that it is a song that is still being quoted to this day... it’s impressive, really.

Strong 3/10
Favorite Tracks: Yonkers, She, Nightmare, Tron Cat
Worst Track: Bitch Suck Dick
Tyler, the Creator - Wolf
70
ALBUM #3- WOLF

‘Wolf’; Tyler’s first great project. While ‘Flower Boy’ is definitely the antithesis to ‘Goblin’, ‘Wolf’ is just about as far away as Tyler can stray from ‘Goblin’ while still operating in the same pure hip-hop lane. ‘Wolf’ is introspective, well produced, at points unexpectedly eclectic, perfectly paced, consistently entertaining, and, most importantly, mature.

‘Wolf’ is exactly what ‘Goblin’ should have been and serves as a much better introduction to who exactly Tyler, the Creator is. Is the edginess still there? Sure, but it DEFINITELY isn’t as annoying as it was on ‘Goblin’. Plus ‘Wolf’ actually shows a fair bit of maturity. It feels similar to ‘Goblin’ in that they’re both hardcore hip-hop records that feel like extensions of ‘Bastard’. However, where ‘Goblin’ just feels like much weaker and unnecessary ‘Bastard’ DLC, ‘Wolf’ actually feels like the next step forward for ‘Tyler’; a record that seems to pull from a lot of different influences, ranging from hip-hop to R&B to soul, AND one that feels much more, well, mature.

You’ve probably heard me use the word “mature” quite a bit at this point. Why, you may be asking? That’s because that’s all I can really describe what happened between this album and ‘Goblin’- Tyler matured. Don’t get me wrong, he still makes immature jokes and there are still a fair bit of incredibly rough spots across this record, HOWEVER, comparing ‘Wolf’ to ‘Goblin’, Tyler seems to be more… focused. Where ‘Goblin’ and ‘Bastard’ felt like Tyler rapping just to rap, ‘Wolf’ actually feels like Tyler trying to prove himself, and Goddamn does he prove it.

I feel like I’ve been talking too much about ‘Goblin’, so let’s take a minute to talk about ‘Wolf’ without any comparisons. ‘Wolf’s lyricism is oftentimes introspective and nuanced- Tyler’s bars feel much sharper than ever and his storytelling is practically always captivating. The production, while almost always sounding like the
Tyler, the Creator - Yonkers
inverse of what ‘Goblin’ was, has something distinctly Tyler about it. Songs like ‘Rusty’ and ‘Cowboy’ have beats that feel almost nostalgic in a sense with their use of bittersweetly upbeat synths and melancholic pianos, a vibe that would be replicated time and time again with Tyler. Meanwhile, songs like ‘Jamba’ and ‘Tamale’ have incredibly banging beats and tracks like ‘PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer' and ‘Treehome95’ bring a lot of different genres into the fold, at points transcending the simple tag of “hip-hop” entirely.

Strong 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Cowboy, Awkward, Domo23, Answer, Slater, 48, Colossus, IFHY, Pigs, Parking Lot, Rusty, Tamale, Lone
Worst Track: Trashwang
Tyler, the Creator - Cherry Bomb
40
ALBUM #4- CHERRY BOMB

‘CHERRY BOMB’ is a shitshow of an album, though also one that I see as perhaps Tyler’s most essential release thus far and one that I can respect immensely. Following ‘Wolf’, Tyler’s ambition increased tenfold. That ambition culminated into ‘Cherry Bomb’; a record chocked full of good ideas, but also one that usually suffers from one singular issue; poor mixing.

Fuck the mixing here. It wouldn’t be a perfect album with the mixing issues fixed, which make otherwise great songs unlistenable, but it would have fixed many problems I have with ‘CHERRY BOMB’. Tracks such as ‘FIND YOUR WINGS’, ‘BLOW MY LOAD’, and ‘OKAGA, CA’ are close to being pure euphoria, however, the mixing just completely soils the tracks. I could go on about the mixing here for hours, though I’d be lying if I said the project was flawless otherwise. Ugly synths appear from time to time, lots of annoying vocal pitching pops up, especially on ‘RUN’ and ‘KEEP DA O’S’, and some of Tyler’s subject matter makes me feel… uncomfortable (look at you ‘FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT’).

The highs here are extremely high- ‘DEATHCAMP’ and ‘THE BROWNSTAINS’ are pure adrenaline and hype from front to back, plus shoutout to ‘SMUCKERS’, my favorite Tyler rap track. Though, I can't go without commenting on how much of a "page-turning" moment this is for Tyler’s discography. ‘CHERRY BOMB’ saw Tyler embarking on many crossovers between Neo-Soul and Hip-Hop. Again, Tyler did a little bit of genre-crossing on ‘Wolf’, but ‘CHERRY BOMB’ takes it to the next level- vocal pitching on Tyler’s voice to make his singing more melodic, a specific lush and warm vibe that Tyler would go on to improve on later releases, and elegantly hypnotizing arrangements. All of these were presented in a pretty rough state and would go on to be not only improved but ALSO perfected on...

