Album review: “IGOR” by Tyler, The Creator
Review by Michael Cottone
Witnessing Tyler, the Creator’s dazzling artistic progression from the days of the foul-mouthed Bastard to his 2017 fully-blossomed album Flower Boy was a remarkable process. He successfully and meticulously chiseled away at his adolescent angst and sculpted himself into a fully bloomed, vulnerable artist with a superb sense of self. Though the process has been elegant, Tyler has never failed to lose his distinctive musical edge. That edge maturely shines bright on his newest album IGOR.
Compared to the rest of his discography, rapping on IGOR is a bit more sparse and is exchanged with an intricate focus on how Tyler uses his voice in different ways. The first rap verse to make an appearance on the album comes halfway through “EARFQUAKE” with Playboi Carti snatching the vocals and letting himself do what he does best. Of course, there are quite a few instances where Tyler does full rap verses, like on the injections of energy that are “WHAT’S GOOD” and “NEW MAGIC WAND.” It can also be spotted on the poetically piano-driven “A BOY IS A GUN.” Tyler’s emotion is shown on his sleeve throughout this whole album lyrically, both passively and outspokenly. The tone in his voice on each track methodically fits into each songs production route. On “PUPPET,” his lifeless tone shows that control over his emotion has been seized from him. It’s evident that Tyler’s goal is to shed the label of being a rapper and not be tied down to any one path of expression.
Tyler proudly produced, wrote, and arranged all 12 tracks on his sixth full-length project. Lyrically, Tyler centralizes the album around themes of love, endings and the acceptance/denial that comes with a breakup. The record is littered with guests that are fittingly placed throughout its 40-minute duration. Subtle vocal assistance from Lil Uzi Vert and Solange sneak in on the opener “IGOR’S THEME,” kicking off the album with recurring lines. “Ridin’ round town they gon’ feel this one,” Uzi sings. It introduces the album with a psychedelic, hazy motif with the vocals being burrowed in the song’s complex production. Kanye makes an appearance on “PUPPET,” delivering a nasally sounding verse that accompanies the song’s uncertain feel marvelously. Tyler’s complex production never fails to play to his guests’ strengths on IGOR.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of IGOR is, in fact, Tyler’s eye-popping production ability. He has always had a distinct style and sense of meticulousness in what he produces, but he took it to another level on IGOR.His daring sound has demanded your attention since his career’s takeoff. He’s always taken pride in it. He remains uncompromising on the new record, he’s just more vocal in his pride – deservedly so. All 12 tracks flow seamlessly and take you through each and every phase that comes with the process of a breakup. “NEW MAGIC WAND” carries vengeful, dark energy to it that can be tied to the feeling of jealousy. The album’s closer “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS” has an uneasy feel to it that ends the album with a few loose ends and unresolved feelings, which tend to be apart of a breakup. “EARFQUAKE” has a sweet sound that feels like it’s Tyler’s last chance at winning his love back.
From start to finish, IGOR is an odyssey. You are taken directly into a world that Tyler, the Creator has built and curated for himself and anyone else going through a breakup or some sort of interpersonal change difficult to grasp. With this album, he has obtained the accolade of reaching #1 on the charts for the first time in his career. Tyler’s storytelling abilities and self-awareness have always been second to none, which tend to pave the way for exceptional artistic integrity. On IGOR, he proved he’ll never lose it.