Over the years, my relationship with Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future, the collective he helms, has become strained. I’ve simply grown out of them thanks to a large number of back-to-back mediocre projects and lack of progression. However, while I may not be a big fan of the other members of the group, I still have hope in Tyler and Frank Ocean. After his last album, Wolf, I was extremely impressed with the progression he made in his production and rapping, which made me excited to see if he would further hone his crafts on Cherry Bomb, his new album. Well, let’s just say he honed one craft and let one sit at the wayside.
The main progression Tyler made on this new album is obviously the production. Pulling from a number of jazz, funk, rock, and R&B influences, along with artists like the Neptunes and Death Grips, Tyler puts together his most diverse set of production yet. We see Tyler pull out punk-rock guitars from Black Lips’ Cole Alexander on ‘DEATHCAMP,’ noisey and distorted production on ‘CHERRY BOMB’ inspired by Death Grips, lush production on ‘FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT’ inspired by the Neptunes, and jazz on ‘FIND YOUR WINGS’, which featured legendary jazz, funk, and soul producer Roy Ayers.
Tyler makes sure the production is the main focus of the album as he purposely mixes many of the songs to drown out his vocals. This is one of the biggest issues with the album, as this causes the mix to come off as compressed and distorted, making the first few listens or so extremely difficult. It’s hard to appreciate the great production as the sound is just all over the place. If Tyler doesn’t want to rap anymore, which he’s made clear multiple times, what’s the point of even rapping? There’s plenty of great singers on this record including Kali Uchis and Coco O of Quadron, so why not use them? Tyler’s lack of interest in rapping doesn’t just show in the mix, it shows in the lyrics too.
After listening to tracks like ‘Answer’ and ’48’ off of Wolf, you can see how great of a storyteller Tyler is. While these songs may not be technically proficient, they are filled with a lot of depth and emotion, along with some fantastic production and great flows. With many of the songs on Cherry Bomb, this depth has mostly disappeared as he is at his most immature since 2009’s Bastard. It just seems that he hasn’t come to realization that we don’t really care about how much he doesn’t give a fuck and that we’re sick of him using the word “faggot” as he’s 24 years old. And look, I get it, that’s his personality, but ever since my days of stanning Odd Future, I’ve grown up a bit, while Tyler hasn’t done all that much. Outside of his music, he’s simply a guy I just do not like that much anymore.
Another noticeable difference in this album compared to previous releases is that Tyler is a lot more happier, which ends up being one of the albums themes, to “find your wings and fly,” which is a great message. It’s a somewhat redundant theme of “be yourself,” but considering how impressionable the Odd Future fanbase is, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to tell them to be their own person. However, it’s a little hard to take this message seriously as Tyler’s still calling people faggots and that the main love interest of the album just so happens to be underage, which he talks about on tracks like ‘FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT’ and ‘OKAGA, CA.’
Seriously, for how much the interest has gone after Tyga for his relationship with Kylie Jenner, I’m surprised and a little pissed off more people haven’t gone after Tyler for this. Maybe they’re afraid of Odd Future’s fanbase? Who knows, but it’s another one of the themes on the album I find flat out creepy. At first, it seems that Tyler realizes this relationship shouldn’t happen on ‘FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT’, but by the outro, he seems to just go “fuck it, I’m gonna be with this girl.” Let me just say the mental age between the average 17 year old and 23 year old (which seems to be the age he was when writing these lyrics) is pretty massive. Tyler isn’t the average 23 year old as he’s extremely immature, so maybe they’re perfect for each other, doesn’t make it any less disgusting.
Basically, this album is extremely polarizing. There’s a lot to hate and a lot to love. The fantastic production is worth listening to despite the awful mixing/mastering, and I generally enjoy Tyler’s presence on many songs. This doesn’t take away from any of my criticisms, though, as certain tracks just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Like, no, I don’t want to guy who made “Sarah” to detail how he’s gonna eat a girl out (‘BLOW MY LOAD’) and no, I don’t want to hear your Death Grips-inspired song where you forgot that Death Grips actually knows how to engineer their songs. This is the one Tyler, the Creator album you’re doing a favor by not digging deeply into, as you’re not gonna like what you find.
Watch my video review below