With the release of his sixth project, IGOR, Tyler Okonma has solidified himself as a staple in the music industry. From the unparalleled production levels, to the unconventional recruitments for features, all the way to the multitude of levels of him reaching into his bag and pulling out new trick after new trick.
IGOR is much less of an album than it is a mode of storytelling; it plays much more like one long symphony than a traditional mixtape/album. The totality of the piece is an abstract dive into Tyler’s diary, which feels as if it belongs in a much more beautiful, secluded dimension than the one we exist in.
The Burbs Team came together to answer some questions about the premature frontrunner candidate for the Album of the Year award.
Is Tyler, the Creator officially the best artist in the music industry?
Martian: I’m far from qualified to adequately evaluate the entire music industry and put a single artist at the top, but Tyler is my favorite right now. I still listen to “Flower Boy” frequently and even wrote it a pseudo-love letter on my Medium, so yeah, fuck it, he’s the best. It’s 10:21 and IGOR dropped 11.5 hours ago; I’m on my sixth listen through. That’s saying something.
Carter: This is a tough question to answer. Do I think Tyler’s the best artist in the ENTIRE music industry? I physically cannot provide a concrete response to this. However, I think he’s maybe the most creative young mind in the music industry - this I can say for sure.
Evan: I’m with Carter and Jack on how difficult it is to truly crown the best artist in the industry. That being said, I agree that Tyler is one of the most creative and eccentric minds in the industry by far. Ever since Odd Future, Tyler has been one of the few people in the industry that can truly say that they do whatever they want. Tyler’s evolution throughout his career has been amazing to witness, and to me personally, that speaks volumes to an artist’s standing and legacy.
Ralph: There isn’t another artist that has the range of talents that he does, and is excessively good at each of those talents. As far as bars go; Tyler is up there with the rest of the modern pantheon of hip-hop poets like Kendrick, Earl, Mac, and Vince. You wanna talk production? Name a better orchestrator for a mid-Spring picnic where you may or may not get broken up with. His talents speak for themselves, and each album he’s made so far has exhibited progression in his approach philosophically and instrumentally.
Hunter: This album definitely puts him up there but I don’t know if he is THE best.
Rank your favorite Tyler projects in order from Six to One.
Ralph: Fuck. Okay. Only cause I asked me to…
Flower Boy, Igor, Goblin, Wolf, Bastard, Cherry Bomb
But ask me again in six weeks.
Evan: Flower Boy & IGOR for the first place tie, then Wolf, Goblin, Bastard, Cherry Bomb
Martian: Flower Boy, IGOR (could easily overtake the top spot by the end of the day), Goblin, Cherry Bomb, Wolf, Bastard
What’s your tweet length review of IGOR?
Martian: I feel like I just rolled seven Tropical Red Bull’s and a dime bag of Blue Dream into a Dutch underneath a public playground slide.
Hunter: Vintage Synths ✅
Penis Hard ✅
Carter: Igor, in 40 impeccably arranged minutes, manages to thrust itself into the forefront of modern rap history as one of the genre’s most sonically challenging records - while simultaneously presenting a complex love story at odds.
Evan: IGOR = AOTY (rn)
Ralph: A floral pattern button-down shirt that has my bae’s ex’s bloodstains all over it. Or is that my blood? I don’t even know, last night was fucking wild.
Martian, in response to Ralph's above comment: Jesus, man.
Who had the most surprising feature, AND who had the best feature?
Martian: Kanye’s was definitely the most surprising. We had to run it back the first time because there was a moment of eyes bolting around the room and “Is that… Yeezy?” The way he’s included in the song is intriguing and exultant; it got me thinking of what Yandhi could be.
As I’m writing, my eleventh or twelth full listen through is happening in the background and Carti’s feature still stands above the rest to me. I said earlier that I can’t pick a favorite song because the album truly deserves to be listened from front-to-back, but “EARFQUAKE” is, and presumably will be, my most re-listened to song. Carti is a big part of that.
MARTIAN’S SIDENOTE: Holy shit. Yeah, Uzi fucking killed it now that I know that it’s him singing on IGOR’S THEME. I love to picture him just moving his shoulders and having the best time of his life in the studio and doing a cute little heel click as he jumps out after a long day of recording the audio version of the Mona Lisa.
