Monday, May 18, 2015

Live Review - Tyler, the Creator - Cherry Bomb

OF Platinum Age incoming??

My last review (like a month ago, ugh) was Earl's latest, and I loved it, and now we're getting Tyler's new project, so... I'm pretty excited? I dunno. Tyler has always been the most Odd Future of all of Odd Future, the one that best exemplified everything I loved about the group when I first found out about them (like 5 years ago, wow). But... he also best exemplifies everything I became tired of about Odd Future, everything that the most annoying subgroups of their (rapidly expanding) fanbase latched onto, everything that, in retrospect, really isn't up my alley...

Like, there was a time where the most interesting thing about OF was how shocking they were... the horrifying lyrics and videos, the relentless lo-fi feeling, the addictive sense of always wanting to return and indulge but also feeling a bit disturbed and put off, and, of course, how shockingly talented they all were. Now, over half a decade later (sorry, I have to keep emphasizing this, 'cause it's just mindblowing to me), the shock has mostly worn off, and my interest has wavered. Bastard was one of my most played albums that year, and when he ate the cockroach I was as hyped as everyone, but... the very fact that everyone was so excited sort of dulled my excitement, maybe.

By the time they gave that mindblowing Fallon performance and people in the audience yelled "Free Earl", I realized it wasn't really "my thing" anymore, and no longer was my interest based on this being some crazy hype unknown thing that I felt compelled to understand. It was a known quality available to the public that I would have to choose to associate with. And man like... I could never deny that they were extremely talented, boundary pushing, experimental... but it just wasn't what I felt like I wanted to be "into" anymore. I dunno.

I played a bunch of the bangers off Goblin on repeat, sure, and I thought Wolf was really well done and pretty cool, but it really wasn't my scene. And at the same time, Tyler was maturing too, making his albums grander and more conceptual, exploring some pretty deep and brutal narratives and really exposing himself in places where before we had only seen a caricature. But compared to guys like Earl and Frank, it still seemed like Tyler was operating in the "mode" of OF, which, for better or worse, just wasn't what I was feeling at the time.

Ah, but now we're heading into another fun summer, and is it not time that we maybe revisited what made Tyler so great in the first place, maybe in hope that that'll be what comes through on this album? This undoubtedly based individual, who says such disgusting and abhorrent things, but also has an undeniable positive energy that suggests an underlying reasonableness and understanding, did the lessons he had to teach us really stop applying when we stopped being teenagers? Can a line like "I hate gays, gangbangers and fucking jerkers/unless it's gay gangbangers, that's fucking jerkers" be shockingly funny again? Will the strange personal mythos of Golf Wang once again be intriguing and meaningful? How about insulting puns about celebrities? Can we once again fall into that cycle of vibing out to one of their awesome dirty garage beats, realizing that you just heard something crazy, doubling back, laughing at the line, then doubling back again to appreciate how well it was delivered, then just replaying the song from the start? On this album, will we once again feel that urge?

Ultimately, Tyler's appeal is in his unbounded, unbridled creative energy. There's a sort of violence or aggressiveness to it, like, a sense that nothing you or society has done or can do that would stop him from doing what he wants to. And yet, at the same time... despite all the offensive lyrics, despite the unbearable, riot-y fanbase, he's always just been very reasonable, very creative, only looking to have fun, or expose something important, or investigate some idea. But he's going all out, totally unrestrained...

I dunno, I hope I'm making myself clear. Basically, his music's always been really well done and exciting, but I'm not super into the mode or aesthetic of the content anymore. But I used to be, and maybe I will be again. And the underlying duality of almost aggressive creative freedom but understanding and reasonableness still resonates with me. Okay okay. Let's go.

