Tyler, the Creator is a man on top of his game. The former Odd Future rapper released one of the best albums of 2017 in Flower Boy and has now returned two years later with a surprise release called IGOR, an album that continues his hot streak of records.
In an age where musician’s movements are monitored very closely and the album rollout gets longer and longer with endless promo and singles drops, IGOR is outside the norm. The album was announced barely two weeks before its release with no singles coming before release day. The man himself has since said that he “hates people who hype shit up for months,” meaning for him this “surprise” drop was a planned and calculated exercise.
The idea of springing a project on people to allow the focus to be squarely on the music from the get-go seems to have worked well for Tyler here, with the absence of singles allowing the music on IGOR to be interpreted as one coherent whole rather than just individual tracks mixed in with some hits. This, of course, is an aesthetic that worked so well for fellow Odd Future alumni Frank Ocean when he released Blonde in 2016.
IGOR kicks off with IGOR's THEME, an industrial synth-heavy piece that instantly hooks the listener into a tight grip, a grip that won’t be released until the album has finished. This is an important fact to note as in the liner notes for the album Tyler explains how this record should be listened to with no interruptions and without skipping any tracks.
The album then gathers pace with EARFQUAKE and I THINK, the former being a soul rap bop featuring Playboi Carti, before RUNNING OUT OF TIME featuring Frank Ocean and NEW MAGIC WAND featuring A$AP Rocky brings side one to a star-powered end.
Side two then kicks off with the soul-influenced A BOY IS A GUN with its prominent O-Jays sample and PUPPET which features guest vocals from Kanye West. The depth of guest star-power on IGOR is a testament to the respect Tyler has amongst his musical peers and henceforth the ability he has to draw on those peers for his own projects.
Next comes WHAT'S GOOD, an up-tempo track which features Tyler rapping more on an album that largely sees him explore his singing side, while the talented UK sensation Slowthai makes an appearance on backing vocals. This is followed by the six-minute experimental dreamscape of GONE, GONE/THANK YOU, the instrumentation of which was provided by psychedelic pop group Mild High Club.
The album then came to its climax with the quirky I DON'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE and finally, the soul balladry of ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? the latter which featured vocals from Pharrell, another big-name player on an album full of big names.
In summing up IGOR, I think it is fair to say that Tyler absolutely delivered with his follow up to Flower Boy. His problem has been consistency in the past and one could argue this is the first time he has managed to pull together two complete projects of quality in a row.
If Flower Boy was his Channel Orange, then IGOR is most definitely his Blonde and an album that works very nicely as a companion album to the more optimistic and colourful 2017 record.
Let’s just hope New Zealand immigration get a copy of this record soon as a trip down under from rap’s most loveable goofball is most definitely needed.
Your move New Zealand government.
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Released: 17 May 2019