Tyler, The Creator’s fifth studio album is brilliantly produced and overall, expertly executed. It is impossible to say that IGOR doesn’t belong up there, with the best he’s put out since his debut solo studio album Bastard in 2009.
Tyler, The Creator’s fifth album IGOR begins with a sound that’s like the end of the world. It distorts thought, and have you wondering what comes next?
If you follow the artiste on social media, (as you should) you would be privy to his “warning” going into the album: “Don’t go into this expecting a rap album. Don’t go into this expecting any album.” And it is expected, of Tyler to downplay the expectations of his listeners, especially after his 2017 masterpiece “Flower Boy” which as many have suggested, is the most melodic of his music, the best of that version of Tyler who, contrary to what is on display in the first seconds of IGOR, is a serene creator, of serene sounds.
“IGOR’S THEME’ plays out like a boom bap song, but that is just the drum kicks – besides the production are soft keys, snarls, and vocals as sinister and chilling as a horrorcore classic. With the opener, Tyler basically sets a mood, somewhere in the middle between Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. And a Jon Bellion song. As an aside, the song was first teased in a 50-second snippet posted on Tyler’s social media platforms on May 1, 2019, shortly after speculation arose surrounding the album after the release of a Sony Financial Report. “IGOR’S THEME” also features uncredited guest vocals from Lil Uzi Vert and Solange.
The next song, “EARFQUAKE” draws production parallel from Tyler’s two previous projects “Flower Boy” and “Cherry Bomb”. Tyler sings about a love interest, rendering his lines in a moody, slurry way, in perfect contrast to the beautifully organized piano chords and distracted drums. Those plays a part in “I THINK”, a bass-heavy rendition which forces the visual image of a group of uniformed dancers. The next track, “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING” is a slight – there’s a pitched-up voice talking about running from fears and what-not…then nothing, the next song which is so perfectly titled “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”, an emo-inspired song with the usual Tyler distortion. So far, like every solo Tyler project, IGOR has been huge on production.
“NEW MAGIC WAND” was first teased in a 47-second snippet posted on Tyler’s social media platforms on May 14, 2019. The song opens with a grimy beat and features a soft synth change during the bridge – all markers of a NERD influence. “A BOY IS A GUN” features some of the most rapping from Tyler on the album, as he draws a parallel between a problematic relationship and owning a gun in very ingenious ways. Structured as loosely as his artistry, his soft production (which uses in a soul sample for the chorus, and glittery synths and keys littered throughout the background) allows it a gentle landing. This contrast of theme/style of rapping versus production is again, displayed on “PUPPET” and “GONE, GONE/ THANK YOU”.
Perhaps the versatility of the production of IGOR is best displayed in the songs “WHAT’S GOOD” and the closer “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” On the former which features a funky and somewhat 80s Hip Hop paced production, Tyler uses the drums-heavy production to induce shock when, before every verse, there’s a beat distortion, and screeching piano keys come in. On the track, Tyler raps ninety-per cent of the time, with additional vocals from UK rapper slowthai proving credible backup for his intentionally shocking verses.
“ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” starts off with the sombre pace of a depressing country song, before Tyler’s voice sets in, amidst sonic embellishment for the rolling drums. When he asks “Are we still friends?”, there’s already a mood of foreshadowing, an imminent doom which is heightened when it turns “should we be friends?” And that’s the end of IGOR, the one Tyler chooses for his final bow (yet) is honest Tyler, the one who, rather than intentionally deliver shocks and abrupt musical transitions, would air out his sincerest emotions over the most deserving production.
Tyler, The Creator’s fifth studio album is brilliantly produced and overall, expertly executed. The features here don’t take centre stage as they do in their individual careers; instead, they seem to sit beside the production, coming in only when it is absolutely necessary.
As Tyler recommends, it is imperative to enter into IGOR with new ears and there’s no doubt at the end, you’ll be grateful for it. While the influences – NERD, Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator – are easily placed, in the end, you come away with experience only the finest curators of music can afford you. There have been talks of IGOR being Tyler’s best: while that remains to be seen with few more listens, it is impossible to say that IGOR doesn’t belong up there, with the best he’s put out since his debut solo studio album Bastard in 2009.
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