Perspectives: Tyler the Creator’s artistic progression shows his best work

Owen Reimer, Entertainment Editor

For a different perspective on this topic, read this piece by Gnally Boukar.

Tyler the Creator is a perfect example of artistic progression and growth. It’s rare that an artist can enter the public eye so early into their musical endeavours, but it allows listeners to easily point out his evolution sonically throughout his decade in the mainstream. Throughout this time, his music has grown from edgy shock-value rap to masterfully executed and innovative pieces of work that include elements of jazz and neo-soul, along with classic hip-hop. His most recent three albums–“Flower Boy,” “IGOR,” and “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,”– are perfect examples of an artist at peak form.

On an interview on Hot 97, Tyler even stated his most recent album was his best effort. It’s almost undeniable that, on just a technical level, every aspect of his music has improved. Lazy synth chords on earlier projects evolved into masterful symphonies, offensive and surface level bars turned into introspective, charismatic, and powerful storytelling, and boring ballads are now tear-jerkers. The mastery in the artform he reaches in these projects is unparalleled in the bottom half of his discography.

Something clicked with 2017’s “Flower Boy” that elevated every aspect of Tyler’s music. By expanding on ideas experimented on in his prior work “Cherry Bomb” and tapping into a lyrical part of his mind I had no clue existed, he creates a jazzy and introspective work that succeeds on everything it tries to. While rapping on a level he had never shown before, he also experiments singing on his take on pop songs like “See You Again” or “911/Mr. Lonely.” These tracks, while catchy and gorgeous, also show an intimate look into his thought process and personal life. Instead of deflecting with braggadocio, he simply gives an honest portrait of where he’s at at that point in time. 

What Tyler is able to accomplish on his record “Igor,” however, is nothing short of revolutionary. His ability to encompass the entirety of a relationship through storytelling only found in songwriting is undeniable. I could easily write a ten page essay on any one song on this album. Creating a concise story  using only music is a feat only few are capable of. Here, Tyler does this with ease, while also delivering some of the best lo-fi, R&B, electronic, and hip-hop music released in the last decade to paint his picture. 

On “Igor” Tyler delves into many genres and comes out with the strongest parts of each one. “WHAT’S GOOD” moves from aggressive bass lines and heavy drum breaks to gorgeous synth solos, and back again, with such nuance and ease that a first-time listener might not even catch the mastery going on behind the vocals. “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” mixes classic soul samples with beautiful electronic sounds and keys to create a wonderful symphony of emotion. “EARFQUAKE” sounds like if bedroom pop existed in the eighties. Every track sounds nothing like the last, and yet they all work perfectly in sync to form a work unparalleled in mainstream music. 

“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,” Tyler’s most recent effort from earlier this year, confirms what we already knew. He has reached a level where he can do anything musically. While this album isn’t as complex or conceptual as “Igor,” it succeeds at being, simply, an exceptional rap album. Wonderfully layered instrumentals compliment the best verses Tyler has spit in his life, with DJ Drama along for the ride. If there was any doubt his consistency had an expiration date, this project destroyed that. 

The ability to grow and mature as an artist, as well as a person, shows a tremendous amount of artistry and depth. Tyler the Creator has proven three times now that he is no longer someone that needs to rely on shock value, because his work speaks for itself.