From the inception of Odd Future, Tyler the Creator has been an artist grounded in crude humor and vulgar language, and more often than not has ridden the line between being funny and simply being offensive. Six years ago it would’ve been hard to believe that Tyler the Creator was behind an album like Flower Boy, a piece in which he’s arguably more vulnerable than he’s ever been.
Tyler’s discography has sparked a great amount of controversy over the years, with it’s rampantly misogynistic and homophobic lyrics. Tyler’s music has also been banned in multiple countries, like Australia and the U.K. From Goblin to Cherry Bomb, hard-hitting beats paired with cacophonous vocals and lyrics defined Tyler’s sound and character.
Flower Boy is a shocking new take on Tyler’s sound, with constant themes of soft, summertime vibes. The album name in itself reflects that as well as the album cover, where you see him in a field surrounded by flowers with the sunset and ethereal clouds floating in the sky. Many tracks feature stellar R&B vocalists paired with orchestral beats that adds layers of warmth.
However, the bees swarming across the album cover capture the notion that this album isn’t all rainbows and butterflies; Tyler uses this album to grapple with a wide range of personal issues. Starting with “Foreword,” he sets the stage for the rest of the album, examining his self worth with contemplations of suicide. He expresses his loneliness and yearning for relationships in “Boredom” and “911/Mr. Lonely.” However, songs like “Glitter” and “See You Again” uplift spirits with their sentiments of love.
Probably the most controversial aspect of the album is Tyler coming out of the closet in a multitude of ways, a stark contrast to his previous homophobic demeanor. In Track 7 “Garden Shed,” Tyler goes into incredible detail describing hiding his sexuality out of fear. Later on in “November” he expresses his clear understanding that some of the people closest to him will distance themselves “‘cause of Track 7.” In “I Ain’t Got Time!” he exclaims “Next line will have ‘em like ‘woah,’ I been kissing white boys since 2004.” It can be said that perhaps Tyler’s homophobic front was a coping mechanism he used to get him out of what he thought was a “phase.”
Now if you’re a real hip-hop head like me, you spend lots of time dissecting lyrics, beats and flow. Flower Boy is definitely the most lyrically sophisticated album Tyler’s ever created. His flow is much more consistent, witty and honest. Songs like “Pothole” and “Who Dat Boy” are filled with verses of intentional, connected lyrics and metaphors. I definitely had to listen to it three times over before catching everything.
Clearly, I can talk about this album until I’m blue in the face. But seriously, listen to Flower Boy–you won’t regret it.