Tyler the Creator’s Wolf, released in 2013 is an album not quite at the level of his later works, like Igor and Flower Boy. But this is an album that shows hints and glimpses of the genius that is Tyler. His debut album, Bastard, was filled with barbs and insults aimed at then Rap critics not even willing to acknowledge his work, while his next album, Goblin was an attempt at proving his mettle, and his group Odd Future (of which Frank Ocean is also a part of), and proving that they were worth the hype surrounding them.
His two previous works were both works with reasoning behind them, an over-arching purpose, whether it be his anger in the first album, or the need to showcase Odd Future in his second. Wolf, is a pull of the curtains, which reveals the talented introvert within Tyler, and it subverts expectations of Tyler and his song writing. Unlike his previous albums, the rage within him, and the songs are restrained to add more depth to it. This album is far more balanced than his previous efforts, willing to let the music work its charm, without many barbs. It is characteristically nihilistic, as we have come to learn and love about Tyler, but the album contains some great work from Tyler not only as a rapper but also as a music producer.
But the album does not come without its problems. It is not very well-paced, with the album starting on a good tempo, but the middle parts of the album containing the slowest songs placed back to back, which does not work at all. “PartyIsntOver,” “Campfire,” and “Bimmer” are placed together, and sadly it does not work. The three songs are unrelated, and it feels like pegging a square piece into a round hole. “Bimmer” is too fleeting a payoff for the effort it takes to reach it. Honestly, “Bimmer” is far too fleeting, as it is a genuinely enjoyable song, which hopefully Tyler will make an extended version of.
Wolf is luckily also filled with some very good songs, like “Treehome95,” the comedown that is “Lone,” and what is easily my favourite track in the album, “Awkward” which also has the freakishly talented Frank Ocean on it. Despite the issues, it has with pacing, and placement of songs, the album’s music strikes out, not just as unique, but also as very good music. “Awkward” which is referenced before, is a song that talks about the awkwardness of young love, and Tyler treats it as something that took place earlier than he makes it out to be.
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“Domo23” is another track in which we see Tyler get close and personal, starting by calling his manager Christian Clancy a slave master. He then goes into talking about spending time with Justin Bieber and reminds everyone he became rich and famous after eating a cockroach in his “Yonkers” video. This song is not particularly the best, but it is very Tyler, bubbling with controversy, but arrives most simply. One Direction wouldn’t like that he mentions them in it, though.
“Collosus” is similar to Eminem’s “Stan” because they both deal with an erratic fan, who idolizes them too much for the artist to be comfortable with. But it is a version of “Stan” that is on emotional steroids. It changes its tone in nearly every line, with cutesy fan fiction next to sexually maniacal tones that just enhance Tyler’s wish to lead a normal life. And after listening to it, one really can’t deny him that.
The album gets very emotionally fraught very soon, and it never attempts to shy away from that. It sticks true to it, and it shows a very vulnerable side to Tyler, a side which he doesn’t reveal all too often at this point.
A lot of fans use a certain terminology when it comes to Tyler’s albums and the significance they have. Flower Boy is referred to as the blooming of a flower, with Igor symbolizing the death and rotting of the said flower. Wolf is the germination of the plant. This is the first album that has care, which was given some love, which allowed Tyler’s music to take hold of itself, instead of relying on other agencies to showcase itself. This album is a worthy listen, although some songs can be avoided, and you almost certainly need to change the order of songs to enjoy it.