Tyler, the Creator - Cherry Bomb
Live Review

1. Deathcamp
Weird sporadic beat... Tyler does the same thing Pharrel does by repeating the start of the beat 4 times. His flow and delivery is really on point, I really like how dense and full this sound is, how loud. His lines are pretty funny but I'm missing some of them cause of this quality, but that's fine. Comparing himself to Nas, fine. And now really going in, calling it Cherry Bomb 'cause Greatest Hits sounded boring, nice. Young T. I think he's about the same age as me. The huge beat switchup on "I don't like to follow the rules" is pretty key. Give yourself a hand. "Better pose for that camera". He's going in on so many directions now. Some disturbing imagery, sounds pretty good. "Welcome to deathcamp", lol right when I was about to say we haven't heard him sound too dark and gravely yet. This is really solid, really multifaceted, I want to explore it more already. The way he's "singing" on the outro is pretty interesting. *

2. Buffalo
WOWOW this was the same sample Pusha T used on Numbers on the Boards. This is a similar sorta beat and this is pretty sweet. Talking about switching the word "faggot" to "book". Really filthy disgust sort of flow, feels like he's spitting out every syllable, good assonance and such too. This beat is pretty schizo but works. Rosa Parks line, watch out, she went after Outkast, she'll go after you! Strange interlude on a classic OF-sorta sound, that warbly tone. Interludes of people with expectations of him, we already know that isn't his scene. I really like the drums on this, this sort of apatterned flow. The song structure on both of these are bizarre. *

3. Pilot
Another crazy beat... And wowow I love the way that noise comes in on that very simple drum pattern. "I'm the new pilot in this bitch", nice extended metaphor. And wow around :55 there's this bizarre "dumb" horn sort of section, weird as hell. His flow is really neat, the way it sort of lurches around but can suddenly emerge into a longer flow. Again this song structure is insane... Concepts of "hooks" and "verses" are right out the window, he goes into the mode of either at any time from any place. He has a lot of "themed" sections, the focal points of the song keep shifting but he keeps presenting more. It's really cool, it's a sort of "deep" feeling, being really deep into the ideas. "I'm in first class but I feel like coach" S

4. Run
Damn this flow is pretty cool, pretty impressive, sounds really good with the vocal effects. Prolly one of the most straightforward beats yet but that isn't saying much hahaha. Um, intense. I spent most of the time really just focusing to understand what he was saying lol. S-

5. Find Your Wings
Bizarre tongue-in-cheek sorta lounge music... classic OF "nightmarish parody" sorta feeling... Is this gonna be all instrumental? A sort of interlude? I'm into it... I feel like my brain needs to decompress sorta. This is nice and smooth, ah, here he is... another sort of "mode" we haven't seen from him before. The message of the song is nice and uplifting but it seems too "simply" uplifting, and with the weird saccharine background almost seems sarcastic. But I think he just likes this sort of cheesy aesthetic, especially when it also just sounds legitimately good, as it does here. I really like the sweetness of the vocals at the end, and the piano, and the drums... all tight and pretty. S

6. Cherry Bomb
Woah man this drum... the guitars... it feels like... some sort of other thing being taken to an illogical extreme... Oh man Tyler on some MC Ride shit maybe? Drops the Kanye "I am a God", and it feels like he really was the creator. Woah around the minute mark, the way the beat "clears up" sporadically is really neat. And now it's settled into a hellish staticky simple rhythm. "You motherfuckers want war?" and everything goes to superhell, the hell of hell. I really love it, though. It's rare that we see experimentation with something this abrasive. And the sound of Tyler "deep" within it is pretty neat, too... This that cherry bomb! I think I get the title? Like, the aesthetic of it... It really does feel like fireworks. The shift at 3:00 is REALLY COOL, I love the sound of these girls' voices. And the way the beat comes back in on it. There's a sense of being barely able to discern stuff through a very noisy smoke, I love it. But again... this constantly shifting core of reference. And oh man we're slowing down... YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! And this outro... suddenly radio aesthetics? That was pretty cool, very intense. *

7. Blow My Load
Nonstop dark gritty sorta flow, with some really cool layered soulish singing, taking these two concepts to the extreme. Super explicit sex lyrics, "This is what you wanted, this is what you came for", etc. It feels like every element he adds has to be taken in an the most extreme direction he can imagine. It can't just be samples, it has to be "obscene" mouth sounds. This outro is strange, too... The weird "pipping" sounds around 2:20 are neat. And now hahaha this radio framing thing, I feel like we keep switching the "perspective" of the album within the "universe". S-