Decent 4/10
Favorite Tracks: DEATHCAMP, BUFFALO THE BROWNSTAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6-12 (REMIX), SMUCKERS
Worst Track: KEEP DA O'S
Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy
90
ALBUM #5- FLOWER BOY

Here we fucking are... “Flower Boy’- it’s been a long, wild ride, but we’ve finally reached the creative apex of Tyler, the Creator’s musical career… or at least the creative highpoint of Tyler as a rapper. It’s crazy just to look at how much Tyler perfected the sound he was shooting for on ‘CHERRY BOMB’ with ‘Flower Boy’. Let me make something clear; ‘Flower Boy’ is not ‘CHERRY BOMB’ done right- it’s, instead, an album that was born out of the failure ‘CHERRY BOMB’ unfortunately turned out to be. Whereas ‘CHERRY BOMB’ seemed to have far too many ideas to the point where they all were clashing with each other, or had ideas that were just straight-up bad, ‘Flower Boy’ seems to understand everything that was wrong about ‘CHERRY BOMB’ and attempts to amend the blunder that was ‘CHERRY BOMB’ whilst also adding a lot of nuances that completely changed what people viewed Tyler as.

Up to this point in his career, there were only a few rare instances in which we got to see Tyler Okonma rather than just Tyler, the Creator- at least within his musical career. Opposed to the world-renowned le epic troll we usually see Tyler take form as ‘Flower Boy’ shows us a softer side of him- and I don’t just mean lyrically. Of course, Tyler's lyrics are more open, self-exposing, heartfelt, and candid, but the production is also rather lush in comparison to his other projects. All of Tyler’s other projects- even ‘CHERRY BOMB’- had incredibly hard-hitting hip-hop bangers. However, the only two true blue bangers on ‘Flower Boy’ are ‘Who Dat Boy’ and 'I Ain’t Got Time!’. The more mellow approach to Tyler’s sound culminates into what is perhaps his easiest album to
get into, at least as a front-to-back experience. The many embellishments of R&B and pop on songs such as
Tyler, the Creator - See You Again
‘See You Again’ and ‘Boredom’... the softer, subtler approach to hip-hop on tracks such as ‘Where The Flower Blooms’ with its bewitching violin passages/its ‘Wolf’-esque synth melody and ‘Pothole’... Tyler giving his forward-thinking take on neo-soul with ‘Glitter’... the neo-psychedelia twist thrown onto ‘Garden Shed’- it’s like Tyler is throwing all the music he enjoys onto one canvas and creating a beautiful, eclectic painting.

Going back to the lyrics, however, I must say- despite the incredible maturation he’s gone through on this album, Tyler still feels like Tyler at the core of it all. His humor and classic style of wordplay are still there, there’s just virtually none of the stupid-ass songs with corny wordplay, no over-the-top edginess, and none of those straight-up annoying lines which plagued previous records. Tyler also opens up about many subjects he’s been rather quiet about on prior records- loneliness, depression, his sexuality, which the media made a much bigger deal about than it actually was, etc. It’s the perfect Spring/Summer album and honestly feels like everything Tyler wanted to make since ‘Wolf’- just this time, executed perfectly. I absolutely adore this album, and yet, the most surprising thing about this was that… somehow… some fucking how… Tyler managed to top this album with...

Light 9/10
Favorite Tracks: Foreword, Where This Flower Blooms, See You Again, Who Dat Boy, Pothole, Garden Shed, Boredom, I Ain’t Got Time!, 911 / Mr. Lonely, Droppin’ Seeds, Glitter
Worst Track: Enjoy Right Now, Today
Tyler, the Creator - Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
30
ALBUM #6- THE GRINCH

The Grinch

The Grinch10
Favorite Tracks: The Grinch
Worst Track: The Grinc
Tyler, the Creator - IGOR
90
‘IGOR’- Tyler’s masterpiece. Very few albums that have hit #1 on the Billboard Top 200 get weirder than ‘IGOR’. Imagine telling a 2010 Tyler fan that Tyler would be making a gay breakup neo-soul album to end off the decade. Remember how on my ‘Flower Boy’ blurb I made sure to specify that ‘Flower Boy’ DIDN’T feel like ‘CHERRY BOMB’ but done right- that’s because that is pretty much what ‘IGOR’ is. ‘CHERRY BOMB’ honestly just sounds like a collection of rough ‘IGOR’ demos at quite a few moments. I guess it’s not thematically consistent with what ‘IGOR’, nor do the two sounds presented on each record run parallel to each other, however, ‘IGOR’ feels like the next logical step past the more R&B/neo-soul-centric cuts off of ‘CHERRY BOMB’.

