Album review: Tyler, The Creator finds sincerity in creativity with ‘Flower Boy’

Posted on Jul 28 2017 - 4:50pm by Randy Morgan

Former member of new-wave hip hop group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, known as Odd Future, Tyler, The Creator has released his fourth solo studio album. “Flower Boy” is easily Tyler’s most accomplished album in his illustrious, yet weird, career. Known as an aggressive artist with offensive traits, Tyler has yet to show that he can put together an album worthy of a solo release. That changed with the release of “Flower Boy.”

An album featuring former Odd Future member Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, and Lil Wayne, Tyler has put together a piece of art that has some serious “Channel Orange” influences. The album features four singles, “Who Dat Boy,” “911/Mr. Lonely,” “Boredom” and “I Ain’t Got Time.”  

While past albums released by Tyler featured some jams that fit his aesthetic but were disappointing as a whole, songs such as “Domo23,”” “SMUCKERS” and “Sandwitches” stand out in Tyler’s repertoire, but the albums themselves fall short of the type of expectations one has for Tyler.

“Flower Boy” starts off with an “Introduction” featuring Rex Orange County that sets the stage for the rest of the album and Tyler’s introspective look into his life. Tyler’s close friend Frank Ocean makes an appearance for the first time on the second track on “Flower Boy,” “Where This Flower Blooms.”

“Where This Flower Blooms” is a track announcing how Tyler arrived at his place in the world, or, appropriately, how this Flower Boy bloomed. Tyler sings about his influence on black youth as he tries to break stereotypes and social conventions. “Tell these black kids they could be who they are, dye your hair blue, shit, I’ll do it too.”

This track stands out within the early parts of the album, as it sets the tone for what would follow. Tyler, an artist once seen as one who spewed homophobia on his albums, seemingly comes out as homosexual or bisexual on “Flower Boy.” Specifically, the track, “Garden Shed,” where Tyler sings hiding in the garden shed, a nice little metaphor for hiding in the closet. Maybe this track should have been titled “Guardin’ Shit”?

As the track abruptly ends, it instantly flows into “Boredom,” one of the four singles off of the album and Rex Orange County’s second appearance on the album.

While “Boredom” is an excellent track, it is the song following it that is interesting to me. “I Ain’t Got Time” is the most aggressive song on the album. Hitting the listener right in the eardrum to begin the song, Tyler regresses back to his former style of fast and loud rap. While the song sounds like something off of “WOLF,” the song is very important to the overall message of “Flower Boy.”

Featuring the line “been kissing white boys since 2004,” Tyler reinforces the idea that this album is him coming out as bisexual or homosexual.

The best song on this album, in my opinion, is “911/Mr. Lonely”, which follows Tyler’s pattern of combining two songs for the 10th track on all of his albums. Featuring Frank Ocean for the second time, these two songs work perfectly in the grand scheme of the album but do not really offer much substance to the inner meaning of the album.

While “Flower Boy” is distinctly an album by Tyler, the Creator, it is also unique. While the album contains songs such as “I Ain’t Got Time” that sound like Tyler’s past work, it also takes a leap into an experimental phase with tracks like “Glitter” and “November.” Tyler has finally rebuked the idea that he is a homophobic, immature rapper who panders to a suburban crowd of teenagers and entered into a realm of creativity that finally seems sincere.