REVIEW / IGOR, Tyler The Creator wants you to dance through a story of heartbreak.



Tyler The Creator wants you to dance through a story of heartbreak. On May 17th, 2019, Tyler released his 5th studio album Igor. An album that is already on the list for one of the best albums of the year and the song of the summer with “Earfquake”. The self produced and self arranged album helped Tyler make history by going number one on the Billboard 200 chart and being the first rapper to do so.  The trajectory of Tyler’s career is starting to reach the stratosphere after 2017’s Flower Boy and the arrival Igor cements that. Flower Boy was the first Tyler album I connected with personally and converted a lot of new fans. Even with its heavy R&B influences it was still on brand for a Tyler album with a ton of rap, Igor feels different. Yes, there's plenty of hip-hop but I don't necessarily consider it a hip-hop album. Let’s discuss.

Igor begins with a distorted bass line for “Igor’s Theme” and you are served a hard hitting helping of boom bap drums along with a melodic hook from Lil Uzi Vert. Transitioning to “Earfquake” you will be singing and dancing along instantly as the foundation to this love story begins to settle. The synth and bass heavy track has features from Playboy Carti and Charlie Wilson. “I Think” continues the dance party and Tyler makes he first rapping presence on the record. The album features a lot of singing by Tyler but it is often layered with an effect. The story that unfolds is a love triangle with and some have noticed that it has some similarities to the the 2018 drama “Call Me By Your Name”. The narrative is assisted with anecdotes from Jerrod Carmichael. The middle section of the album goes through a couple different moods. 

From the R&B inspired “Running Out Of Time” to the boisterous banger “New Magic Wand” to the sad realization in “Puppet” with contributions from Kanye West. “What’s Good” gives you a classic hip hop drum pattern and is the last rap song on the record. Every Tyler The Creator album has a double song at track 10, “Gone Gone / Thank You” is that track. While upbeat for the first half the verse unfolds more of the love story into the slower “Thank you” and “I Don’t Love You Anymore”. At this point you realize the story hasn’t gone his way. Solonage Knowles laces this track with underlying harmonies. The album concludes with soulful and agonizing “Are We Still Friends” with contributions from Pharrell, Al Green, and Jack White on guitar. As this track rounds out the 12 track, 39 minute narrative it leaves you thinking “who hurt you, Tyler, who hurt you?” And also resonates with anyone who has had a serious break up and in your search for closure you may find yourself asking “Are we still friends?”

For me, Igor is most enjoyable while listening to in the car but there is no wrong way to enjoy this album. This album plays from front to back everytime. From the song structures to the transitions, you can’t just listen to one track or skip around. More importantly the success has rewarded Tyler for making an honest piece of art and that is something hip hop and all music needs. 

Rating: A

Notable tracks: Earfquake, New Magic Wand, Gone Gone / Thank You & Are We Still Friends?

Rickie McCanna