Tyler, The Creator announced the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Flower Boy’ in a tweet after much anticipation, with a new album entitled ‘IGOR‘ which dropped last Friday. IGOR is not the collaborative album with A$AP Rocky that I so hoped were in the works, which I thought would have arrived by now to our nearest streaming services. Well, I guess, no, we can’t have it all after all. On the flip side, after much silence, one The Grinch reboot inspired EP and a few standalone tracks later – I am honestly just grateful he dropped a full-length album at this point because something is better than nothing and IGOR is definitely something. However, before you dive into this album head first, Tyler has laid down instructions for your very first listen of the project on Twitter:
“IGOR. THIS IS NOT BASTARD. THIS IS NOT GOBLIN. THIS IS NOT WOLF. THIS IS NOT CHERRY BOMB. THIS IS NOT FLOWER BOY. THIS IS IGOR. PRONOUNCED EEE-GORE. DONT GO INTO THIS EXPECTING A RAP ALBUM. DONT GO INTO THIS EXPECTING ANY ALBUM. JUST GO, JUMP INTO IT. I BELIEVE THE FIRST LISTEN WORKS BEST ALL THE WAY THROUGH, NO SKIPS. FRONT TO BACK. NO DISTRACTIONS EITHER. NO CHECKING YOUR PHONE NO WATCHING TV NO HOLDING CONVO, FULL ATTN TOWARDS THE SOUNDS WHERE YOU CAN FORM YOUR OWN OPINIONS AND FEELINGS TOWARDS THE ALBUM. SOME GO ON WALKS, SOME DRIVE, SOME LAY IN BED AND SPONGE IT ALL UP. WHATEVER IT IS YOU CHOOSE , FULLY INDULGE. WITH VOLUME. AS MUCH AS I WOULD LIKE TO PAINT A PICTURE AND TELL YOU MY FAVORITE MOMENTS, I WOULD RATHER YOU FORM YOUR OWN. IF WE EVER CROSS PATHS, FEEL FREE TO ARTICULATE WHAT THOSE MOMENTS WERE FOR YOU, KEEP IT TIMELY THO IM NOT TRYNA HAVE AN OPRAH EPISODE. STANK YOU SMELLY MUCHO.“
Capisce? As simple as that. With that said, hit the play button on the first track of the album, ‘IGOR’S THEME’ and you will almost immediately notice the jarring synths throughout the song which welcomes but also prepares the listeners for the sound of the album as a whole. The introductory track ultimately presents you with an idea of what the rest of the album will sound like which piques the listeners’ interest to further delve into the album. Moving on, in the song ‘EARFQUAKE’, Tyler lets us know how he feels for his lover by comparing it to an earth quake, “Riding around, your love is shakin’ me up / And it’s making my heart break / ‘Cause you make my earth quake”. He informs his lover he simply cannot do without their love while desperately begging for his lover to stay despite his shortcomings he bravely admits to in the bridge of the song, “Don’t leave, it’s my fault / ‘Cause when it all comes crashing down I’ll need you” The rapper even dropped the video the day after the album’s release.
The end of ‘EARFQUAKE’ perfectly transitions into ‘I THINK’, the third track on the album and it does so effortlessly, you can hardly distinguish the shift until you take a peek at the screen on your device to eventually realize this is not the same song which makes the album nearly impeccable. ‘I THINK’ probes Tyler to ponder about his feelings while simultaneously allowing himself to assume this time the love is perhaps real as he sings, “I think I’m falling in love / This time I think it’s for real”. Still, he does not know how to make his feelings known. Here he drops hints of his much speculated homosexuality especially when he sings, “Man, I wish you would call me / By your name ’cause I’m sorry” where Tyler references the 2017 coming-of-age film, Call Me by Your Name about a romance flourishing between a teenager and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant. Yet, he does not outwardly professes it rather with subtle insinuations, visible only to those who is able to grasp the faint idea. It is also worth noting that this song has heavy prints and impressions of Kanye West’s Stronger.
The next track, ‘RUNNING OUT OF TIME’ addresses the friction building up in the mix of his relationship with his lover. Tyler suspects he might lose his lover to time, for there is not enough hours in a day to restore the relationship. Heartbreakingly, he sings, “Runnin’ out of time, runnin’ out of time / To make you love me” in the intro then proceeds in the second verse to prompt his lover or possibly even himself to stop hiding behind an identity and living an existence based off fabrication, “So / Take your mask off / I need her out of the picture / Take your mask off / Stop lyin’ for these n****s / Stop lyin’ to yourself / I know the real you”. This implies a double entendre where either, a) Tyler is maintaining a relationship with a lover just for show or b) The partner Tyler yearns for uses heterosexuality as a means to shield his true self from rising to the surface. Regardless, both circumstances does not equate to a happily ever after for the relationship but here’s the thing, stories don’t always have happy endings and IGOR explores that thoroughly.
‘NEW MAGIC WAND’, the sixth track opens with a quote which remarks, “Sometimes you gotta close a door to open a window” and long story short, it essentially establishes how we so often look so regretfully upon the past, that we refuse to consider the existence of a future. Therefore, sometimes we have to close a door to open another one or open a window, for a change, to see what lies ahead. Throughout this track, Tyler is fuelled with jealousy and continues to reinstate he needs the girl out of the picture in the first verse while despondently crying out to his better half to not abandon him. Tyler also resorts to threats as he assures his lover that he’d kill his girlfriend so they can finally belong together, “She’s gonna be dead, I just got a magic wand / We can finally be together” and if his significant other leaves Tyler for the girl, he’d kill the both of them too, “You under oath, now pick a side and if you don’t / I’ll pick you both”. It is not evident if the ‘magic wand’ here necessarily references a gun but in the fourth verse, Tyler sings “blow the whole spot up” which corroborates the conjecture.
