There’s no doubt that Tyler, the Creator continues to be one the most polarising figures in the music industry with a well defined creative vision. Cultivated through his Golf clothing line, Odd Future label and group, Loiter Squad Youtube channel and most recently the Golf App.
So preoccupied with his other projects, and frustrated with the expectation he would continue rapping, he toyed with the idea and became vocal last year about quitting music. With this, the sudden drop of Cherry Bomb came as a pleasant surprise to fans.
Rising as an icon of teenage rebellion by rejecting pop-culture – with the exception of a strange Pharrell fetish – he goes out of his way to be difficult to handle in interviews, subject to fits of abuse. He has a brilliant mind at times though (when you cut through his childish behaviour), thinking deeply about the world to the point where he can’t take it seriously anymore, consumed by rage at the dumb restraints the adult-world place on him.
Tyler appears to be in two minds about his approach on this album. He is battling between not caring, and a fear of failure. He tussles between being angry or nice, being soulful or bleeding the tracks with distortion, and sticking to the system or being afraid of getting in trouble. This translates as an infinite frustration, which lays the foundation for Cherry Bomb.
He declares his aggression before you even press play just looking down a tracklist all in capitals, which comes as no surprise given every tweet he writes takes the same suit. Aggressive electric guitar riffs drive the album opener ‘DEATHCAMP’, which has rightfully drawn many comparisons to a N.E.R.D production. Unreadable for the most of it, particularly in ‘DEATHCAMP’, his verses are lost behind his heavy instrumentation.
There are two distinct gears that Tyler takes in the instrumentation of this album, which is worth mentioning he produced entirely. There is the neo-soul smoothness that marks tracks like ‘FIND YOUR WINGS’ and ‘2SEATER’. ‘FUCKING YOUNG/ PERFECT’ is a clear standout, which rekindles the vibes he experimented with on tracks like ‘Slater’ off his last album, Wolf.
There is a disturbing juxtaposition between the smoothness of the beat and the questionable (and offensive) statutory rape references. The opposite gear he takes is a chaotic distortion that consumes tracks like ‘CHERRY BOMB’. Trying to create something so radically different, he pushes too far into a dissonant territory at times and flops, with each song an amalgamation of ideas, with beat changing regularly. This in tone creates a dividing of songs in a rather stark fashion.
It’s still made of the same fabric as any Odd Future album, with tracks like like ‘PILOT’ and ‘BUFFALO’ paying homage to hardcore rap. Distorted synth overlays and off kilter drum patterns run rampant however, particularly on tracks like ‘PILOT’.
Interestingly, Tyler happily shares features with Kanye West and Lil Wayne that appear on track ‘SMUCKERS’, hidden as the third last track. Like always, Kanye notoriously puts substandard efforts when he is a feature artist, ditching the autotune and taking the lead role with an undeniably catchy flow.
Cherry Bomb is another confirmation that Tyler is politically incorrect, with his insistence on making homophobic slurs dragging him into a pit which appears he’ll probably never grow out of. Passing it off as part of his mucho bravado, part of his act in generating aggression, but it remains an ugly stain to his music.
I wouldn’t recommend Tyler to my family just yet, as it seems his music is still controlled by those demons he tries to exorcise through his rapping. However, while Cherry Bomb may not be a game-changer for the world of rap, it is a notable evolution in his musical production.
Cherry Bomb is out now via via Odd Future Records.