#6 Album of The Year: Tyler The Creator- Wolf

Posted: December 30, 2013 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , , ,

A lot has changed since Odd Future first burst onto the national scene after exploiting the power of the Internet to showcase their raw musical/creative talents. Tyler The Creator started as the teenage ringleader of the group who expertly promoted their shock value heavy music and in doing so gained a cult following fan base. But nowadays Odd Future is less about causing a ruckus and have matured as overall artists. Earl Sweatshirt is back from Samoa and better than ever. Frank Ocean is a Grammy award winning artist working with the likes of Jay Z and Kanye West. And now with Tyler the Creator’s 3rd studio album Wolf, we are officially reintroduced to the true musical talents of the man behind the massive movement.

If you are familiar with Tyler’s previous work, you know that he has an affinity for including fictional characters in the context of his albums. He does so again on Wolf and the folks at RapGenius do a good job at setting the scene for the project:

“Wolf is a loose narrative of a summer camp for psychologically inhibited teens/children told through the eyes of two facades of Tyler’s own personality named Wolf and Samuel. The two personalities are polar opposites of each other both trying to gain the affection of a girl named Salem. While Wolf and Samuel both share an affinity for wanting to be loved and accepted, Wolf is pure of heart, while Samuel is violent and murderous. Salem is the girlfriend of Samuel at the beginning of the album, but eventually starts a relationship with Wolf that throws Sam into a rage and leads to an altercation between the albums two star characters.”

Similar to something that would come from the mind of Shakespeare, Tyler makes songs from the perspective of both characters that somehow tie into the multi-dimensional qualities of his own artistic personality. An example would be on the track “Cowboy” in which he uses the alter ego’s to reflect on childhood days when life was simpler and the isolating aspects of fame did not exist. The personal stories over darkly melodic production continue on the voice distorted “Awkward”, which highlights a young boy falling for a girl that is closed off with a nice Frank Ocean assisted outro.

While Tyler reverts to old form on loud, boisterous tracks such as “Trashwang”, in which he is joined by fellow Odd Future cohorts, and “Domo23”, on this project he is at his best when the mood is serious and sinister. A standout cut on the album that reflects this is “Answer”, a song that showcases Tyler at a raw emotional state of mind as he laments the absence of his father in his life. While tracks like these prove Tyler’s growth as a songwriter and that his technical lyrical skills have improved (see “Slater”), it is his Neptunes influenced production that stands out the most. He even enlists his idol Pharrell as a guest on the song “IFHY” that is full of synths and jazzy chord changes. While records that feature the beautiful vocals of Erykah Badu “Treehome95” would be better off not preceding tribal, wilding-out cuts like “Tamale”, the fact Tyler can excel within such opposite sonic extremes is flat out impressive.

Tyler the Creator stretches his imagination to the fullest on Wolf and is not limited by any lack of ambition. From the personal self-reflective songs to other tracks that cover themes such as the consequences of bullies in schools (“Pigs”), the conflicted conscience of drug dealers (“48”), and overzealous/obsessive fans (“Colossus”), it is clear that the boundless mind of Tyler can travel at warp speeds. Everything spills onto the page correctly for Tyler and we are blessed with the captivating body of work that is Wolf. One minute Tyler could be trading lyrical darts with fellow Odd Future members (“Rusty”) and the next he could be flowing over smooth grooves with Frank Ocean present to lend his extraordinary vocals (“Bimmer”). But what Wolf concretely proves is that as a truly creative artist, Tyler has no limits and his musical growth on the project compared to his past work results in one of the best albums of 2013.

Listen to Wolf below and let us know what you think of the review/rating.







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