The long awaited and highly anticipated IGOR finally dropped, drawing a rift between Tyler fans, with half of them mildly disappointed and the other half bewildered by Tyler’s creative dive into gritty emotion. With such a big divide, is Tyler, the Creator‘s new project really a step up from Flower Boy, or has he digressed in artistic ability?
In my opinion, IGOR cannot be compared to Flower Boy, as many critics of the album are trying to do. This is not Flower Boy, this is an entirely new project, so there is no use putting the two in the same category; Tyler, himself, has warned listeners that they should not expect to Hear Goblin, Wolf, Cherry Bomb, or Flower Boy on this insane new album.
Instead, IGOR begs to be seen as its own entity. It is unlike anything that has ever been released. To do a track-by-track analysis would be a disservice to the album, as each track, from IGOR’S THEME to ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? weaves seamlessly between one another, defining what it means to have an album rather than a mere collection set of songs.
Yet, to ignore each track wholly would also be a disservice to Tyler. Every song is diverse and unique, combining classical hip hop and soul elements mixed in with an indescribable magic that makes this album entirely different from anything else Tyler (or any other artist, for that matter) has put out in his career. Tracks like WHAT’S GOOD highlight Tyler’s inner darkness and his struggle to deal with isolation, with grimy, sullen bass-lines layered under psychedelic synth melodies, while tracks like EARFQUAKE give listeners a break from the black depths of Tyler’s soul and provide instances of hope that the artist will find love.
Perhaps the biggest critique of IGOR that has been floating around, though, is that no single track stands out, that none of the tracks are as memorable or as catchy as those on Flower Boy. This however, is not actually a negative aspect. Tyler told fans to listen to the album straight through with minimal distractions; this is how it was meant to be heard. As a result, no single track should stand out. Each track is incomprehensible without hearing the ones before and after it. Sure, this album may not be as “catchy,” but it displays the newfound creative maturity of Tyler, The Creator and shows that he is able to diversify from his early lo-fi, angry rap days and the jazzy, bight tunes off of Flower Boy.
I think the hidden reason people are turned off by IGOR is because it is unfamiliar. Humans have the tendency to compartmentalize. We put seconds into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, and so forth. We place movies, literature, and most notably, music, into genres, forcing artists to adhere and embellish on old tropes. IGOR, however, fits no genre. Again, it has elements of hip hop and soul, but those are just two pieces of a much larger puzzle. The harmonies and themes of IGOR are unparalleled in their creativity, unable to be limited by one single genre.
Tyler, the Creator‘s ability to mesh gritty, roughly produced themes and bass-lines with hi-fi drums and choruses creates an atmospheric album that leaves an impression. Listeners should come out of their first IGOR experience somewhat confused. Tyler leaves a lot to dive into and explore. The uniqueness of this project can make it a bit intimidating but, in the end, Tyler, the Creator‘s strong artistry wins out in what might be his most ambitious project to date.