(Image: Columbia/Odd Future/Sony)
A friend of mine heard a leak of this and told me it was better than 'Damn'. Commenters in hip hop-centred Facebook groups threw around claims of "AOTY" as quickly as the links started popping up on The Pirate Bay.
I didn't buy it. At all.
Tyler is a talented producer. I mean, he has one of the hardest beats of this decade to his name in 'Yonkers'. He's given us consistently mildly enjoyable albums since 2009. His delivery is unique. He has some clever wordplay in his repertoire. But album of the year? Even if he had a stack of A-grade beats to work with, he's just not skilled enough on the mic or strong enough melodically to make an album of that calibre, surely?
I underestimated Tyler. It may not be album of the year, but it has exceeded all of my expectations, and it's not far off.
This is a guy who has long ridden the wave of his accentuated immaturity in his music. He threw himself into the spotlight by being outrageous, vulgar and controversial. It was entertaining. A little gimmicky at times. But when he said he would "crash that fucking airplane that that faggot nigga B.O.B is in and stab Bruno Mars in his God damn esophagus" as his alter-ego 'Wolf Haley', well, it put his name in some headlines at the very least.
(Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America)
The Tyler we hear on Scum Fuck Flower Boy is far more mature and measured. He's every bit as honest, but it's refreshing to see that honesty come from a more introspective than abusive place. It feels more like the real him, and less like forced shock fodder.
He has still created headlines too, only this time for lyrics indicating that he's gay, something he has hinted at in the past and bravely discussed on 'Garden Shed' and 'I Ain't Got Time', surprising many of those who have listened to him throw around the word "faggot" so liberally over his career. I say bravely, not because I don't realise the nuanced attitude towards homosexuality that is prevalent in today's society makes coming out of the closet just as likely to be beneficial as detrimental, but because this is hip hop, and Tyler's core fan base is not exactly one you would expect to be universally accepting of such a revelation. They haven't been either.
Fellow Odd Future member and former closet dweller Frank Ocean makes a glorious cameo on '911/Mr Lonely'. That is a standout, but this is a complete project. If we're buying into the competitive nature of the genre, and of course we are, it holds leverage over the likes of Joey Badass's 'All Amerikkkan Badass', JID's 'The Never Story' and Logic's 'Everybody' in its lack of fillers.
If you're an existing Tyler fan, hopefully you'll be impressed by the growth and maturation displayed on this record. If you've found him too intensely vulgar and childish in the past, now might be the time to reassess that.
MAN ABOUT ADL rating: 8/10
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