Flower Boy, Tyler the Creators’ 4th Studio Album, has proven to be his most introspective project yet. The track list of the album covers a wide range of musical themes that push it to the second spot of our Top Albums of 2017 list. In order to fully understand the importance of this project, you must first look at the creator, pun intended.
Tyler Gregory Okonma, a creative renegade with no filter and 100% originality. Tyler was once asked the meaning of some of his lyrics, and in a stereotypical tyler response he said, “Nothing, it’s just sh*t to piss old white people off”. A man that once called himself a unicorn, said he could be anything, and then proceeded to call himself a f’ing table. Tyler is known for his off the wall lyrics, his graphic/intense music videos, and my personal favorite, making the best cinnamon waffles known to man (If you haven’t seen that video, its amazing. Please check it out if you want to procrastinate for 5 minutes.).
Tyler’s previous projects, Bastard, Goblin and Wolf, have been described as zainy, bleak and uncompromising; however, Flower Boy, creates a stark contrast to those album, and you can feel it instantly. On the first track “Foreword” ft. Rex Orange County, he starts by questioning his motivation in what seems to be an increasingly materialistic world that he is enthralled in. Asking himself, how long will his fame last and how will he be remembered when he’s gone. These types of questions perfectly set the tone of the album as Tyler will continually explore his inner self and the meaning of life itself. The production on this track, as it is with the whole album, is brilliant. Beats on this album tend to be pretty light and bouncy, with the exception of “Who Dat Boy” ft. A$AP Rocky. This specific track starts with an eerie 53 second combination of strings, pianos and synths which leads to Tyler’s first verse. Here he gives his most aggressive delivery on the project and A$AP compliments him brilliantly as well with a passionate verse with great flow. We get a first glimpse at later themes to be unraveled when he mentions that he is “looking for his ‘95 Leo”.
Much of this album deals with Tyler reflecting on his sexuality. On “Where This Flower Blooms” ft. Frank Ocean, Tyler uses the word ‘bloom’ as a metaphor for coming out. This track sensibly includes close friend Frank Ocean, who has also ‘bloomed’ himself when he wrote a letter in 2013 detailing his first love with a man. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend to do so. Frank put everything out there for the world to see and he set a precedent of acceptance that would later help other artists, like Tyler or Kevin Abstract, to follow in his footsteps. When you look at track 7, “Garden Shed”, Tyler’s proverbial closet, he rapped:
Garden shed, garden shed, garden shed, garden shed
For the garden
That is where I was hidin’
That was real love I was in
Ain’t no reason to pretend
Garden shed, garden shed, garden shed
Garden shed for the garçons
Them feelings that I was guardin’”
Expressing his previously hidden, but hinted to at times, feelings of his sexuality. This is something that has brought a greater sense of reality and humanity to Flower Boy compared to his past works. Often known as an eccentric and crazy dude, Tyler finally shows the other side of him, who he really is.
This album gives us a deep and long look into the inner workings of Tyler. We learn about his fears, his “Boredom”, his feelings of isolation and loneliness and his sexuality. He presents his emotions and thoughts in a package that is so remarkably wistful, relatable and refined that you can’t help to respect the time and effort he put into creating this project. This is an album that, in my opinion, you can listen to without skipping a single track and be entertained. With lyrics that are thought provoking and production that is filled with, as pitchfork puts it, “glowing oddball orchestrations, unpredictable chord progressions, and adorned by choruses of sweet voices”. Flower Boy creates a motley of unique sounds along with a very unique perspective which makes this album one of a kind.