• Marty Gross

Why Igor And Flower Boy Aren't The Best Tyler, The Creator Albums

What? HaVe YoU eVeN hEaRd IgOr Or FlOwEr BoY? Yes, I have listened to those albums because I’m not a music normie.  But, the statement you read at the top is true. Flower Boy and IGOR are great albums, but I think Cherry Bomb is the greatest album by Tyler, the Creator. To the Tyler fans reading this who probably wanted to stop after the title (thanks for staying with me!), I was once in your shoes. When I initially heard this album, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I thought the mixing of Tyler’s voice was poor, the instrumentals were too delusional, and the structure of the album was funky. But first impressions apparently don’t last forever... 

This beloved day came when my cousin and I were talking about Tyler’s music. He mentioned how he thought Cherry Bomb was top-tier and just a step below Flower Boy. At first I was outraged. I argued and argued trying to convince my deranged cousin my point, but my arguments fell flat because I had only given it one listen. Point after point were shut down by my cousin because of my lack of familiarization with Cherry Bomb. After the argument, I furiously threw on my earbuds and gave it a second listen. Little did I know what my ears were about to experience. Unique, psychedelic instrumentals; exceptional vocal manipulation; sneaky one-liners; powerful features; transformational beat changes, You name it! It was like I had never even listened to it the first time. I felt like a fucking idiot. 

Before I go in-depth on why this was such a great album, I have to address those pesky downsides that I foolishly got so caught up in to begin with. The title track “CHERRY BOMB” is simply a cluster fuck. Super distorted, barely audible and overall gives me a headache. The song “PILOT” has the same tone as “CHERRY BOMB” but is way too static-y. The synths are mixed way too high, which sounds annoying to my ears. But even though these tracks are the worst ones on the album, I respect that they are experimental. Now that we've got that antithesis out of the way, maybe you'll trust me more now that I'm getting to the good stuff. 

Throughout the album, each track leaves you with a different emotion and a new  perspective. The leading song “DEATHCAMP” starts off with a booming guitar riff by Cole Alexander. It’s chaotic. It’s grimy. It sets the tone for the first half of the album. Tyler’s flow in the song is scattered, but fits perfectly into the rhythm. He does normal Tyler things, like bragging about all the doubts others had about him and how he is now a rap genius. This song also begins the theme of classic one-liners throughout the album like “Them Golf Boys in this bitch like an infant” or “My heart is as dark as a window with a car tint”. At about the two minute mark, the song has a transformational beat change that takes away the guitar riff and transitions to a sweet piano, but then fades back to the guitar riff to end the nutty song.

 The next track “BUFFALO” is simply fantastic. Tyler uses a sample from the song “Shake Your Booty” by Bunny Sigler that dominates this track. The build up is incredible and Tyler goes off. His clever lyrics, authoritative drums and stunning synths make the song unreal. In the track, Tyler chooses an interesting feature; actor Shane Powers portrays either his management team or fans and really adds a creative spin to the song and puts Tyler’s “I don’t give a shit” mindset on display. The song “RUN” has a nice ScHoolboy Q feature and a beat that sounds like you are in a scene where you are “RUN”ning from police (ha, see what I did there??). The irony of the song’s juvenile beat is that the lyrics in this song talk about the stupidity of gang violence and the ignorance of smoking weed all the time. As Tyler’s voice is mixed really low, the voice manipulation and surprising strings really make the song intense and riveting. 

I know I've raved enough about the beginning of the album, but the real greatness is at the second half. The beginning of the second half begins with “FIND YOUR WINGS”. It starts with a one minute and twenty second build up that has so many teeming instruments. A creative use of xylophone, a sexy violin, and a gnarly piano sequence make it sound like a '70s soul song. It really puts a smile on your face. Kali Uchis, Roy Ayers, and Syd’s voices come in to blend with the sound track perfectly. Kali’s voice overpowers the vocals in this song, but Syd and Roy’s background vocals provide a soothing feel to the track. And, oh yeah, Tyler opens from the build-up with a crisp, minuscule verse that inspires the listener to find their wings and do what they truly want to.

The next track is the song “BLOW MY LOAD”. To be truthful, this song honestly made me a little uncomfortable when I first heard it, but is now apart of the top three songs on this album. This provocative track pretty much just talks about sex. As many may find it too grotesque and objectifying towards women, I don’t believe the song is to be taken literally. Tyler has said many times in interviews that his lyrics are sometimes not to be taken seriously, and I think that this song embodies that statement. To me, the song is supposed to metaphorically be diving into the mind of a teenage boy at our less-than-favorable times. As creepy and weird as it might sound, sometimes those thoughts can pop right in when a boy obsesses over a girl. I don’t think the thoughts are supposed to be cemented into a boy’s brain but the words in this song symbolizes the scattered thoughts of a teenage boy. It reminds me of the hit Netflix show “Big Mouth”. The words of the hormone monster (exactly what you think it is) are not what boys in puberty think all the time, it’s just what happens randomly. Apart from the lyrics, Wanya Morris’ voice is silky and adds so nicely to the track.

