Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

National Album Review: Wolf by Tyler, the Creator

Posted on April 08, 2013 in Arts & Culture, Music
By Sam Hill

Tyler, the Creator has outdone himself with Wolf, which sounds like his most engrossing work yet.

The eccentric, foul-mouthed Odd Future ringleader is still rapping without a filter, but he seems to be more focused in his third release (as focused as he can be, at least). A collection of misanthropic confessions and, of course, riddled with vulgar humor, Wolf dives into Tyler’s  insecurities about fame, relationships with women and his broken childhood. His invented therapist from previous releases Bastard and Goblin doesn’t make an appearance, but it seems Tyler is comfortable taking on these deep-rooted issues on his own now.

Tyler is known for being a brash, ignorant punk who can’t seem to sit still or keep his mouth shut, but Wolf reminds listeners why they started paying attention to him years ago. Tyler can masterfully pull out these deep, dark emotions from his music that everyone has felt and put them into words.  It’s easy to forget that Tyler is an introvert at heart because he’s been in the spotlight and bumping from the stereos of outcast kids for three years now. There is a clear progression within his work. Bastard brought issues to light, Goblin celebrated them, and now Wolf is attempting to solve them.

“I f—–g hate you / but I love you / I’m bad at keeping my emotions bubbled,” raps Tyler on “IFHY,” as he explains his passive aggressive and jealous tendencies over a heavy drum track and somber organ line that manages to perfectly match his lyrics. He continues that thought on “Slater” when he goes on to discuss women over a more relaxed, snare-filled track as he rides his bike around town.  Then on “Pigs” he raps from the perspective of a bullied mass shooter (think Eminem’s character from “Brain Damage” all grown up) as police sirens wail in the background. Every track has an entirely different concept attached to it, and you really have to have a willing suspension of disbelief to get into them.

Of course there are also more upbeat tracks with other members of the OF collective. Earl Sweatshirt and Domo Genesis jump in with Tyler on “Rusty,” which has some of the hardest verses on the album. That’s followed by the Wocka Flocka-esque “Trashwang,” which sounds like something off the collective’s The OF Tape Vol. 2. and it is probably the closest thing to trap-rap that Tyler will ever release.  Jasper Dolphin is on it, delivering his standard less-than-stellar, but entertaining, performance, along with Taco and Left Brain in the hook. It’s all in good fun.

However juvenile it may be at times, Wolf is the most imaginative hip-hop album to be released in years. During the first listen, you might think that this is just another album with the same ol’ Tyler on it, but after a couple of times through, the growth is impossible to miss.