On ‘A BOY IS A GUN’, Tyler again utilises metaphors to convey the message of the song and to identify the similarities between two concepts which fundamentally is about comparing the affection he possesses for his lover to the “love” gun owners have for their firearms. He is conscious to the reality that loving this person is as dangerous and harmful as owning a gun but at the same time, he feels more secured having him by his heavenly side, “You’re a gun ’cause I like you on my side at all times / You keep me safe”. Once again, Tyler addresses the subject matter of his partner’s resolution to live a life on the foundation of lies, “Take your hoodie off, why you hide your face from me? / Make your f*****g mind up, I am sick of waiting patiently”. Notably, Tyler also seemingly manages to get rid of the girlfriend of the guy he is seeing as he said he would in the previous track, however, it is to no avail, “You invited me to breakfast, why the f**k your ex here”.
As a result of this, Tyler feels as though he is a puppet since he is controlled by his emotions, similarly to a puppet being manipulated by its strings, leading the listeners to the eighth track, ‘PUPPET’. Here, Tyler has inherently succumbed to the nature of being in love. He voluntarily hands his strings to his mind which is infected and blinded by the immense love for his beau and thereafter, is no longer in control of the narrative as he sweeps the lover’s foolish but continuous mistakes under the rug. Tyler is hopelessly devoted to his lover in spite of their drawbacks albeit subconsciously Tyler implies that he is mildly aware he is dancing to his lover’s tunes, “I do not have self-control / I am startin’ to wonder / Is this my free will or yours?”. In a full circle moment, the track ends admirably with a quote that says “But at some point, you come to your sense” which concludes Tyler has supposedly broke loose off his strings from his puppet master as he attains a certain form of liberty. The next track that follows is ‘WHAT’S GOOD’ which surprisingly does not follow in hot pursuit in accordance to the theme and concept of the album yet it is one of my personal favs of the album because it is also one of the few tracks where he raps throughout which is glorious as ever.
As the album progresses, Tyler makes peace with himself and the fact that he cannot govern the outcome of the tumultuous relationship in a two-part track called ‘GONE, GONE / THANK YOU’. Against his better judgement, Tyler is left with no choice but to swallow a hard pill which in this case is accepting the end results instead of expecting for it to play out any differently. Tyler fully perceives his lover and him are not one and the same, “We had two different blueprints, but understood her fluent”. That being said, this person allowed Tyler in his complex life with one foot out of the door where once they stood together on a bridge which united them and now only a fence stand tall as an obstruction between the star-crossed lovers, “You started building a bridge and turned into a fence”. Tyler then raps “Then my building got tore down all because of your new tenant” in the next line, implying that his lover has abandoned Tyler only to return to the arms of the aforementioned girl. The first part ends with Tyler rapping, “I finally found peace, so peace” followed by a quote that says, “Want me do it over? Everything” which asserts Tyler has found peace amidst the chaos, still, he is willing to go through all of it again regardless of the inevitable consequences. The second part of the song sees Tyler expressing his appreciation for his lover for loving him except that now, Tyler tries to assure himself that he would never fall in love again or let alone, become attached to another person.
All the collaborators on the album (source: @feleciathegoat)
On the penultimate track of the album, ‘I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE’, Tyler acknowledges he still bears feelings for his ex-partner, “See, um, heavy feelings for you, yeah, yeah, it’s no secret” but on the flip side, he assures himself he will find someone someday who might treat him well, “And realize there’s more fish in the sea, I’ma re-up”. He boldly testifies to his former lover that he will not be discouraged by their relationship which crashed and burned, “So I won’t walk around with my head down like I got beat up” and when all is said and done, Tyler imparts one final blow and sings, “Cause I don’t love you anymore (You wasted my time and I know that these things are not hard)”.
‘ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?’ is the concluding track to the story in which in the aftermath of their relationship, Tyler delicately poses a question to his ex-lover to which he sings, “Are we still friends? Can we be friends?”. He is left wondering if they are able to remain friends after weathering the storm that is their relationship. Tyler longs for closure as he doesn’t wish to end their short-lived romance on a sour note which is contradictory considering he announced he moved on in the prior song. However, it is probable he might be harbouring ounces of romantic feelings for his former beloved in view of the outro of the song where he wraps up the album singing, “Can’t say goodbye / Can’t say goodbye, goodbye” signifying Tyler’s final attempt at salvaging the turbulent relationship. In some ways, it also symbolises Tyler refusal to depart the listeners or his fans given that this is the album’s send-off.
In the end, Tyler, The Creator’s album No. 6 is a solid album where we witness Tyler lowering his guard by explicitly pouring his feelings into each one of the tracks which ultimately moulded into what we have for our listening pleasure – IGOR. This album evidently unveils that Tyler is no longer a Goblin or a Wolf or a Flower Boy rather he is IGOR and though many argue this album does not live up to its predecessor but to me, Tyler is constantly up to par as his storytelling abilities through songs has never been more impeccable and IGOR is one of many proofs.