First Take: Tyler, The Creator – Igor

A break up album with the past...

A few hours ago Tyler, The Creator released his new album 'Igor', his first since 2017's 'Flower Boy'.

It's another multi-faceted offering, controversial and highly personal in equal measure, with Tyler surging into fresh ground.

Nick Roseblade has been grappling with it all night – here's his First Take on the album…

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Since he first burst on an unsuspecting world Tyler, The Creator ushered in a breath of fresh air to hip-hop. Tyler, and his Odd Future crew, ripped up the rule book and released the skewed and vibrant hip-hop they wanted to listen to.

That was a decade ago. Now Tyler is a major player worldwide and part of hip-hop’s furniture and vernacular. With his sixth album ‘Igor’ Tyler again not only pushes himself, but what hip-hop should be in 2019.

The album opens with ‘Igor’s Theme’ and ‘Earfquake’. The first thing you notice is how laidback the album feels. The usual bombastic beats, basslines and guttural vocals have been replaced with glorious soul samples and a charismatic bounce.

‘Igor’s Theme’ has a great bassline that demands to be played at deafening volumes and ‘Earfquake’ is filled with heartache and pathos. Lyrically the track contains the album's most eviscerating moments: “Don’t leave it’s my fault” and “You don't want my conversation (I don't want no conversation), I just need some confirmation on how you feel (For real)”. 

These motifs follow on until ‘New Magic Wand’. This has the most abrasive and Tyer-esque vibes. Filthy beats and basslines remind us that he’s still as devastating as before. The standout track is ‘Gone, Gone/Thank You’. Acoustic guitars, massive hooks, sing-a-chorus launch themselves from the speakers at you. The results are overwhelming. ‘Gone, Gone/Thank You’ shows that Tyler is capable of writing dazzling pop.

‘Igor’ sees Tyler on a more reflective and, dare we say, mellow mood. The trademark visceral beats, scathing lyrics and the general feeling of anger and aggression that peppered his previous albums have been replaced with slower beats and irresistible soul hooks. At first this change in tone, and pace, is jarring and you are waiting for it to kick off, but as the album progresses you get into it and dig this new Tyler.

Yes there are moments when he lets rip on ‘New Magic Wand’, ‘A Boy is a Gun’ and ‘What’s Good’ for example that are massively fun and conjure up a Tyler of old, but when the album clicks back into the groove you embrace this new found growth.

Ultimately ‘Igor’ shows a maturity that his previous albums have been accused of missing. Tyler has grown up a lot over the past decade, mostly in public, and this is on display on ‘Igor’. At times this feels like the definitive breakup album. But given Tyler’s schizophrenia ability to talk to, and about, himself is he breaking up with his past?

The album closes with ‘Are We Still Friends?’ – is Tyler asking an ex if everything is cool, himself, or is it aimed at us? Is he asking if we’re still mates due to his change in tone and style? Yes Tyler, of course. Possibly more than 40 minutes ago.


Words: Nick Rosebade

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