By Aaron Williams–
Tyler, the Creator is undoubtedly one of the most influential and controversial figures of the alternative hip-hop genre. His debut album “Bastard” was the first of its kind. His sophomore effort “Goblin” spawned the viral video for his most well known song, “Yonkers.” Fast forward to 2013 and Tyler has given fans his third album, “Wolf.”
“Wolf” could be best described as a cathartic spewing of offensive and vulgar subject matter that utilizes swearing in crude, previously unimaginable ways. In other words, Tyler is back to his usual ways of offending conservative, white America as well as the LGBTQ community, Spike Lee, and a seemingly endless list of others. Never to be one to fit inside a box, Tyler unleashes an unrelenting salvo of f-bombs, n-words and homophobic slurs all while showing glimmers of depth and actual human emotion. The writer of this review neither condones nor condemns the lyrical content that is relevant to Tyler’s art form, which may be best understood as anti-rap.
“Wolf” begins by introducing two conceptual characters of Tyler’s psyche, Sam and Wolf, on the first track and then proceeds to jump right into the action with the second track, “Jamba.” Tyler’s production abilities have clearly improved on his third album. While the emcee and deejay may still have a few mixing problems that could stand a little tweak, the quality of the beats on “Wolf “is actually quite impressive. Fellow Odd Future member Hodgy Beats lends a verse to ‘Jamba’ while the Creator promises to “get ‘ish popping like Peter’s pores during puberty and take bets on how quick Tyler can reach maturity.”
From there, ‘Wolf’ takes a bit of a drop off on one of my least favorite tracks on the album, “Cowboy.” The beat is boring, the chorus repetitive, and Tyler seems to be disinterested and aimless on this track. Following “Cowboy” is “Awkward.” Tyler lowers the bass in his voice a few octaves for an effect that sounds very Captain Murphy like. “Awkward” is the story of a dysfunctional relationship Tyler is struggling with that seems more frustrating than enjoyable. The same could almost be said of the track.
Despite these two lower quality tracks, “Wolf” quickly recovers with one of my favorite 1-2 punch track combinations on the project. First is “Domo 23” the lead single off the album that boasts a spastic beat and some bars of fury from Tyler. The next track is the real haymaker though. “Answer” is quite possibly the most emotionally complex track that Tyler has released to date. It is an honest track where Tyler hurls insults at his absentee father only to admit that he hopes the object of his hatred picks up the phone if Tyler gives him a call.
“Slater / Escape-ism” segues perfectly into another one of ‘Wolf’s best tracks, “48.” For this joint, Tyler takes on the persona of a conflicted coke dealer. The beat is amazing, the Nas samples are on point, and the additional vocals provided by Grammy-award winning artist Frank Ocean are immaculate. “Colossus / The Bridge of Love” provides Tyler with the opportunity to address his own crazed and obsessive fans. Pro-tip, if you see Tyler at a festival this summer, don’t mention Yonkers. He’s sick of hearing about it.
If you have seven minutes on your hands, check out “PartyIsntOver / Campfire / Bimmer” if only for the two minutes of Bimmer you get at the end of the track. Tyler returns to his own dysfunctional relationships on “IFHY.” The beat is impressive and blessed with some crooning from Tyler’s mentor and idol Pharrell Williams. Other moments not to miss on the album include “Rusty” which features Odd Future members Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt and the posse cut “Trashwang” which combines members from the Wolf Gang and Trash Talk on a single track. Tyler closes his album with another moment that should prove to critics that Tyler has, in fact, matured a little after all. “Lone” is a powerful track about the death of the Cali emcee’s grandmother. Though Tyler doesn’t shine on every track on “Wolf,” the artistic effort he put into the album is certainly on display. “Wolf” boasts a collection of songs not to be missed by any fan of alternative hip-hop and therefore receives a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Photo courtesy of stereogum.com