Tyler, The Creator – Wolf
Record Label: Odd Future, RED, Sony
Release Date: April 2, 2013
I know I’m a little late getting into Calfornia rapper and “frontman” of alternative hip-hop collective OFWGKTMA, or Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, Tyler, The Creator. I’ve seen Tyler’s records in stores for a long time, but that was a time when I was not into hip-hop at all. I am a huge fan of Frank Ocean, however, and I have heard a bit of Tyler’s rapping on a song from Channel Orange.
Ever since I picked up Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album Doris recently, I’ve been more interested in the rest of Odd Future, so it makes sense to start off with Tyler. I was at my local Best Buy, looking for the new Ariana Grande record when I happened to stumble across Tyler’s most recent release, Wolf, in the rap section, so I picked it up immediately, even though I didn’t know what to expect at all.
Surprisingly, Wolf is a wonderful record. For my first Tyler, The Creator record, this is a great place to start off with. I’ve never been much into the genre, let alone Odd Future or Tyler himself, and I have always been rather skeptical on records by them, mainly because I’ve heard of the controversy surrounding him, the group, and their antics/lyrics. That’s what made Wolf a huge surprise to me, because it has everything I look for in a hip-hop record. Even more so, it has everything I look for in a record in general – Tyler’s a very unique character, and while the overall sound is very unique and interesting, his lyrics are also enjoyable (for the most part).
The beats and instrumentation is absolutely fantastic as well. My favorite thing about this record probably isn’t his flow, his lyrics, or the guest spots, although that’s all enjoyable, but rather, the overall sound and the production on this record. I’ve read that Tyler wanted this record to be more production-oriented, and it really shows.
His rapping and whatnot is actually very enjoyable, even if it comes off quite awkward sometimes. What I mean by that is his flow comes off awkward and strange a lot of the time. For him, it works, because he his lyrics paint him as a very awkward and rather anti-social person. A lot of themes on this record are his awkwardness, his loneliness, his hatred for people in general, and his feelings of isolation, especially in high school. It is really interesting, too, that he’s only 22-years-old, so for being very young (like most of Odd Future), he’s really impressive. Of course, for every really “deep” track, which there are a lot of, there are some hype tracks, like second track “Jamba,” which has a beat to die for, and these tracks either work or they don’t.
One thing that really interested me while researching the record is that Wolf is meant to be a narrative, and that’s one thing I both like and dislike about this album. There’s a story throughout the album where Tyler plays a character named Wolf, who goes to camp and meets a girl named Salem, but Frank Ocean plays another character called Sam, who basically tries to steal Salem away. This is why I like the narrative and I don’t; I like it, because it’s an interesting idea. Instead of making the record a bunch of random songs, Tyler tries to piece them all together, and they do hold up as single songs, which is another why I do like it. But I don’t, because the narrative is rather confusing as a whole. There is an attempt at a narrative, but it does fall short.
When you look at the songs individually, though, they work out great. Well, for the most part. It makes sense that, since the record is 18 songs long, there are going to be some that are great, good, and well, not so good. There’s a wide range of quality here. The record starts off nicely with intro and title track “Wolf,” where Tyler just basically raps over a really cool piano riff. It leads right into “Jamba,” which features fellow Odd Future member Hodgy Beats. In fact, all the guest spots on this album are basically Odd Future members, but the two most important ones are Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt. There are a few more, such as Eryakah Badu, and even Pharrell makes an appearance. The guest spots are very enjoyable here, and they don’t disappoint, for the most part.
”Jamba” is a nice track to start off with, because it’s one of the “hype” tracks on this record, meaning it’s just a very energetic song with very boastful lyrics. It’s got a very clunky, but very wonderful beat. A lot of the beats on this record are very “clunky” and full of drum loops. It works to Tyler’s advantage, though, because ultimately, this is his style, and he works very well with it.
There are other songs I like, but these songs really stuck out to me. “Answer” is one that really stuck out, because it’s another one of the deeper tracks on the record. It’s all about Tyler’s contempt for his nonexistent father, and he basically says that if he ever called his father, he hopes that he would answer the phone. “IFHY” is another very angry song, and this is the song that features Pharrell. This song is more about relationships, and how Tyler is in a relationship with someone whom he loves, but also hates, as evident throughout the whole song. Finally, fifteenth track “Trashwang” features a LOT of Odd Future members, and it reminds me of the Odd Future track “Swag Me Out” from 2010’s Radical, and A$AP Rocky’s “1Train,” from his debut record Long.Live.A$AP, which was released earlier this year.
There a few songs I don’t like, such as the “PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer,” medley that appears around halfway into the album. The first two songs meander quite a bit, and drag on, even though they aren’t really bad. They just kind of put me to sleep. Sixteenth track “Treehome95” is another song I’m not too crazy about, either, even though it features Eryakah Badu and Coco O. They aren’t too bad, but the track itself is also rather boring.
A couple tracks don’t do much for me, but as a whole, the record does hit quite well. I will admit that it’s a bit long, coming in at around 71 minutes, but it’s a great record, so the length is forgivable. Ultimately, for being my introductory record to Tyler, The Creator, I’m very impressed, and well, Tyler’s really close to being my favorite rapper, if not already. His personality is interesting, his lyrics may be a mix between vulgar and meaningful, but they’re great as a whole, and his flow may come off rather awkward at some points, but it works for him. He’s a rapper that is going places, and being on a couple years older than myself, I’m excited to see where he goes.