- 25 Jun 21
A near-perfect comeback from unstoppable hip-hop juggernaut.
Three years after the release of his self-reflective magnum opus, IGOR, Tyler, The Creator made a surprise return last week – with the news that he would release a new album imminently.
That record, titled CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, arrived today. An exercise in unbridled, free-flowing creativity that seamlessly fuses an array of genres and sprawling soundscapes, the album is part personal musing and part social commentary.
Opening on 'SIR BAUDELAIRE', Tyler introduces himself (he has a fondness for rapping partially in character). Mellow and laissez-faire, it would be too easy to assume that 'SIR BAUDELAIRE' is setting the tone for the rest of the album.
‘CORSO’ turns out to be a sonic whiplash in the opposite direction: harking back to classic 90s hip-hop, it's a tongue-in-cheek, highly self-aware track: “I don’t even like using the word ‘bitch’, it just sounded cool”, he says, before launching headfirst into the sublime, 42 Dugg-assisted 'LEMONHEAD'.
Tyler's critics have long been frustrated with the idea that he likes to use derogatory language – be it toward the queer community in his early albums, or women – in a throwaway manner. And they may have a point, though not one that couldn't also be made about most rappers.
On album closer 'SAFARI', he uses the R-word pretty nonchalantly, right before saying "the garage look like a loony bin". I'm not typically one to get sanctimonious about hip-hop lyrics, but unfortunately, that line is the album's low point for me. If his detractors hoped that he would move away from politically incorrect linguistic slip-ups like this, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST's closing moments probably won't please them.
Nevertheless, it's the only hiccup on a record that is chock full of golden moments. 'MANIFESTO', for example, is a no-holds-barred critique of White America, where Tyler mocks social media slacktivism in contrast to the Black Lives Matter movement ("Black bodies hanging from trees, I cannot make sense of this/ Hit some protest up, retweeted positive messages/ Donated some funds then I went and copped me a necklace").
He also directly addresses his controversial past: "Internet bringin' old lyrics up, like I hide the shit/ What's your address, I could probably send you a copy, bitch/ I was canceled before canceled was with Twitter fingers," perhaps to reiterate the idea that nobody's perfect. And despite his uncontested status as one of the most prolific rappers of the age, he refuses to walk around trying to please everyone with his art.
A running theme for the tenth song on any Tyler album is a double single, present on CMIYGL in the form of 'SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE', a smooth R&B number punctuated by 80s synth elements and a saxophone line that shines through in a fleeting, glorious moment, before giving way to a reggae-tinged beat.
The album's other epic is the penultimate track – clocking in at 8 minutes and 35 seconds. 'WILSHIRE' is a rambling musing on an almost-relationship that proves Tyler is at his largely at his best when he's deep in his feelings. A true grower of an album, Call Me If You Get Lost is capable of at least standing up to IGOR – if not surpassing it altogether – in both quality and content.