Review: Tyler, The Creator Releases Bold, Innovative New Album 'IGOR'

Tyler, The Creator has evolved once again on 'IGOR' with one of the best albums of the year so far.
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Tyler, The Creator Igor Cover Art

Tyler, The Creator has released his new album IGOR. He teased various clips from the record over the past few weeks, though without naming the songs, and gave fans a taste of the record without giving too much to make assumptions. He played the show don’t tell card used in writing.

As he has done in the past, there is a clear evolution from Flower Boy to IGOR. His music is constantly in motion; moving forward and often leaving his competitors behind as they use the same recycled beats for five years. It isn’t strictly a rap album, but rather channels soul, touches of synth electronics, psychedelic, indie rock touches and more. There are moments where he goes in and uses that pen to rap like on “What’s Good,” but this is much more than a rap album.

This album overall sounds light and joyous, but at its core it is a dark exploration of the failures of love. Just look at the song titles “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING,” “I DON”T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” and “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS” and the dark belly of this record comes to the fore. It is this dichotomy of playful instruments against sadder lyrics that has become quite popular in pop music today, but often without much substance behind it or interesting production.

Not every song is filled with light production – there are some heavy tracks that you would expect from Tyler, The Creator. He gets lets his anger go over grinding, bass rattling beats on “NEW MAGIC WAND” and “WHAT”S GOOD.”

Just looking at the tracklist one wouldn’t know, but he has some big names on the record like Playboi Carti, Kanye West, Pharrell, A$AP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert. Instead of just setting aside a verse for them, the artists are used in a variety of manners. Lil Uzi Vert softly sings background vocals to IGOR’S THEME,” while Kanye West rapping is blended into the background of “PUPPET.” Playboi Carti is joined by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Charlie Wilson to sing on the earnest and soulful “EARFQUAKE” as they yearn for a former lover to come back, “Don't leave, it's my fault, Cause when it all comes crashing down—I need you!/'Cause you make my earth quake/Oh you make my earth quake!"

As the album progresses, he advances through various phases of grief from heartbreak. It doesn’t always follow in a linear pattern and make sense, but that is what happens when you go through heartbreak. He is chasing the person in the first half, eventually trying to compete with an ex on “NEW MAGIC WAND.” Rocky, Tyler and Santigold drone on in the hook “Please don't leave me now (I can make her leave)." He starts to come to terms with the end of this relationship on “GONE, GONE THANK YOU.” He sings in the chorus, “My love's gone, my love's gone,” but still can’t over this other woman, I hope you know she can't compete with me.”

He eventually realizes his fate in as honest a way as he can on “I DON”T LOVE YOU KNOW MORE” telling himself that same message over and over until it makes sense and feels real. In the outro, he speeds through the character development like Game Of Thrones Season 8 and wonders if they can still be friends?

Tyler, The Creator has always been a hip-hop innovator. His music is constantly evolving like his art and clothing. IGOR is his boldest and potentially greatest step towards evolving his sound beyond rap into something that he has molded in his own image. It is eclectic, a little weird and powerful. 

Stream the album below and get your copy here. Listen to the full album all the way and feel the story being told from start to finish.

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