Label: Columbia Records
Released: 25th June 2021
Almost a decade ago, Odd Future, the group Tyler, The Creator initially found fame with, caused such a moral panic that Tyler himself was banned from entering the UK in 2012. This ban was finally lifted in 2019, by which time Tyler had swapped ‘edgy’ lyrics about date rape for soul-flecked tunes exploring his vulnerability and, more obliquely, his sexuality.
With new album ‘CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST’, Tyler has fused these two sides of his discography. It’s half tender, synth-led moments and half hard-hitting hip-hop. The latter may have had the controversial edges sanded off since the days of debut album ‘Goblin’, but it still hits just as hard, helped along by a slew of perfectly placed guest features (The one-two punch of Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell Williams on ‘JUGGERNAUT’ is a particular joy).
Ahead of the album’s release, Tyler built an image of new trapper hat-clad character Sir Tyler Baudelaire – whether that’s a reference to the decadent poet or just an extravagant French name is never clarified. As Tyler himself sums up on ‘BLESSED’: “It’s opulence, baby!” This character has more of an impact in the accompanying videos and skits which Tyler’s been uploading at pace around the album’s release, but much like with ‘IGOR’s titular character, expect him to lean in a lot more once live music makes it back.
The Tyler who made ‘Goblin’, ‘Wolf’ and ‘Cherry Bomb’ feels very different to the Tyler that made ‘Flower Boy’ and ‘Igor’. ‘CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST’ even acknowledges this on ‘MASSA’: “That caterpillar went to cocoon, do you get me? / See, I was shiftin’, that’s really why Cherry Bomb sounded so shifty”. It may not have been a flawless transition, and ‘Cherry Bomb’ itself remains a complete mess, but Tyler, The Creator has now emerged from his cocoon as a beautiful hip-hop butterfly. It’s rare that an album as close to flawless as this gets released – although we do wish he’d avoided the pointless addition of DJ Drama shouting nonsense across parts of the album’s first half.