It’s nearly impossible to collectively describe Tyler the Creator’s albums. Themes of revenge, individualism and “not giving a fuck” populate most songs, but the 13 tracks on his newest release, Cherry Bomb, could arguably be featured on 13 different albums from 13 completely different artists.
In this junior album, Tyler explores the highs and lows of his not-so-newfound success, possibly illegal romantic endeavors and even the limits of his mind.
The album begins with the intense “Deathcamp,” featuring twangy guitars and a sound reminiscent of his friend Pharrell’s band, N.E.R.D. Tyler matches the in-your-face sound with lyrics like, “When it’s a lot at stake carne asada let’s be honest, I’m really morphing / Named the album Cherry Bomb cause Greatest Hits sounded boring.”
After “Deathcamp” come two dark songs in “Buffalo” and “Pilot,” in which Tyler confirms he’s willing to do what it takes to be the best, “I don’t wanna crash anymore / I just wanna soar through the space, let the wind hit my face / Til there’s nothing left in the gas tank.”
Next comes the urgent “Run,” followed by the melodic “Find Your Wings,” in which Tyler matches beautiful chords with a short, inspirational verse. Tyler then explodes into an energetic, Yeezy-esque “Cherry Bomb” in which he declares, “Look, I am a god.”
The lyrics on these pieces fit with his earlier “only getting better” aesthetic, but he uses them in different ways, performing them over numerous different types of beats.
“Blowmyload” comes next, a graphic depiction of what Tyler says he wants to do to Cara (possibly Delevingne), followed by a jazzy, orchestral continuation from “Bimmer” in “2seater.” Schoolboy Q then joins Tyler on “The Brownstains,” a dark, loud banger.
Tyler’s relationship chronicles continue with “Fucking Young,” a piece that chronicles his confused relationship with a girl six years younger than him. This “perfect” girl may symbolize that while he’s older in age, he’s still a bit immature. His music speaks for itself and he’s very vocal about how it’s only getting better, but on this piece he seems to play with the idea that he still hasn’t matured much as a person.
No one could have anticipated Kanye West’s and Lil Wayne’s features on “Smuckers,” a track reminiscent of his previous album Bastard, in which he, again, tells of how much better he is than other rappers. However, the interesting mix of personalities fits well with the dynamic nature of the album. Normally associating these rappers with one another would be like associating Badgers with Gophers, but the fact that they appear on the same album exemplifies the massive changes that have taken place in his music.
“Keep da Os” follows, a robotic-sounding track that breaks down into a mind-bending, melodic number near the end. The last song on the album is the slow love song, “Okaga CA.”
One can see an obvious progression from Bastard to Cherry Bomb. It’s important to realize that part of this is due to circumstances; Tyler was a young, poor kid from the suburbs of LA during Bastard. Since then he has acquired money, fame and problems, and with these diverse additions has come diversity in his music itself.
He’s now at a point where he doesn’t rap about his struggles because he doesn’t have as many. Instead of letting his imagination write the lyrics as on Bastard, he now lets his actual experiences dictate what his music is about. And based on the range of instrumentals and topics featured on his new album, it’s obvious that his life is a complex one.
While never losing the raw emotion his music has always shown, the songs on Cherry Bomb sound more refined. We still get a glimpse into the confines of his mind, but this time he’s decided what he wants us to see. But does this mean that Tyler is no longer the reckless, pessimistic individual we’ve grown to love? In his own words:
“Nah faggot, it’s Golf Wang.”