The next track “2SEATER” switches from sexual to blissful. The track has terrific piano chords, a jazzy saxophone, and a static-y guitar that really blend the song together. Samantha Nelson’s alluring voice really pushes the song’s jazzy feel to excellence. 2SEATER makes me feel like I’m cruising down the highway as a junior in high school with the top down, enjoying the beautiful atmosphere around me. It puts me in a state of euphoria and has my head swaying back and forth. The song is about Tyler’s adolescence and the “good ol’ days”. It really hits home to a college freshman like me and can connect to the listeners who are out of their teenage years.

“THE BROWN STAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6-12” (lowkey what the fuck is with the name?) provides a song that literally replicates a beat that ScHoolboy Q would have. So, that’s why ScHoolboy just murders the beat. The song is upbeat and makes the audience want to go crazy. “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” was a single that he dropped prior to the album but fits so perfectly with the track list. It demonstrates the struggle that some of us experience when you love someone but circumstances can’t make it work. In this song, Tyler discusses liking a girl who is too young. He talks about his immense struggles that he is thinking about and how it is crushing him that he can’t be with the girl he loves. When Kali Uchis comes in to sing from the girl’s perspective, she is simply dazzling. Her voice is fucking mesmerizing, and once you've been lulled by Kali's voice, "SMUCKERS" comes on and, holy shit, that song is a masterpiece.

This song is a straight banger from front to back. The piano arrangement is complex and graceful, yet hard. Tyler has a top-five verse in all of his discography and opens the track with all his ideals. The lines “Mom I made you a promise, there’s no more Section 8” and “Put this fucking cow on my level, cause I’m raising the stakes” show Tyler’s skill with crafty wordplay and powerful lyrics that the verse beholds. On top of that, Kanye West and Lil Wayne feature in this song to add crazy star power. Kanye decides to sing to open the verse which makes the song 10x more enjoyable. The song finishes with a beat change and Lil Wayne and Tyler bouncing off each other. The collaboration is enchanting.

As all the tracks that I have listed are absolutely fantastic, the closing track “OKAGA, CA” prevails as king. This track is the best track and a grand finale indeed. It is a six-minute eargasm from start to finish. Tyler has even said that it is a top-five song in his discography. Tyler mixes his voice in a very high tone and really sounds like a singer. Alice Smith has a very squeaky yet childish voice in this track that compliments Tyler. The instrumentals change so much throughout the song that it sounds like you are in a movie and riding along through the moment. The song takes so many twists and turns that signify the ups and downs in a relationship and it is a perfect closing song to the album which just gives the listener a blissful mood. 

If I haven’t convinced you with the greatness of this album, there is even a documentary made about this. The Cherry Bomb documentary goes through the beautiful creation of every song. It shows the reasons why Tyler chose the features he did, how he produced every instrumental, and what every OG track sounded like. He brought out a damn symphony orchestra for the track “2SEATER”. You can see the colossal amount of work Tyler put into every song, and see the thought process behind every song. It's truly astonishing. Even if you don't like the album as a whole, watch the documentary and simply respect the work that went into the birth of this album.   

As the documentary and the sheer listening of the album are simply astonishing, what truly makes Cherry Bomb special is how it laid out the groundwork for the success of Flower Boy and IGOR. In album’s like Goblin and Bastard, there wasn’t as much emphasis on crazy instrumentals and beautiful voices. They were RAP albums where there was strictly RAP music. This album was the first experiment of creating the style of Tyler’s music as of right now, but even crazier.  

As my opinion about this album is very favorable, most critics and fans did not like it. I have came to two conclusions on why many people have disliked this album. First being that it was so ahead of its time. The groovy instrumentals and voice manipulations were not on par with 2015’s style of music. Instrumentals were not as valued four years ago as they are today. A heavy emphasis on lyrics was still the norm. To Pimp a Butterfly was the 2015’s Grammy-winner which comes to show how much stress was put on lyrics.  Secondly, the common listeners' ears aren't mature enough. This album is not a pop album, nor it is not partially a rap album but a charming mood album. You need to absorb yourself in the instrumentals and respect the amazement of the narrative. At first, my ears weren't mature enough and that’s why I didn’t like it. I needed to really take a deep dive and observe.

I really think that y’all should check it out. Don’t play it in the background. Don’t play it with friends. Don’t play it unless you are giving it your full attention. Take some time, plug in your earbuds, lay in your bed, close your eyes, and just listen. Then, you will realize the elegance this album beholds. All I have to say is “Cherry Bomb the greatest album since the Days of Sound”. Peace!!