8. 2Seater
This is a long one... Really nice beat, nice and smooth. Tyler on a classic flow he has absolute mastery of. I love when he drops the final word of each line really heavy. Yeah, I'm really feeling this one, it's super bumping. I'm sure it'll go to like five more directions by the end of the song, though, hahaha. Like this weird orchestral rushup, alongside sax and vocal solo?? Tyler on a strange sort of "stilted" flow. This is so silly lol, I think he's having a lot of fun on this one, exploring melodies with his voice with a strange awareness. And then man loads of good lines and a godly flow on this one... bad like the food at McDonalds. This is his A-game, I want to hear this verse like fifty time. Definitively killing it, yus. Nostalgia flows, Left Brain and skating. And the verse ends cause the girl turns his music down. And wow okay now a super major shift, almost right at the halfway point. This vocal effect is pretty cool, and I really like this beat. Tyler is really adept at finding these sort of creative places, the idea of making a beat with only these elements comes as easy as making one with 10x as many elements? I dunno. Cool sort of noodling solo here, abruptly ends too. I think the closest thing in structure to this album is Reaching Quiet's In the Shadow of the Living Room. Little interlude of people shittalking him hahaha. "She looks... OK." haha. Hmm. Poor Tyler :( S+

9. The Brown Stains Of Darkeese Latifah (Part 6-12) (Remix)
Hahahaha omg this title is awesome. Shittalking flow. Craaaaazy beat. Really insane. Ohh, the way the guitar sorta wanders in, this is nice. "I hate the block, like I hate Legos" lmao what. Hahahahaha omg but THAT wasn't good enough, and we get the insane version of what we just heard. Lots of good lines here hahaha. "I don't really fuck with you niggas, shoutouts to Jim Crowe" and then WOAH, Schoolboy Q, hell yeah. Damn wow he's having with this flow. The beat scales back so he can rock the transition too I guess. He lurches into a sort of absrasivity so well. This is a sort of distilled version of like twelve of his flows we've seen on other tracks, thrown into a big bucket and dumped on us. This is a compliment btw. This was a much more straightforward song than the rest too lol. *

10. Fucking Young
Another big one. Woah I love the first transition, this story with the cops... His flow is pretty nuts here, sorta blue sky white fence suburban domestic bliss aesthetic. But his girl is way too fucking young :( lol. The way they smoothly sing "fucking young" is pretty hilarious, good effect. Tyler loves this sort of juxtaposition between content and context and delivery etc. I like that he's actually indulging in this section for awhile, because it's awesome and there's a lot of places to go within it. Lol this verse is still about how fucking young she was hahaha. "When you mention hang I'm thinking a tree and a belt", dick longer than his attention span. And they keep singing it in the background hahaha. "But you're too young, you're too young", haha I love how THIS is the message that is made straightforward and cohesive. And WOW this transition is sick, the cool synth lines and the big heavy beats coming in. Owow hahahaa is this now the girl's perspective? Pretty clever. They really nailed the voice, and I love her variations and stuff "Scareyareyared" etc. Has a really nice smooth freedom to it. Man the variety on this album is nuts... I'm so hypnotized by the mode of these last few songs, and I just thought about how crazy the earlier tracks were, and I got a bit shocked hahaha. The slight variation on the outro is pretty sweet, just a sense of energy and agency. *

11. Smuckers
This was the BIG HYPE ONE, with LIL WAYNE AND HOLY SHIT KANYE. Wow this beat is SICK. Classic OF horn tones and piano runs, just a homerun sorta beat. His verse is solid is hell, and wow the variations coming in around 0:50 is cool. "That shit gonna pop like that nigga that was never around" WOW :(((( So many good lines... I can't begin to quote them, wow. Awwwwww yeah here he is, Kanye. "Richer than white people with black kids, scarier than black people with ideas", damn man holy shit wow. WOW, did Kanye always know how to rap like this? "I know they tell they white daughters don't bring home Tyrone", wowlwwowoowjnsijw. His car sound effects are on point, and then actual car samples. "I was texting God, he said 'I gave you a big dick so go extra hard'" wowowow. Kanye was super honest and explicit just now and idk how to handle it. And now Wayne is sounding like Wayne 6 years ago. Trading lines with Tyler, haha but it almost seems like a Tyler verse, is Wayne gonna go as hard? Hahah he's on his classic punchlines stuff, completely insane. Jesus wow he's going impossibly far in here. The beat has been evolving this whole time but I can't even comprehend it. **

