The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 6-25-21 – 7-1-21, Tyler The Creator’s “Call Me If You Get Lost”
It has been ten years since Tyler, The Creator’s debut album, the superb and one of a kind Goblin, a snapshot of the rapper as a deeply confused young man. But then the Odd Future star followed it up with Wolf and Cherry Bomb, both of which could get him cancelled today except:
1 – They weren’t dropped today
2 – Their exuberance saves them.
3 – In rap, they cancel someone by putting a bullet in their brains
But it was coming out as bi-sexual in lyrics for Flower Boy in 2017 that brought him back from the misogyny and homophobia of his first three albums and Igor was even better. The Grammy winning Igor was a trip, a neo-r&b and rap story of romantic infatuation between two men, that culminated in a breakup and moving on. The concert was the best I’ve ever seen (my review here) from Okonma (as in Tyler Gregory Okonma) and not just because his honesty is brave and his sound is a variant on jazz rap with “Earfquake” garnering half a billion streams on Spotify alone, but because in its self-awareness it connected to the most vulnerable among us.
Which leads us to today’s album # 6 (#7 if you include the 2009 mixtape Bastard) CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, vocally he sounds more like early Tyler, but the album is art-rap, with jazz leanings, 13 short ones that segue and two long ones, including the album highlight. The sublime masterpiece (on early listens!) is the ten minute plus “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” which functions as sweet soul music (it owes a whole lot to Gamble And Huff) , and not only gives the album its title but in French as well! The benediction of the song, and Brent Fairuz, who I always considered nondescript a r&b singer sounds great, makes it so good natured and such true love that everything makes you feel great, “God gotta know he might have peaked when he made you” is both funny and gentle.
If the other long one “Wilshire” isn’t as good, it makes sense of Tyler making out with a girl while leaning on his car till another man shows and she leaves with the other guy. That is a snapshot of the album, it is to hetereosexuality what Igor is to homosexuality, a broken apart infatuation where he is left for her true love, though he isn’t as devastated as he was on “Gone Gone/Thank You” .
Call Me If You Get Lost has so much going for it, but, with exceptions, it isn’t the deeply melodic metaphor for love that Igor was. The shorter songs, averaging two minutes, are closer to his earliest work and are wordy spurts of high energy tracking on “Lemonhead” with 42 Dugg doing the right thing, one of several featured artists including Lil Uzi Vert, Pharrell, Lil Wayne, and more. The songs have tremendous backing tracks and including everything from whistles to flutes, the beats are tricky but not for Tyler, a fluid rapper who sounds harsh and dangerous even when he isn’t. The songs are so fully formed and different yet the same as the template the now 30 year old rapper is both moving forward and backward at the same time, compare him to Weezy on “Hot Wind Blows” where Tyler’s guttural voice is played in contradistinction to Weezy’s nasal smackdown flow. The song is a “look what I got” as Tyler (aka Baudelaire here) and Weez enjoy their riches and women, and it sounds great though a little disinteresting lyrically, though the segue into “Massa” (a self-portrait) is the essence of the musical concept in two songs.
While this isn’t as great as Igor (or Goblin come to think of it), it is absolutely great and will catch on. Plus “Sweet/I Thought You Wanted To Dance” makes you wish Tyler would attempt a straight up soul song. the album, like his last one, finds Tyler alone again. Can’t wait to hear what happens next.