Tyler, the Creator has always been fidgety as a producer, showing range in what he makes, despite maintaining detailed and stylistic consistencies. He was always making something different, constantly evolving as an artist and getting better as he shifts focus on what is incorporating, like soul and rock elements. So when the roll-out began for Tyler, the Creator’s new album, Call Me If You Get Lost, my mind got lost in the whimsy from the photo-ops, marketing, and the first single, “LUMBERJACK,” which delivered an example of what was to come upon the album’s release; Tyler recreating a style once forgotten in time, the Gangsta Grillz style. Tyler follows up his last album, Igor, with shades of the past, fully transfixed in a conceptual style made famous by DJ Drama, who elevates his music to new heights and delivers to us Tyler’s best album to date.
DJ Drama’s presence is dynamic throughout the album. His incorporation is to keep the momentum going with the sequences of tracks as a way to reflect hype behind music, sonically created by artists who go a DIY approach. The first half of the album is dominated by tracks that have Tyler, the Creator flexing his own successes and reinforcing that there is no doubt to it.
With the initial release of “LUMBERJACK” making a statement about the direction Tyler, the Creator would take; it came to a surprise as it felt as a style that only seemed to match with Tyler’s energy. The content of his music and sonic styles he has steered towards prior was opposite to the complexions on this. But Tyler and DJ Drama co-create the atmosphere and refine the direct style Tyler is making, using his energetic charisma and bravado to shower over this album.
This is to no surprise, as Tyler, the Creator’s strength as a producer has shown continuous growth and has become as renowned as a classic Laurence Olivier play from the 50s. This expectancy gives fans a genuine surprise when they hear him create these lavish productions, always different and always new. He can shift from arrogant cues from the noise of the percussion and blaring horns to melodic piano and strings, both of which constantly bring backing power to the vocal harmonization on the more soulful moments, like the broken hearted track, “Sweet/I Thought You Wanted To Dance,” with Brent Faiyaz and Fana Hues; even though it has a slow pace, you never feel like a moment is fully wasted when it ends.
He switches tempo and BPM in his production, creating these unique contrasts that has allowed him to show his range in sound and technical construction, like the way “RISE!” shifts from an elevated blues-soul chorus to these slightly intense braggadocio rap verses from Tyler; however with these shifts, it shows us a new peak for Tyler that has been culminating throughout the years. He humbles himself and brings an outside voice to add to the production; electronic producer and DJ, Jamie xx, comes to help on the track “RISE!” and with Tyler, incorporates a hollow acoustic ambiance in the percussion within the transitions of the track.
The strengths with Tyler, the Creator and collaborations have shown within the orchestration of the tracks to reflect minimal comfort for the artists he brings as features. He has been able to give a lot of new rappers a platform to shine. He smoothly incorporates them without making it seem glaringly there for sales. This time around he brings Detroit’s 42 Dugg and Louisiana’s YoungBoy NBA on subsequent tracks, “LEMONHEAD,” and “WUSYANAME,” respectively. These two artists bring an A game, compared to what I’ve heard in the past from them. This could be due to them working with someone as meticulous as Tyler, but even so, not every feature lands. “JUGGERNAUT,” featuring Pharell and Lil Uzi Vert, fails to hit the marker as Lil Uzi completely steers you off the beaten path, despite Pharell’s attempts to bring you back in line. It continues to show the off-brand awkwardness that sometimes arises from Lil Uzi Vert rapping a flex-centric verse.
Other times we hear Tyler, the Creator lamenting on his past and his current stasis as he weighs many aspects of the world around him in contrast to his success. He focuses on topics like his struggles as an artist till the realization that he made it, freedom/travel, amongst others. These tracks start to transpire within the second half of the album, with tracks like “MASSA” and “WILSHIRE,” the former of which contrasts Tyler’s placement in the industry and his rise to prominence. The latter laments on conflicts within a platonic relationship with someone he had feelings for, but that person was seeing a close friend of his and he didn’t want to create a rift. The way Tyler executes these verses as stories let’s his technical ability as a rapper shine and reaffirm his stature amongst others.
Call Me If You Get Lost shows Tyler, the Creator consistent ascension toward greatness as he continues to surprise us with new sounds, album after album. After a slew of great releases that didn’t always come together tightly, Tyler finds an equilibrium that highlights his strengths as an artist in what could be deemed his best work of his career and creating a landmark within generalized nostalgia trends going about these days.