To comment on ‘IGOR’ as a standalone piece, however, I guess I’ll start with saying that Tyler perfected the age-old art of synthporn here. He’s previously shown himself to be a master of synthporn on ‘Flower Boy’ and ‘Wolf’, but ‘IGOR’ takes that skill of creating synth passages that can make you cream to the next level. These synth melodies… fuck they’re too addictive. So many hypnotic synth labyrinths that will send your head spinning, your spine-shivering, your nuts cumming, and will make you more emotional in their sheer beauty than most artists can with an entire ensemble of instruments. It’s really nuts to see how Tyler’s synth work on ‘Goblin’ was more like Sara Jay meanwhile now it’s more like Riley Reid or smth.

Moving away from the synths and more towards other aspects of the production (as it’s really what steals the show here), there’s a lovable layer of Lo-Fi-ness a lot of songs are encased in- ‘I THINK’ and ‘IGOR’S THEME’ sound like they’re buried in a layer of fuzz or something (it’s really hard to explain but you’ll you’ll completely
Tyler, the Creator - Earfquake
understand when you listen to the songs), plus many songs see Tyler almost become one with the beat as thanks to some great mixing. You see, the difference between what many people may deem “poor mixing” on ‘IGOR’, comparatively to ‘CHERRY BOMB’, is that the mixing doesn’t turn these songs into total fucking messes. It all feels so… controlled and intentional. I also can’t go without mentioning the astonishing sampling, the sentimental pianos, the sick-as-shit guitar solo at the end of ‘ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?’... you get the point. The production is fucking unparalleled by any other Tyler release (and very few actual albums in general)

As for Tyler’s songwriting, it’s pretty straightforward, following the linear narrative of a breakup yet still leaving enough up for interpretation as to how these events unfold. There’s a lot of quotables here too. The pitch-shifting is also something that you will notice as one of the first big gimmicks that this record holds… and while it may off-put some, it should be no surprise to anyone that I absolutely adore it. Tyler mastered pitch-shifting here… he recognizes that he doesn’t have the best singing voice and, instead of shifting it into a super high and annoying octave and/or an awkward low-voice that doesn’t match the song’s aesthetic, the vocal pitching sounds much less… forced? Idk, it’s late, I’m tired, I’m just trying to say that the vocal-pitching here is both done much more successfully than it is on previous Tyler records and that it's a winning gimmick here. All in all, definitely the best breakup album of the decade and one of the best neo-soul albums of all time. Albums like this and ‘Flower Boy’ are why Tyler will be remembered as a legend for years to come.

Strong 9/10
Favorite Tracks: IGOR’S THEME, EARFQUAKE, I THINK, RUNNING OUT OF TIME, NEW MAGIC, A BOY IS A GUN*, PUPPET, WHAT’S GOOD, GONE GONE / THANK YOU, ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?
Worst Track: I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE (If I truly had to pick)
Tyler, the Creator - CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
80
I'm too lazy to write a re-review of this since I already wrote one a couple weeks back when the album first dropped... so catch the review at the bottom of this blurb. Kinda an anti-climatic way to end this but Tyler is an artist who means a lot to me ('IGOR' was one of the first non-hip-hop albums ever that I heard in full and was integral for me to branch out into genres other than R&B/Hip-Hop). Uhhhhh yeah thanks for reading.

https://www.albumoftheyear.org/user/chode/album/380071-call-me-if-you-get-lost/

Strong 8/10
Favorite Tracks: CORSO, LUMBERJACK, HOT WIND BLOWS, MASSA, MANIFESTO, SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, RISE!, JUGGERNAUT, WILSHIRE, SAFARI
Worst Track: RUNITUP
Tyler, the Creator - LUMBERJACK
STATISTICS:

ARTIST: TYLER, THE CREATOR
AVERAGE SCORE: 67 (165/248)
5 FAVORITE TRACKS: SMUCKERS (CHERRY BOMB), Garden Shed (Flower Boy), 911 / Mr. Lonely (Flower Boy), NEW MAGIC WAND (IGOR), GONE GONE / THANK YOU (IGOR),
RANKING IN OVERALL SERIES #2 (2/3)

-----ALBUMS: 8-----

ALBUMS RANKED:

1. IGOR (2019)
2. FLOWER BOY (2017)
3. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST (2021)
4. WOLF (2013)
5. BASTARD (2009)
6. CHERRY BOMB (2015)
7. GOBLIN (2011)
T. HE GRINCH (2018)

GOOD ALBUMS: 4
MEH ALBUMS: 1
BAD ALBUMS: 3
1
Comments
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1w
correct ranking too
1w
the references to pornstars had me crying
1w
hello Rebecca
1w
Chode, You didn't have to do that to Rebecca. Poor Rebecca :( rip
3w
TINA PERM YOUR FUCKING WEAVE
3w
I just know you're gonna underrate Wolf and that makes me sad. I love it.
3w
'At Your Own Risk" is pretty much a shitpost
3w
I just started da list check it out
3w
liked and idc what fs
3w
I just started da list check it out
4w
Andrei
4w
Very nice list
1mo
hey, dis like the micthesnare format ! me likey.
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