The new Tyler record is predominantly a rap record (opposed to Igor which felt more like an r&b record). A lot of ideas get thrown at the wall, but most of them stick.
I listened to this album the day it came out - and yet here I am, two months later, only just getting around to reviewing it. AND THE SLOWEST REVIEWER IN THE GAME AWARD GOES TO ALASDAIR KENNEDY. I’m actually glad I sat on this album for two months before throwing my opinion out there. Like the rapper’s last album Igor, this record has been a grower.
2019’s Igor saw Tyler rapping less and singing more, while ditching personal subject matter in exchange for playing a character. At first, I found it all to be jarring - a whole album of impersonal soppy r&b songs was not what I wanted - but it quickly grew on me and has become my favourite Tyler record to date. I expected CMIYGL to follow in the same vein, but no. Tyler is back to being a rapper and the subject matter feels much more personal again. What initially disappointed me wasn’t so much this return to Flower-Boy-era Tyler, but instead the lack of theme. Tyler’s records are often very conceptual. This album is sonically and lyrically all over the place. However, with return listens I’ve realised that this itself is the theme – it’s an album about feeling ‘lost’ and it therefore makes sense for it to be a muddle of ideas.
Tyler is at a stage in his life where he’s seemingly got it all. He‘s wrote songs for movies, he’s got his own clothes line, he’s got all the material luxuries he could even want and he’s even got a Grammy under his belt. He’s proud of it all and isn’t afraid to spend the bulk of the album bragging about it. However, there’s one thing he still wants – and that’s to find a partner to love and share his success with. As he states on ‘WILSHIRE’, ‘I got every damn car, multiple cribs/ but it’s like no ‘I want that’’. It’s an album about the bittersweet feeling of having it all except love.
Tyler is looking for someone to get lost with him, constantly reminding the listener throughout the record to ‘call me if your get lost’. Recurrent lyrics about travelling the world create this sense of constantly being on the move, while the music takes you on a continuous journey by constantly changing style. There are gritty Gravediggaz-sampling boom-bap tracks like ‘LUMBERJACK’. There are Boyz-II-Men style R&b tracks like ‘WUSYANAME’. There are noisy trap bangers like ‘JUGGERNAUT’. Hell, Tyler even dips his toes into reggae on the second half of ‘SWEET/ I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE’.
I’m impressed as to how Tyler is able to adapt to all these styles like a chameleon. Tyler’s singing does still feel a bit hammy on tracks like ‘WUSYANAME’ (although his ability to hold a note has improved) and I’m not a fan of the cheap MIDI-trumpet sounds on ‘LEMONHEAD’, however for the most part he’s able to pull off each style and still put his own stamp on it. There’s also a good balance of fun and serious tracks. In fact, there are very few artists that can drop a track like ‘JUGGERNAUT’ and then slip into a song like ‘WILSHERE’ – one is a rambunctious 2 ½ minute brag anthem with a beat made out of distorted bass and ringing telephones and the other is a stream-of-consciousness 8 ½ minute confessional love song over smooth soulful boom-bap (possibly the most intimate song Tyler has ever written).
All in all, it’s another solid album. I’m not sure I’d rank it above Igor or Flower Boy – some of the braggadocio gets clawing at times and some of the songs in the first half pale in comparison to many of the latter tracks. However, it contains some of his most ambitious production and some of his best rapping. It's definitely his most sophisticated album. His edgelord days are long behind him.