Tyler, the Creator has cemented a name for himself as one of the most groundbreaking rappers of modern hip-hop. Crafting a different character for each album he releases, the rapper melds his music and his experiences into a chaotic but decorated discography that offers solace and empathy to his listeners. His sixth studio album (seventh, if you count his mixtape Bastard), Call Me If You Get Lost, sees Tyler, the Creator entering the next cycle in his life — one in which he has matured immensely, without losing touch with his past.
With his last award-winning release, Igor, being more of an experimental nonrap album, Call Me If You Get Lost returns to rap and hip-hop’s traditional roots, channeled largely through DJ Drama’s energized quips and the smooth, delicate instrumentals cradling Tyler’s low verses. The production on the album is exceptional, oozing the influence of a carefree but trailblazing artist.
“Sir Baudelaire,” the first of 16 songs, introduces the rapper’s newest persona, Tyler Baudelaire, and follows a similar introductory pattern as Igor did with “Igor’s Theme.” The song is suave with a light piano beat and DJ Drama interjecting in between Tyler’s verses, characterizing Sir Baudelaire as a man of wealth and taste. “My skin soak up the sun, ain’t shakin’ hands with you bums,” he raps.
“Corso” finds Tyler, the Creator detailing his newfound social life after the success of his previous releases. With punchy lyrics such as “’Bout to spend millions just to fill voids up” and “Remember I was rich so I bought me some new emotions,” set to refined beats that reflect his so-called posh status in life, he shares his struggles with materialism and escapism as well as his distancing from some of his former personas. “I don’t even like using the word ‘bitch’/ It just sounded cool,” he says in the outro, recalling the controversy of misogyny surrounding his 2011 album, Goblin.
But despite all the tellings of Tyler Baudelaire’s endeavors scattered through the album, there is no common theme weaving all the songs together. Instead, Call Me If You Get Lost sounds like a series of snapshots from his character’s life. Listeners still get to know Mr. Baudelaire to the fullest, but in a more relaxed and coolly thrown-together manner rather than through a set storyline.
It’s this disarray that harkens back to the times of Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy. Tyler’s evolution can be traced directly from the two releases and their predecessors through the similar beats and song topics — but the newest record doesn’t have the same angst he harbored before. His perspective has shifted from that of an angry, identity-torn youngster to a more sophisticated version that still retains his distinct mischievous spark.
“Sweet / I Thought You Wanted to Dance” and “Wilshire” are each notable for being long compositions at 10 minutes and eight and a half minutes respectively, while most songs on the album clock in at three minutes or less. Featuring soft reggae and electronic accents that soundtrack tender yet conflicted tellings of love, the first of the two is a rollercoaster of emotion, self-discovery and knowing when to let go. Here, Tyler Baudelaire is a polished version of Igor, but sometimes, as revealed in the lyrics, he does regress, as he is only human.
Overall, Call Me If You Get Lost is an excellent album that rivals not only Tyler, the Creator’s previous releases but a majority of new and old albums that have built the cornerstone of hip-hop and rap. Tyler, the Creator makes it clear that Call Me If You Get Lost is not Igor, nor is it any of his former releases. It is a different iteration of himself, a culmination of his recent and old life experiences that have temporarily shaped his ever-fluid personality. While the record may bear some resemblances to the rapper’s old self, it is its own beast entirely.