Album Review: Tyler, the Creator – Wolf

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Somewhere in between Tyler, the Creator’s debut album Goblin and his crew’s collective release, The OF Tape Vol. 2, I stopped caring for most of Odd Future – specifically Tyler. At the beginning of his career, Tyler’s voice seemed cool and disctinct, while his rapping was certainly entertaining to hear. Yet, his lyrics were unmemorable past his first mixtape, Bastard, and ran purely on shock value tactics. Over these last three years, the more and more I heard Tyler rap, the more I understood that without his collective dropping mixtapes and albums every month or so, Tyler by himself doesn’t shine as he used to in his Bastard and Goblin days. His Odd Future collective do a great job of aiding in overshadowing each other’s mistakes and sometimes sloppy deliveries to the point where everything the crew does together or individually is deemed as “charming,” since they’re all relatively still young and fresh on the scene.

Sadly, a lot of Tyler’s charm is lost on Wolf, and the once proud Satan-spawn of Eminem and 90’s hardcore hip-hop is losing momentum, as Tyler constantly recycles rhymes and proves just how much angst he’s still got leftover from Goblin. With his first release, Bastard, Tyler showcased a misunderstood teenager, speaking for the underdogs who didn’t have fathers growing up and rapped as a young violent killer with teenage love and confusion on his mind. On Goblin, Tyler learned what fame and money could do to that young bastard, churning out angst into chant-worthy rap-alongs and hype ballads, similar to punk rock anthems. Now, with Wolf, it really just seems like Tyler has a leftover surplus of angst and annoyance with fame he already touched on with Goblin.

Back in 2011, Tyler had an interview with SPIN in which he revealed: “Talking about rape and cutting bodies up, it just doesn’t interest me anymore… What interests me is making weird hippie music for people to get high to. With Wolf, I’ll brag a little more, talk about money and buying shit. But not like any other rapper, I’ll be a smart-ass about it.” It’s 2013 and we’re now given an album that decides to replace the content of “rape and cutting bodies up,” with saying different variations of “faggot,” simultaneously using Frank Ocean as defense for the rapper not being homophobic. Recycle that reference a few times through the album, add that with a few raunchy lines like “Address my little dick as Ike / Twenty says I hit your wife,” “Ain’t been this fucking sick since brain cancer ate my granny up,” and sprinkle a little fame-angst in the mix such as “I wanna quit, but I can’t / Because mother and sister can’t pay the rent,” and you’ve got all the lyrical content of Wolf. Tyler will tell you how his fans are faggots, how much he doesn’t enjoy fame, how rich he is from doing petty things such as rapping and selling socks, and how everyone will continually eat it up and give him more cash – especially those already into the Odd Future scene.

Might’ve expected too much from Wolf lyrically, but it has been previously stated by Tyler himself that Wolf’s main focus would be the record’s production. That bit of charm that Tyler has left shines throughout the album’s beats, definitely. The Neptunes have been a tremendous obsession for Tyler, the Creator and his production method, and the album demonstrates the impact the beat-makers had on the young rapper thoroughly. “Awkward,” provides a feel-good love song, similar to the feeling of a track on his previous album, “Analog,” showing affection but still keeping it juvenile enough to say “fuck,” whenever it gets too sappy. The short Frank Ocean-backed “Bimmer,” showcases a catchy, multi-layered track that shows Tyler rapping about a girl he’s infatuated with, with Ocean cooing in the background under lazy kick-drums and pitch-crazy synths.

Serenading also happens with Erykah Badu and Pharrell appearing on two of the album’s songs, “Treehome95,” and “IFHY.” Badu sings about a treehouse in the most sensual way she possibly can over a smooth piano-laden beat, backed with silky bells and a plinky-keyboard. “IFHY,” brought out the early-2000’s Pharrell that nearly sounds like the track could be a Jay-Z feature. “Trashwang,” the bass-heavy posse-cut for the album, gives Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman something to shriek along to, with Left Brain, Lucas, L-Boy, Na-kel and Taco yelling ignorant verses for a maximum hype effect.

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Just as previous efforts from Tyler, Wolf is a concept album involving a few of Tyler’s alter egos. This album, from what I’ve gathered via multiple listens, involves Wolf Haley and new character, Samuel, attending the same summer camp, “Flog Gnaw (Golf Wang backwards, folks),” together. Dr. TC introduces Wolf and Samuel, and off the bat the two hate each other. Wolf has Tyler balancing the roles of Samuel, Wolf Haley, and himself, with Wolf and Samuel going back and forth about a girl named Salem, and leaving Tyler alone to rap about being too famous. Other Odd Future members appear on songs that serve as fight-anthems when Samuel and Wolf Haley really get into it, on later tracks on the album.

Now, Wolf isn’t a terrible album, but it’s also nothing spectacular. The instrumentals are what really drive this record, though production quality and mixing may be a tad rough for some to enjoy. If you’re looking for something of quality and substance, Wolf doesn’t have much to offer. Production is heavily reminiscent of early 2000’s Neptunes, with a touch of 90’s booming hip-hop, so the beats will give you an impressive force. As for lyrics and subject matter, I don’t think you can expect much from Tyler aside from a few teenage-love songs, “my fans are fags,” and angsty fame jokes. Not the strongest staple in the OF discography, but a notch under the belt for the potty-mouthed artist, nonetheless.

3/5