Ask me how I’m really doing, so I never have to press that 911.
In the past we’ve only seen Tyler, the Creator as an edgy, outrageous, young, care-free kid making disturbing music. In his debut album Goblin, we had a 19-year-old fresh-faced teen straight outta school rapping about homophobia, telling everyone to “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school”, saying he would “Stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn oesophagus and won’t stop until the cops come in”, and “Let’s buy guns and kill those kids with dads and moms, with nice homes.”
I mean, Who Dat Boy?! (shit pun intended)
However, Tyler, the Creator successfully infuses his murderous vitriol with almost oxymoronic elements of his personality, such as his lack of being able to give a fuck about anyone or their opinions on his music. All rapped over some distinctly gritty, crisp and unique beats, putting his hipster alongside felon and thug.
It’s clear to see almost immediately that he softens the edges of these dark themes with his personality, making it easy to see that he doesn’t mean any of what he says..
To say Scum Fuck Flower Boy is a lot more mature would be an understatement. We have finally seen Tyler mature in attempt to reveal his true self.
Scum Fuck Flower Boy is already one of Tyler’s smoothest albums yet, every part of the instrumentation and arrangement just glides over each other blissfully, which becomes easily noticeable on most of the tracks. Smooth beats, smooth guitars, smooth keys, smooth flows, smooth vocals…I could go on.
But what is truly significant about this album is the evolution, and subsequent depth, of his lyrical content. Moving on from themes of casual bloodshed and breaking shit, the exploration of deeper concepts such as sexuality and loneliness, Tyler’s relationships and dream crushes, and his tendency to drift evoke a certain sense of empathy in the listener. We begin to share the sense of heavy solitude and feelings of possible alienation that Tyler, the Creator is experiencing.
Tyler is no stranger to producing jazz and RnB influenced beats, and it is in this musical realm where his album can be found, littered with jazz piano chords and syncopated fat beats with distorted and looped drum samples. One of the biggest changes as well as the change in mood is Tyler showcasing his ability to sing as well as rap. Most notably in Garden Shed, 911/Mr. Lonely and See You Again.
What’s been discussed most about this new album so far is the question on whether Tyler has come out of the closet. Taking previous lyrics into consideration, it would seem surprising that Tyler would come out as gay or bisexual, but he has still shown massive support for the LGBT community in the past. In 2015 he revealed a range of anti-homophobia merchandise; his close friend, Frank Ocean (who also features in many songs on the album and his previous albums) is gay, and most noticeably, the song Garden Shed on SFFB could seriously indicate that he wants to come out. The line…
“Truth is, since a kid, I thought it was a phase, thought it would be a phrase, poof, gone, but, it’s still going on”.
…would be difficult to mean something else. Having loads of mixed feelings as a kid, thinking they were just thoughts that would eventually fade out but they still haven’t left him. The title, Garden Shed, is like the closet. His verse opens up with “Garden shed, for the garden, that is where I was hiding, that is what love I was I in, ain’t no reason to pretend, garden shed for the garçons, them feelings that I was guarding”. The lyrics basically spell it out. In the same vein, in I Ain’t Got Time he literally says he’s been kissing white boys since 2004. Fair play to the guy.
Tyler gets super relatable in the song Boredom. The repeated hook “Boredom got a new best friend” and “Find some time to do something” resonates with us all and highlights how we all sometimes become impatient and desperate feeling weary because of how unoccupied we can get, or our perpetual lack of interest in stuff that is just so fucking boring. You might argue that the lyrics are a bit simple but for me they’re just refreshing. It puts across the message of the song and makes it so refreshingly relatable.
One of my personal favourites is the closing instrumental track, Enjoy Right Now, Today. The title is along the lines of what I’ve heard people saying before, whenever they were in a state of pure bliss, calm, and ecstasy. The track itself reminds me of a Boards of Canada track, specifically An Eagle In Your Mind. Both tracks always render a feeling of nostalgia, but giving me memories I never had, achieved by the obvious drumbeat, down to earth orchestra samples and childlike “Hey!”s.
One of the main two singles that were released before Tyler announced an album release date was 911/Mr. Lonely, which, in my opinion is the strongest on the album, in the sense that it will appeal to most people, more so casual fans than hardcore fans. 911/Mr. Lonely is a two part track, featuring Steve Lazy and Frank Ocean.
Throughout the whole song he makes countless references stating that his phone number is 911, which I think could possibly mean that he is encouraging us, the listeners, or fans, to dial the number and tell them of any problems or emergencies we might have. Which, in my opinion is a pretty cool way of telling your audience and fans to reach out for help. He ends the first half of the song with “I’m the loneliest man alive, but I keep on dancin’ to throw ’em off. I’m going to run out of moves ’cause I can’t groove to the blues.” Tyler’s character is very funny and carefree, but he’s saying here he only does it to coat his loneliness, and he can’t keep this facade up forever. Also if you’re a fan of Tyler and watched his fashion show on Vogue, you’ll know that the beat he used for it is the beat in 911.
The second part Mr. Lonely focuses more on Tyler’s sadness because of his lack of feeling with friends or anyone that can understand him or vibe with him. He opens up with…
“They say the loudest in the room is weak, that’s what they assume, but I disagree I say the loudest in the room is probably the loneliest one in the room (that’s me)”
…picking this apart and referring back to 911 it’s also the same sort of idea that he’s just being loud and funny just to throw everyone off his loneliness. He also thinks people think that he is a “fucking phoney” because he writes songs about people that do not exist, such as in his previous albums Goblin and Wolf, where he makes countless references to Wolf Haley, Sam and Ace, who aren’t really people, but his alter egos. Approaching the end of the song, he urges his friends to call him up to ask him how he’s really doing, instead of only calling him when they need something, so he never has to press that 911.
I can’t really talk about it enough to do the album justice, you just need to sit down and listen to it yourself. So far on his twitter, it seems like Sometimes and See You Again are Tyler’s favourites on the album. If you don’t know when you should check it out, he says “flower boy is golden hour/ sunset music if you’re wondering the best time to listen”, so now you know. Other honourable mentions include November, Pothole, and Where This Flower Blooms. Definitely my favourite Tyler, the Creator’s album so far.