Tyler, the Creator Raps Like the Mogul He's Become on 'CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST'
Published Jun 29, 2021There are very few artists in recent memory who've seen as impressive or intriguing an evolution as Tyler, the Creator. The 30-year-old rapper has transformed from the foul-mouthed leader of chaotic collective Odd Future to a Grammy-award winner who has continually pushed the boundaries of his music with each release and found success in pretty much every other avenue that he's pursued as well.
He's produced and starred in multiple TV series, launched a clothing line, partnered with several brands and created a popular annual music festival, among other things. He's spent the better part of his career exceeding expectations, growing his brand and becoming a mogul in the process — and now, he's rapping like one.
On CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, Tyler is sitting comfortably upon the throne that he's built for himself through his decade-plus-long reign as one of hip-hop's most creative and celebrated figures. It's a complete departure from the experimental R&B-tinged sounds of his Grammy-winning 2019 effort, IGOR, as he replaces themes of heartbreak and insecurity with an infectious confidence and bravado that carries throughout the project. This is Tyler at his peak, fully aware of what he's accomplished and what he's capable of, making music that feels like a well-deserved victory lap for almost the entirety of its 53-minute runtime.
CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST showcases Tyler's mastery of his craft after years of improving and expanding upon his signature sound, exploring different musical styles and sharpening his songwriting ability. It also demonstrates how far he's come in terms of building a world and conceptualizing an album. It's an incredible feat, and it's resulted in the rap album that Tyler has always wanted to make. He's someone who has proudly worn his influences on his sleeve, a student of artists like Pharrell and Lil Wayne, who not only appear as features here but are channelled by Tyler throughout the project in various ways. His production matches the fluidity of Pharrell's early 2000s run, ranging from moments such as the grimy, Gravediggaz-sampling "LUMBERJACK" to the softer, more R&B-leaning instrumentation on "WUSYANAME." Vocally, he approaches a vast majority of these songs with levels of charisma that rival Dedication 2-era Lil Wayne, going for broke on tracks like "CORSO" and "HOT WIND BLOWS."
That's not the only way in which he hearkens back to Wayne's Dedication tapes, as he's brought series host DJ Drama along for the ride. Tyler uses Drama's drops and ad-libs to frame this release as his Gangsta Grillz mixtape, though it never actually feels like a mixtape, and that's for the better. Tyler has a very commanding presence, both vocally and through the excellent instrumentals that he's crafted, making Drama feel less like the album's host and more like a narrator, part of the world that Tyler has built. The same is true with all of the album's featured artists. Nobody sounds out of place no matter how musically different an artist is from Tyler, whether it be 42 Dugg, NBA YoungBoy or Brent Faiyaz. Instead, they each add to the glamorous and luxurious aesthetic that Tyler has crafted.
That aesthetic and its accompanying narrative are the crown jewel of this album, and it all starts with Tyler's latest alter ego: Tyler Baudelaire, a globetrotting millionaire with the world at his fingertips. Tyler uses this character to deliver opulent tales of international vacations, vivid descriptions of several Rolls Royce interiors and a multitude of high-end fashion pieces that sit in his closet.
While Tyler is no stranger to alter egos, using characters such as Wolf Haley and Igor to contextualize his music and the accompanying narratives throughout his discography, Baudelaire is special. He's a character that's given Tyler an avenue to openly explore the excess and wealth that have become commonplace in his life, celebrating the incredible highs he's experienced, as well as detailing the troubles that have come with it.
On "WILSHIRE," the album's eight-and-a-half-minute-long climax, Tyler Baudelaire's tales of excess and grandeur take a detour, as there's a love story that unfolds, buried between the flights and foreign cars. He's fallen in love with his friend's girlfriend, and he's running around with her together behind his friend's back. Feeling the weight of the guilt that comes with it, he calls it off to preserve the friendships and relationships at stake. It's a moment that shows that though he can have pretty much anything that he wants, the one thing that he truly desires is unattainable. It's an instance of vulnerability on an album otherwise overflowing with braggadocio, and a truly special moment in Tyler's discography.
That same sentiment applies to this entire release as well, as it's a tremendous feat. There's a scintillating swagger to CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST that permeates through almost every verse and is accented by just how luxurious the instrumentation feels, with DJ Drama's boisterous detailing of Tyler's lavish lifestyle and exquisite expeditions serving as a perfect garnish.
It's an album that sounds like wealth not just because of its content but by the way it's presented and complemented by all of the surrounding elements. Tyler has delivered a project that yet again pushes the boundaries of his music while simultaneously being a culmination of everything that he's done so far. It's yet another impressive outing for an artist whose reign doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon. (Columbia)