By Erin Christie
California native Tyler Okonma is more notably known as Tyler, the Creator, his illustrious nom de plume that’s gathered quite a bit of history and recognition to boot. Under this alias, Tyler has risen to unsurmountable fame within the music scene, having been dubbed the “founder of alternative hip hop” through his various roles in the industry as rapper, producer, music video director, and even fashion designer (among other positions). Throughout the years, his rise to prominence and climb to superstar-status is one that has seemingly been easily continued following the release of his debut album, Goblin (XL Recordings) during the early spring of 2011. Since that fateful year, Tyler has only been reaching new heights and breaking new boundaries, whether in terms of his record-breaking smash hits, or success with his own streaming service, Gold Media. His fourth and most recent album, Flower Boy, is another stunningly massive notch in his belt (especially considering that this is the first of his studio releases to be supported by a major record label, Columbia Records).
Between his third and fourth album, Tyler took a bit of a creative break, but on June 29th , 2017, he resurrected and re-claimed his audience’s captivation with an ever-iconic track entitled “Who Dat Boy” featuring A$AP Rocky. Soon after, he followed with another track, titled “911/ Mr. Lonely” and featuring Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean, and Anna of the North. These two tracks sparked a completely new era for Tyler, characterized by bright autumn hues, angelic riffs accompanied by beautifully colorful harmonies, jaw-dropping collaborations with legends such as Jaden Smith, Kali Uchis, and Estelle (to name a few), and hard-ass beats that could truly and honestly make a grown man cry. In the age of Flower Boy, it seems that all of Tyler’s cards have been placed on the table. Such a risky move is surely paying off.
Following the subsequent release of singles “Boredom” and the popping “I Ain’t Got Time!,” Flower Boy reached the ears of many, burning a trail through the charts and through the minds and hearts of all who it encountered. Debuting at number two on the Billboard 200, this album, like many of Tyler’s past, is filled to the absolute brim with hidden treasures, many of which may get lost in the twists and turns of melancholy, nostalgia, growth, hype, and love represented in various ways throughout.
Throughout this record, listeners can get a real and sincere look into Tyler’s own mind and heart, whether in terms of the true rage and frustration exhibited in “I Ain’t Got Time,” the pain of unrequited love displayed in “See You Again,” or the pure expression of longing for connection (tinged with a bit of controversy) in the poetic “Garden Shed.” This is something relatively new, but entirely refreshing, for Tyler. A beautiful mosaic of mixed feelings, daydreams, and buzzing bees, Flower Boy is comprised of some of the simplest, yet most wonderfully expressive pieces of music that I have ever heard.
From facing road bumps throughout this record’s creation, to solely producing and writing a vast majority of Flower Boy, to having it sell so well and receiving the critical acclaim of many, Tyler the Creator has once again proved that he is beyond worthy of the praise and recognition that he has received over the years. Flower Boy, a true testament to Tyler’s raw talent and innovation, is a record that mustn’t be overlooked. Despite his controversy-riddled past, this album feels like a rebirth, a new beginning, an emersion from the cocoon, and that, in itself, is a truly amazing thing. Pursuing growth and exploring his own feelings, Flower Boy is a true journey of self- discovery and as we follow him on this path, one cannot help but take a break to smell the sunflowers.