Tyler, The Creator has matured since breaking on to the scene with Bastard. The rape, murder, and overall “horrorcore” label placed on his music is all but absent on his sophomore LP Wolf. There are moments when we’re taken back to the “Transylvania” Tyler (e.g. “Pigs”), but those all to seem to be in jest to live up to the persona of Tyler, The Creator. Before releasing Wolf Tyler said he couldn’t make music about those subjects anymore, because that’s not his life. Wolf is the story of that Tyler, The Creator A 20 year old icon. Rich. Straight Edge. And struggling with fame.
There are many songs on Wolf that have the same Odd Future aesthetic people have become familiar with. Be that a good or bad thing. “Jamba” has Hodgy Beats spitting some of his best bars since “Session” as him and Tyler trade nonsensical rhymes over a typical synth heavy Tyler beat. The darker tone of the album continues with “Pigs” a daunting tale of Sam (a character mentioned throughout the album) who responds to school bullying in the vein of Columbine. “Who are you again?” I’m Sammy and that’s Tyler/ We came to get wild and style in these trench coats!/ Don’t start asking what’s packing in these trench coats/ Just know if you start acting, I’m grabbing for these trench coats!”. The emotion in the four minute manifesto makes it different than other songs from Odd Future as Tyler ends it with Sam apparently committing suicide before saying “I got 99 problems and all of them happy.” The only other song on Wolf that will satisfy the fans looking for music to burn down buildings to is the extremely disappointing “Trashwang.” The beat is vintage OF and immediately it sounds like something that would be an instant favorite of anyone listening. That is until you hear the verses. Don’t ever let Lucas near a mic again…..The inclusion of Odd Future members when they’re unnecessary was a huge problem on previous Tyler albums, and it clearly hasn’t completely gone away.
The Majority of Wolf sounds like a matured Tyler who is no longer concerned with making anything except music he wants to. His love for music besides just rap is evident on the majority of the album. The standout jazz fusion track “Treehome95” for example is some of the smoothest composition on a rap album in recent memory and makes absolute no sense being in between “Trashwang” and the turn up anthem “Tamale.” The three songs in one experience of “PartyIsn’tOver/ Campfire/ Bimmer” doesn’t make much sense as there exists no sonic cohesion between the three, but great songs none the less. The final of the three songs “Bimmer” featuring Frank Ocean with a stripped down electronic feel is a clear standout of the three, and would have been best served as its own. Beneath it all you still get the feeling that Tyler is having trouble dealing with his newfound fame and riches; especially with his oft mentioned absent father. This shows on “Answer,” A 4 minute open letter to his estranged father where we hear perhaps the most personal Tyler on the album. “Mom was only 20 when you ain’t have any fucks to spare/ You Nigerian fuck now I’m stuck with this shitty facial hair/Also stuck with a beautiful home with a case of stairs, so you not being there fucking firestarted my damn career.” It’s annoying when a 20 year old complains about his daddy issues but simultaneously has a million in the bank and will never work a 9 to 5, but somehow Tyler expresses raw emotion while still taking into account all of the blessings he’s been bestowed.
At a few times throughout Wolf the tone does become monotonous. Songs like “Colossus” don’t serve any purpose other than to alienate his diehard fans and annoy any “old heads.” It tells the story of Tyler encountering a diehard fan at Six Flags. The reason Eminem’s “Stan” works is because it tells an entire story of a die hard fan taking things too far. (The third verse showing Eminem’s true love for his fans is what makes it such a legendary song) However, “Colossus” plays like a 20 year old rapper who is annoyed by any sort of public attention.
There are things that Tyler did wrong on Wolf: too many Odd Future features, cutting Earl off on ‘Rusty’, not having Gunplay on ‘Trashwang’, and not making ‘Bimmer’ its own song. There are also a litany of things Tyler did right on his follow up to Goblin, and that’s evident on first listen. He stepped outside of the box and when he did the results were exceptional. He did what one is expected to do when making music as a career: progress.