Carter: Most surprising: Kanye’s background vocals and brief verse on “PUPPET” - Tyler morphs his voice to fit what seems to be a character arc at that point in the album, so it’s a Kanye we’ve never heard before.
Best feature: Charlie Wilson and Playboi Carti is, quite possibly, the most incredible roll of the dice “collaboration” on a single track… I mean dude, holy fuck. For that alone, I’ll say those two.
Evan: This is a tough one; all of the features were surprising in their own, unique way. The Frank feature had me truly flabbergasted, but the Kanye feature sent me into pure euphoria. The Carti feature is unforgettable, further enhanced by the help of Charlie Wilson and Dev Hynes. I won’t lie; I listened to the “EARFQUAKE” leak religiously until IGOR finally dropped. So, if I had to choose the most surprising, I’d probably go with Frankie. The best feature would have to go to Ye.
Ralph: Wait, Uzi was the lead singer on IGOR’S THEME? Are you sure? Or are you just fucking with me? *listens again* OHHH SHIT. THANK YOU, TYLER. THANK YOUUUUU. Give me Mini Handgun Upwards as the most surprising feature, and the best cause I just can’t even comprehend how this is even happening right now. I’m still shook.
Hunter : Surprising and Best - Uzi… Him being on that opening track made everything so much better. I love when artists can use other artists on a track where they usually wouldn’t be. Kanye does this a lot.
Has any artist made more progression from their first project to their most recent than Tyler? (Bastard-IGOR)
Evan: Honestly, I don’t think so. Kanye is arguable, of course. Mac also evolved a hell of a lot throughout his career (RIP King). But, Tyler has definitely changed stylistically more than anyone else in the game. Bastard and Goblin compared to Flower Boy and IGOR is one of the craziest discography contrasts of any artist out right now. It’s been very satisfying watching his evolution unfold over the years; Wolf and Cherry Bomb were great displays of Tyler’s growth and early experimentation. However, one thing has always stayed consistent - Tyler has always remained true to himself. His honesty and confidence have paved the way for his evolution.
Martian: Probably not, right? Spotify’s “Dissect” of Flower Boy has been an awesome look into one of my all-time favorite projects, and the first episode does a deep dive into Tyler and OF’s origins, including looks at the respective creations and launches of Wolf and Cherry Bomb. It’s safe to say that Tyler has come a long ways since and I can’t wait to see where his continued evolution takes him next.
Ralph: From, “This is what the Devil plays before he goes to sleep,” to “I can’t decide whether I’m happier with or without you, my closeted soulmate who may not even be worth my damn time,” Tyler has taken his ride or die fans on a truly twisty-turny journey.
Over the past decade I’ve listened to this man sabotage, threaten, and verbally annihilate the female gender under the mask of a fictional persona, and now I’m witnessing him blossom into a modern day Beethoven through his chords, synths, and precise progressions. If he’s not the walking, breathing, living example that one can change for the better, then I don’t know who is.
What are your thoughts on the consistent vocal distortion and pitch adjustments?
Martian: Stick with me because my musical terminology is pretty limited, but I absolutely adore it. The frequency changes made the first listen-through that much more sublime. I’ve spent hours listening to this album since it came out and the production still amazes me; I catch something new every time. Over the last year or so, my appreciation for production and all the layers of beats and songs has grown immensely, and IGOR is the culmination of that. The album is a joy to listen to in its entirety and the production is among the cleanest and most complete I’ve ever heard.
Ralph: Nobody sounds like anybody, and nothing sounds like everything. Except for Tyler’s music. He can make anybody sound like anything, and can make one thing sound like everything. YA GET ME?
Hunter: This album is incredible because it doesn't have a genre, it is just an amazing collection of sounds, and I feel like the pitch adjustments and vocal distortion help the album keep that cohesive.
Evan: Personally, I love it. The vocal mixing on this album almost makes IGOR feel like artist-less music; you don’t focus on Tyler or the features as much as you focus on how good it all sounds in harmony. In a way, I feel like it also allows for more anonymity and creativity (less sonic boundaries). The pitching also definitely gives me Blonde vibes thanks to classics such as “Nikes” and “Futura Free”. I am confident that Tyler pulled some influence from Blonde, as well as from artists such as Kanye and Tame Impala who have utilized similar vocal mixing in the past.