We've come a long way since the days of OFWGKTA. The gang has split off to venture into various different positions in the urban landscape. Their de facto leader, Tyler, finds himself at the helm of a media empire, a bankable name that can cause controversy with any appearance in front the camera. No surprise that with the release of his new album, Flower Boy, that he's causing controversy with a 'did he really say that? I think he did. But surely not!?' narrative found in nearly all releases by the much-maligned album. Is it a good album though? Well...
To begin with, you can hear the progression as a producer and songwriter with Tyler. Gone are the days of purposeful antagonism (kinda), and a more reformed character almost trying to make amends for the vulgarity and outsider-ism of previous projects. For a start, Flower Boy is a remarkable improvement on the near N.E.R.D rip off that cherry bomb was, but it's also something else. It's the humanisation of a demonic character. The normalising of a boy so used to seclusion for just not being normal. For a time, when OF was in their prime that made sense. Every kid with their knock off bogo and old skools felt the empathy, but time passes. That kid with the penchant for tie dye and snapbacks gets a job, has to integrate into to the world and quit the anti authority shtick. Now it's Tyler's turn to fall in line. Albeit in the most outward Tyler way possible.
If you think of Channel Orange by Frank Ocean as the indie kid's first embrace of diversity, and experience of the pain of unrequited love, flower boy tries it's best to be that for the kid who just hasn't grown up yet. Songs like 'See You Again','Glitter' and 'Garden Shed' tackle Tyler's immaturity head on with declarations of love to this figurative spouse. But the question on everyone's mind, who might Tyler be referring to with his wistful longings and needs. Tyler has been quick to shoot down misheard lyrics on Garden Shed, but we're yet to know if he has or hasn't 'been kissing white boys since 2004'. This is a guy who pieced together 3 albums and a number of compilations with an over arching story narrative, as well as saying some out right horrific things that I severely doubt stand true now. Tyler is if you'll excuse the lingo, a master troll of epic proportions. Albeit a slightly reformed one, who would put it past him to offer something up on record, and not really mean it.
Outside of these cryptic messages, everything on display in this project is an incredible improvement for Tyler. Usual track Segways seen on previous records (think Partyisn'tover/Campfire/Bimmer) are dropped for a singular beat switch up on 911/Mr.Lonely, a welcome edition to the album that provides a nice counteracting narrative.
Stand out tracks on this record are the lead single 'Who Dat Boy', emotional ballad 'Glitter' and all round banger 'I Ain't Got Time', the latter which utilizes the same sample found at the beginning of Dee Lite's 'Grove is in the Heart', not that either track has anything in common at all. The pulsating bass and polyrhythmic drum grooves provide a caveat for a typical Tyler ear burner of a track.
All in all, we're talking about an impressive step for everyone's favourite delinquent, and as the title suggests it's one of the more soul baring moments we'll get in Tyler's career. Whether the rumours are true about Tyler's exclamations on the album, we'll have to see, but as a project Flower Boy shows a tenfold more reserved maturity than any OF project.