Scum F*** Flower Boy- Tyler, the Creator (2017)
Tyler, the Creator has just released his fourth album, ‘Scum F*** Flower Boy’, and as the name suggests, the album shows him exploring both sides of his personality, although the side labelled ‘Flower Boy’ is definitely seen to take centre stage- making this his most sensitive and gentle work so far.
Although I’ve never listened to much (if any) of his material in the past, I was actually prompted to listen to this new album due to the appearance of a little-known British singer, going by the name of Rex Orange County, on several tracks. It seems bizarre that an artist with under 200k monthly listeners (according to Spotify) would introduce me to one with nearly 5 million, but something tells me that he won’t be little-known for much longer. Appearing on tracks ‘Foreword’ and ‘Boredom’, he gives light, breezy vocals that contrast with the deep staccato of Tyler’s rapping- and most reviews do indeed focus on the centrality of guest singers on the album, which have been used to (perfectly) compliment both Tyler’s distinctive voice, and his choice of themes.
It is clear to me that Frank Ocean was a big influence to the overall sound of this album- appearing himself on track ‘Where This Flower Blooms’, his calm and swinging vocals match perfectly with the synth and heavy drumbeats (which can be easily compared to those seen on ‘Blonde’, his own most recent album). The entire record sounds very relaxed; more meditative and reflective than his previous more wild sound. Having said that, both of the two sides of his personality suggested in the album title can still clearly be distinguished from one another- ‘Scum F***’ is perhaps more prominent on tracks such as the slightly more harsh ‘November’, whereas ‘Flower Boy’ is showcased on tracks like ‘Foreword’ or ‘Garden Shed’.
Tyler has obviously been no stranger to controversy in the past, and this continues (as expected) on the album- albeit mostly in a different vein. On the track ‘I Ain’t Got Time’, he seems to confirm the rumours that have recently been rife about his sexuality- rapping that he had been ‘kissing white boys since 2004’. This doesn’t appear to match up with previous allegations of his homophobia, so perhaps this album can be interpreted as the turning point of his career into a more relaxed, and self-aware, artist.
Personally, I was never a fan of this genre particularly until the arrival of Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ in 2016, but this album definitely rivals that in terms of depth, and contrast between lazy, relaxed tracks and more harsh, active ones. Another aspect of the album that struck me was its honesty- the tracks, cumulatively, are an insight into Tyler’s inner thoughts and his mindset, and I find that sort of intimacy on an album to be endlessly fascinating. An air of vulnerability suggested in his lyrics, and background sound, is perfectly balanced by the coarse sound of his voice itself.
I’ve given it a rating of 4 stars, purely for the reason that I hesitate to give any album 5- in this case, the thing that perhaps swung it for me was the over-presence of synth-y backgrounds; for me, sometimes they can dominate over vocals and almost drown them out. Other than that, the album is a masterclass in how to engage listeners, and I would highly recommend it to any rap fan; even if you’re not a rap fan, the presence of more relaxed tracks makes for fantastic chores/work music, so I strongly urge you to give it a try!
see you soon!