“IGOR” is one of the closest albums to my heart, as it’s one I feel 100% relation to, and is an album that explains itself. It unravels it’s own brilliance and madness behind it without any need of an explanation. The project exudes the love, care, anger, sadness, heartbreak, and so much more. With many loose narratives floating around with “Flower Boy”, “Wolf”, and “Cherry Bomb”, a clear motive and story was nowhere to be found with “IGOR” until it dropped. As a person who’s been listening to his music for a long time, I can say this was a huge left turn after listening to it but it never hooked me. “Flower Boy” remained to be my favorite Tyler album until a month ago where I had an epiphany and truly realized the greatness of “IGOR”. The slow burn and unravelment of one of my favorite records of all time.
It’s May 17, 2019, and Tyler’s long-awaited 5th studio album has just dropped. This came with enigmatic and mysterious snippets of Tyler in a blonde wig and a suit, confusing his core audience of what was really going on, and definitely not enough to warn us for the heartfelt experience that was to come before us. This came out with a tweet from Tyler for us when we listen to this album, we have to listen to it in full. No skips, just how it is. Containing 3 acts, it’s seen as akin to a full-on film.
White noise plays for 20 seconds, “where am I?” goes through my head as I’m slowly immersed into the demented world of “IGOR”. “IGOR’S THEME”, the intro and tone-setter for the whole album to what it’s going to become. It perfectly encapsulates the magic of the album and gives a sense of foreshadowing of what’s to come. The word Igor has many different meanings, either being the assistant of Dr. Frankenstein, or a strong warrior, but it only has really one meaning in the context of the album. The album’s main plotline is a love triangle between Tyler, another man and his girlfriend. A confliction of feelings through this man, where he loves Tyler but also his girlfriend and refuses to commit to him. “IGOR’S THEME” tells us what’s going to happen bluntly and abruptly but is needed to really be able to understand it’s meaning out the gate rather than slowly picking up puzzle pieces along the way. A perfect transition into the lead single “EARFQUAKE” with the masterful performance of Playboi Carti and I guess Tyler, The Creator as well.
The bright poppy song “EARFQUAKE” took the world by storm in 2019 and is now easily his most popular song in his discography. Originally written as a song for Justin Bieber and/or for Rihanna, was denied but luckily picked up by Tyler as I felt he was the only person to make this song. This song idolizes love and is trying to find itself into this “perfect” love-story but when truly it isn’t there as shown in the undertones of the song. The best way I can describe it is that it’s, “happy”, not happy, “happy”. It’s an idealistic love story with a dystopian world, and this lover that Tyler wants to think is perfect, truly isn’t… but he would like to think he’s falling in love…
And this time he “thinks” it’s for real. “I THINK” is a song I’d like to think is during the blossoming of a new chapter, a new relationship. It’s own title and chorus seems to doubt itself and thinks of itself on the contrary as deep down, Tyler really doesn’t think he’s falling in love and the fact of the past experiences we’ve all had, it’s bound to end, but the feelings he’s feeling with this “perfect” lover is so strong he doesn’t seem to care of the inevitable and is living in the moment. This is a beginning of a new love clearly, and as much Tyler wants to reap the benefits of it, he knows what’s going to happen, he just doesn’t want it to.
With “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”, Tyler contemplates the relationship entirely. At this stage, I would say that the relationship has been going on for a few months now, or maybe even earlier. Time is of the essence, and isn’t unlimited and is acknowledged by Tyler. He’s realizing the person who he loves so much and is willing to drop anything and everything to make them love him doesn’t love him… and the time to make him love him is running out slowly. Questions that may run through my mind if I were put into this would be like “What’s the point in trying?”, “Why do I love them if they don’t love me?”, “Where is this going to go?”, but in the sad reality, none of these questions truly matter because more and more time is being wasted the more you contemplate, so a decision must be made.
“NEW MAGIC WAND” is where desperate times come to desperate measures. Tyler is now begging for this lover to stay with him, apologizing for mistakes never made, creating promises to fix them just as long as that person stays. Tyler finally is coming to terms with the situation at hand, with the lies he’s told himself in “I THINK” is slowly fading away and showing a clearer picture. All he wants in this world is to be with this person, and is willing to lose himself in the process, becoming this “perfect” match just to be with them. Clearly unhappy, going through a manic episode even, but it just goes to show how far gone he is and what extent he’d go to for this person. As true love this may be, it’s unrequited.
It’s now time for a breather, as “NEW MAGIC WAND” had lots of eccentric energy, passion, and anger let out, we need to take a deep breath and look at the caliber of what’s going on. This is provided with “A BOY IS A GUN*” where Tyler finally realizes that the relationship is slowly slipping out from his fingers. But he still pleads to not be left by this person, he still clearly cares and wants to be with them, pleading to not be “shot down”. He doesn’t want it to go. He wants to be with them. But at this point, he knows it’s going to end.
Despite the fact he knows what’s going to happen, in “PUPPET” he clearly acknowledges the situation and every little detail but insists on staying with them. He needs to be freed, he needs to let it go, he needs to move on…
“WHAT’S GOOD” is quite exactly what Tyler needed to escape the grips of the harsh reality and form his own self-love and move forward. The first hip-hop sounding song in this whole project, but seemingly rapping is the way of his coping. “WHAT’S GOOD” in itself isn’t Tyler moving on from this lover, it’s him trying to cope with it and distracting himself from the situation. It doesn’t do the trick though, as everything still can be in the back of his mind.
“GONE GONE / THANK YOU” can be described as a thank you note to the boy he loves, a mature statement for the immature actions taken during the journey of “IGOR”. HIs love is gone, and is now thanking him for all of the moments that was given to him and the feelings of euphoria he felt while with him. Although it pains him to say these goodbyes, it’s a sense of growth being given to Tyler and is finally coming to terms with the logistics of the ending of the relationship. He boldly claims that he doesn’t love them anymore in the next track as well. He’s finally moved on. He made it out of a phase of his life many can’t do or are struggling to do so right now.
But this is all thrown out the window and wasn’t the reality. He didn’t move on… he still loves them. He wants to salvage all he can, even if it’s just being friends with them on “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” in hopes in the future something can come of it. This past lover is gone from him now, a mere acquaintance, and although Tyler is able to fake him moving on, he truly can’t.
As I said at the beginning of the interview, this album is one of the most relatable of all time for me. I’ve never felt so connected to an album's story and subject-matter before. Heartbreak is something to not take lightly, and truly is hard to go through. For years I felt alone in the darkness of it, listening to albums that never truly struck with me and connected with me on a similar level of my own situation. The closest I’ve ever gotten to this was with Joji’s “BALLADS 1”, “In Tongues”, and “Nectar”, which everyone knows the love I have for those albums. But there was always something missing, a disconnect, a gap in between that wasn’t filled but was later filled when I finally picked up “IGOR” again to find its true meaning. Another user on AOTY, eliiscool5, quoted Leo Tolstoy’s quote “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” which I seem to disagree with when it comes to this album. This album has a lot to be desired, but much of it has to be discovered. Without me truly analyzing it’s greatness, I wouldn’t have had the epiphany to make me finally realize what it really means and the perfection it has and how close it is to my heart.
“IGOR” is the best heartbreak album of all time. No doubt.
Favorite Tracks: IGOR’S THEME, EARFQUAKE, I THINK, RUNNING OUT OF TIME, NEW MAGIC WAND, A BOY IS A GUN*, GONE GONE / THANK YOU, ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?
Least Favorite Track: N/A