“Don’t go into this expecting a rap album.” Tyler, the Creator was right to warn us. IGOR, the rapper’s fifth album, is not a rap album — at least in the traditional sense. Yes, it includes many elements that you could deign hip hop (rapping, trap production, braggadocio lyrics), but the core of the record is deeply rooted in contemporary R&B and offers a new avenue for Tyler to express himself through. Often utilizing an underdeveloped singing voice, the rapper dives into the most emotional sides of his extraordinarily complex psyche to mine his feelings on love; summing up IGOR in one, succinct sentence, it is a fusion of Cherry Bomb’s experimental sonic palette and Flower Boy’s thoughtful lyricism.
Much like Solange’s When I Get Home — on which Tyler contributed to multiple tracks — IGOR features a host of unnamed collaborators, from the tried-and-true Santigolds and Pharrell Williams’ to the new and unexpected Lil Uzi Verts and Charlie Wilsons. While some appearances blend into the production of the tracks, dipping in and out at will and adding beautiful layers to an already gorgeous soundscape, others offer almost nothing to the project. The worst of these offences is on “PUPPET,” which Kanye West holds hostage with an inconsequential verse (not unlike much of his recent outings).
Despite a bloated guest list that occasionally produces less-than-stellar results, the record shines in many moments that included both Tyler and his cohorts. The Playboi Carti-featuring “EARFQUAKE” is a sweet ode to a lover that rocks the rapper’s world; “I THINK” is a Solange standout where our protagonists come to the realization that they’re falling in love; and “A BOY IS A GUN” ingeniously compares a relationship to the dangers of owning a firearm. But the absolute standout of the album is “WHAT’S GOOD,” an aggressive and assured jab at the rapper’s detractors that feels the most like his previous output and sure to be an appreciated detour from the rest of the album for the longtime stans. Even if IGOR is not the manic rap album many listeners anticipated and hoped for, Tyler, the Creator has crafted a record that feels the most emotionally authentic to him right now, and it will undoubtedly earn a place in those listeners’ hearts after proper digestion.
Standout tracks: “EARFQUAKE,” “I THINK,” “A BOY IS A GUN,” “WHAT’S GOOD”