12. Keep Da O's
And I think Pharrell is on this one? Really weird intro here. Is this song about coke? And the first transition takes it even weirder, which fizzles out and then in... Somehow though a coherent flow has emerged from all this, not sure what sort of magic and/or science is responsible. This sort of "disconnected" sound is pretty neat, and Tyler is having ungodly fun throwing his voice up on this octave and hitting all sorts of weird flows and making them sound even weirder. The piano around 2:00 is super insaney, and the way a "traditional" piano/snap/vocal section follows it makes the whole thing even more nightmareish. There's a whole Lynchian "pre-tragedy" or "age of ignorance" sort of feeling to a sound like this. And wow yeah at 3:00, that is a very classic OF piano, back to the "Find Your Wings" motif... I really can't comprehend much of this hahaha. It has moved past that now. And the ending is even crazier, just because he found some way it can be. "I rap about diamonds, and money, and cars now, what the fuck has gotten into me, man?" hahaha. S+

13. Okaga, CA
This is his... hometown maybe? Unsure. It has a sort of nice homecoming value on the face. This is right on the border of sincerity. I think maybe Tyler's sincere emotions just actually feel like this on the inside to him, hahaha. The "characters" from "Fucking Young" are back. The trading lines between them is pretty cool/strange... overall I think there's a weird neat/hmm feeling to the whole album. The strings and such... this whole thing has a weird sense of both urgency and depraved laziness to it... Tyler gets into his most classicest flow here around 3:20... super sentimental storytelling flows, I hope this is one of his "transcendent, endless" sorta verses... I feel this, though. I like how this one has stayed largely in the same "mode", despite the length... it feels triumphant, final, etc. A sense of completeness in it. "Let's go to the moon", wow, okay, I really fuck with that. And Tyler quietly in the background. At the end, we move into a strange nightmare version of the preceding song, which in turn is a nightmare version of something we remember from old sitcoms, and I think this pattern is the whole album in a nutshell. Let's go to the moon indeed. S+

Okay, that was pretty sick

I'm not sure if all the stuff I talked about in the intro happened, or if I really needed it to. I really enjoyed that regardless. There was a lot of "classic" OF stuff... tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top homages to the modes and aesthetics of suburban white America and affiliated art, usually taking the form of cute little piano riffs and smooth loungy singing and grand orchestral stuff and all that. OF's examples are all-original and sincerely good, but the juxtaposition between it and the heavy, noisy, beats and Tyler's grimey flows are what really makes it memorable.

I think, if there's anything frustrating about the album, it's the sense that Tyler sees all the elements he creates as more just agents of contrast rather than actually enjoyable sections. Like, the idea of some soulful singer repeating "fucking young" is probably really hilarious to him, right? And it is to me, too. But idk like... it's pretty rare that he gives you an idea that's been taken to full completion, y'know? Everything feels like it's been cut off, most tracks feel like they contain enough hooks, verses, and beats for three different songs... he's very rarely content to just do a verse over a beat, everything has to keep shifting and evolving. It's really cool, but sometimes can feel unsatisfying... some parts are really awesome and juicy and you get the sense that Tyler doesn't even realize you'd want more of it.

But what's really cool is that all of this jaggedness and unsettling discontentment works well with the lyrical themes of the album. Like Earl, the album largely seems to be exploring Tyler's "issues", or whatever, in the context of memories, stories, sheer mental wandering, etc. But where Earl finds himself in the pits of depression, Tyler is careening around in the jetstream. It seems the biggest struggle is for him to reign in his explosive desires. I'm really looking forward to delving into the lyrics... everything I heard had that "shockingly clever" quality that I think Donald Glover is always attempting and failing to achieve.

So yeah, another aggressive, relentless, schizophrenic, nightmarish OF classic. Another set of veterans who slip right into the aesthetic and master it in seconds, delivering an unleashed version of their favorite flows that sounds like it had always been lurking in their shadows and/or gut. Meaning doesn't come easily but it is there. There's really nothing else like it, and maybe that's for the best, cause otherwise we might all go crazy.

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