A man who famously made a music video where he eats a cockroach and hangs himself, Tyler, the Creator has certainly matured since his debut mixtape Bastar. His newest album, Cherry Bomb, came out of nowhere, much like his Odd Future counterpart Earl Sweatshirt and his amazing release, I Don’t Like S***, I Don’t Go Outside. Tyler’s newest is the perfect follow-up to his sophomore album, Wolf. What once was a teenage-angst filled kid who used scare tactics is now a clothing-line owner, director, producer, and an overall role model for many. There’s a difference between “not giving a ****” and “doing what you want and not caring what others think,” Tyler chooses the latter and never fails to disappoint. Wolf was one of my favorite albums of 2013, it was much more than just an average rap album. Tyler takes influence from plenty of different genres, but the shining light is jazz, which really shows through in the chords he chooses to sample or play. Cherry Bomb is no different and contains some of the most impressive instrumentals that I’ve heard this year.
Several days ago, Tyler released his songs “Deathcamp” alongside F***ing Young/Perfect” which was accompanied with a music video. Hearing this news had me exhilarated; most of Odd Future has been remaining quite low-key these past few years. “Deathcamp” sounds like old-school NERD with a harsh instrumental, and a harsh attitude that topples over it. “F***king Young/Perfect” is, to say the very least, absolutely beautiful. This is one of the first times where fans really got to hear Tyler try to sing, and while it’s a little off-key, that’s what makes it beautiful. Everything about this instrumental is so well constructed between the groovy, fun-loving hook, to the beautiful harmonies attributed to Charles Wilson.
Personally, the highlights of this album come from a three-song sequence towards the second half: “The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah”, “F***ing Young/Perfect” and “Smuckers,” which features Kanye West and Lil Wayne. If I was still 17 and heard that Tyler, the Creator was releasing a feature with Kanye, I probably would’ve dropped dead. But instead, I’m now 20 and get to sit here writing about how big of a fanboy I am. Kanye seems to have been a somewhat long-time fan of Tyler, he even devoted his whole website at one point to the release of Tyler’s music video for “IFHY”. Tyler is a visionary, much like Kanye, and the sheer confidence both of them share make them an obvious pair. While these songs are the highlight of the album, that doesn’t go to say that the rest of the album is bad because it’s far from it.
Collectively, this is hands down the best Tyler the Creator album to date. Wolf was impressive and has some of my favorite Tyler songs of all time on it, but there’s a few let downs on the album. Cherry Bomb doesn’t have one song that I can’t enjoy on it and there’s so much variation to this album that it’s hard for someone to not find one song they like. “Find Your Wings” is a beautiful horn-stricken jazz-infused masterpiece that seems like it came from Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters. This song alone shows the maturity Tyler has achieved in his past few years, considering the flack he’s gotten in the past. It’s understandable why he received so much hate within the past few years, he used to be some snarky kid shouting “666 Golf Wang, Kill People, Burn S***, F*** School”.
Now with Cherry Bomb, Tyler is doing exactly what he wants to do. While the same could be said for Wolf, it seemed that Wolf was more of an album for the people – a way to show he was past all of the immaturity and was ready to show his serious composer’s side. Speaking of, this album is entirely produced by Tyler. Self-production is a growing theme within the rap realm lately, but Tyler’s production is miles ahead of the basic trap-hi-hat-snare instrumentals that a lot of kids are putting out these days. Throughout the album, it’s easy to pick up most of the modern influences such as Pharrell and Kanye, both of who are featured on this album. However, Tyler has such an identifiable, signature sound to his music that it’s impossible to say that he’s biting either of these musician’s styles.
“Brown Stains,” or “The Brown Stains Darkeese Latifah Parts 6-12 (Remix)” as it’s actually called, is probably one of the dumbest track titles I’ve ever heard from Tyler, but I’d be a sick, sick liar if I told you this song wasn’t one of the best on this album. The instrumental’s first layer is a strange spacey loop that gives off vibes of Pusha T’s “Lunch Money” single, or some throwaway beat from Kanye’s “Yeezus.” When Tyler’s verse comes in, it absolutely bangs with hard-hitting drums and this strange whining-like siren that seems reminiscent of “Pigs” off Wolf. Schoolboy Q of TDE fame has a feature on this and fits the song perfectly, seamlessly flowing into the beat directly after Tyler. While this song is three minutes and 12 seconds, it still seems too short, leaving me wanting more, but that’s hardly a complaint.
I believe that this album deserves several thorough listens that I haven’t even properly given it, and one song especially needs to get focused on: “Smuckers.” Even though I haven’t liked Lil Wayne since The Carter 3, even Weezy slays this track. Each artist manages to go in on this song over one of Tyler’s best instrumentals yet. A melodic piano opening that turns into a hollow sounding drum beat with distorted horns allows for each artist to have fun but still make it an absolutely beautiful sounding track. Kanye has a verse that any old-school Kanye fans will most likely faint over. With hard-hitting bars and probably the most “fun” approaches I’ve heard on a Kanye verse this year, Kanye kills this beat. After his punchline filled verse, Weezy and Tyler trade bars as the beat transitions to what reminds me of revised Domo Genesis’s song “Supermarket,” a song off Rolling Papers that featured Tyler the Creator. Whatever horn sample is used on the latter half of this song absolutely gives me goosebumps, if Lil Wayne rapped over more beats like this, I’d probably be a huge fan.
To reinforce my point previously stated, drop any negative connotations you’ve had towards Tyler, the Creator. All the murder, rape, 666 shticks are nonexistent and if you only liked “Yonkers”, this album isn’t for you. Cherry Bomb is a beautiful blend of hard-hitting rap tracks that stampede into your ears, as well as light-hearted, beautiful, almost euphoric sounding jazz-songs. 2015 is easily the best year for Odd Future (Specifically Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, soon to be Frank Ocean) – with 2013 having releases of Wolf and Doris (by Earl Sweatshirt) both albums released by them this year are the most logical step for these artists to take, and the best step at that. It’s a true mystery where the Odd Future collective is heading next, everyone seems to be laying low, doing their own thing, but if they continue to drop unannounced albums as impressive as Cherry Bomb and I Don’t Like S***.. then they have quite the bright future ahead of them.
Also keep an eye out of the theatrical release of Tyler, the Creator’s WOLF, a movie adaptation of his 2013 release sometime soon.
Recommended Songs: “Find Your Wings”, “Cherry Bomb”, “Brown Stains”, “F***ing Young/Perfect”, “Smuckers”, “Okaga, CA”
Album Rating: 8.2/10
Zach Ritz is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at ZR812833@wcupa.edu.