The Summer Hip-Hop Trifecta (Part 2): Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy
Jing Bo dives into the second of three album reviews from this summer.
Back for part 2 of the Summer Hip-Hop Trifecta from BROCKHAMPTON, Tyler, The Creator and Vince Staples.
In part 1 I reviewed Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory and here I’m going to review Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy.
For album reviews, I like to start with some general/overarching points and then go through each song one by one with some small observations. I put a ‘+’ besides songs that are my favourite.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album and in particular Tyler’s bars. The songs I would recommend listening to the most would be See You Again, Who Dat Boy, Garden Shed, and November. It’s hard to discuss Tyler without being dragged into all the controversy that he is involved in. In fact, the original title of this album was “Scum F*ck Flower Boy” which begs controversy; this might have been worthwhile to discuss had music companies allowed Tyler this latitude.
Tyler is constantly pushing boundaries and in particular what is deemed appropriate vs inappropriate. I remember in high school hearing Yonkers for the first time. The first line of Yonkers became engrained in my head: “I’m a f*ckin’ walkin’ paradox— / No I’m not”. This line is a great representation of the artistic pursuit of Tyler. It demonstrates not only Tyler’s fantastic lyricism but also a scathing introspection of his own image or ego. A great artist imbues within their works a glimpse into their personal lives while simultaneously balancing the fact that the personal will be public through their work. Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy represents a growing understanding of what it means to be an artist and a person.
Before I go through the tracks I want to give some thoughts on the controversy about whether Tyler actually came out during this album. A couple years ago, Tyler had been accused of being homophobic because of his use homophobic slurs. This is coupled with his use of racial slurs and combining them with offensive racial imagery. Tyler also frequently trolls the public just for fun. With these points in mind, it’s up to the listener to decide whether what Tyler is saying on this album are earnest. In my opinion, Flower Boy is a brutally honest window into the mind of the paradoxical enigma of Tyler, The Creator. The tone of the lyrics, the features, and production all indicate that this is a mature, introspective, and evaluative Tyler, The Creator. Tyler never really hid his sexuality which is funny that the homophobic accusations even started in the first place.
“How many raps can I write ‘til I get me a chain? / How many chains can I wear ‘til I’m considered slave?” Tyler starts the album hard with some great bars. This one, in particular, evokes a powerful image. A very introspective opening to the album which already signals a more mature album.
Where This Flower Blooms
This song has a sick beat and with some great Frank Ocean vocals. Still a slow start to the album with some swelling piano in the final half minute.
A short interlude with loneliness clearly on the mind.
See You Again (+)
“I said, okay, okay, okay, okie dokie, my infatuation Is translatin’ to another form of what you call it? — Love” A theme that I didn’t mention earlier is that a lot of the loneliness Tyler is feeling appears to not just social loneliness but also romantic. It’s clearly a foundational theme to this album.
Who Dat Boy (+)
Sick atmosphere from the very first note and builds a great feeling of suspense through the song. A$AP Rocky references Vince Staples which vindicates the reputation of the artists I’m writing about in this series. This song bangs. More of a traditional hip-hop song with dope bars.
Great lyricism especially when emphasizing the feeling of awk-/-ward by placing the word in two lines. More discussions of loneliness or isolation. Apprehension about future responsibilities. Very visual song in terms of the sound effects evoking the cinematic.
There’s discussion that a Garden Shed is a metaphor for a closet which I’m inclined to agree with. Tyler’s whisperings in the back of songs and throughout the album creates a unique listening experience by demanding the listener’s constant attention. Great distorted guitars into simple strumming. And these lines are just genius: “A couple butterflies wanna float But I was always like, “Eh” Barely interested, but bagged just to brag to my boys like, “Bruh” This is a crucial subject matter Sensitive like cookin’ batter ‘Til the temperature that’s risin’ Steppin’ on that ladder, tryna Grab the rings of Saturn, I’ma Planet by the time you hear this Shit and chatter ’bout the heat It will not f*ckin’ matter”
Beautiful harmonies throughout the background of the song. Desire for the social. This is a longer drawn out song; evokes the name of the song. Funny that “I Ain’t Got Time!” comes right after the longest song in the album.
I Ain’t Got Time!
“I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004”. I mean it doesn’t get much clearer than that. The beat is very visceral here.
911 / Mr. Lonely (+)
Again, Tyler feels alone and vulnerable in 911 the first half of the song and in Mr. Lonely there is the line: “Loudest person in the room is probably the loneliest.” Some of Tyler’s Hardest hitting lines. Really emphasizes his isolation.
Lil Wayne is a hilarious inclusion.
The beginning of the winding down of the album done here. Uncertainty. Self-awareness about what he’s done as an artist. Going back to nostalgia rather than moving forward. The song the mimics the pain of constantly dragging the past back to the present.
This song is a perk-up from November. A lot of polarism in this song.
Enjoy Right Now, Today
End of the album/song leaving the car. The title of the song emphasizes living in the moment and not in your November.
Jing Bo Yu is a 2L and the Culture Editor for Juris Diction