Album Review: Tyler, The Creator | Cherry Bomb
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. That name alone would be enough to turn off most listeners from OFWGKTA leader Tyler, the Creator‘s off-kilter brand of Los Angeles rap. Notable for his shock lyrics and juvenility, Tyler has been fairly prolific as an artist, and earlier this week released his fourth studio album Cherry Bomb. His first two albums, Bastard and Goblin, have the quintessential Tyler sound: horrorcore synths layered under Tyler’s distinctive growl. While I didn’t really enjoy these two albums, I was compelled by the story around Tyler and Odd Future, and anxiously awaited Tyler’s third LP, Wolf. This record was one of my highlights of 2013. It really saw Tyler grow as a producer, and his influences (most notably The Neptunes) really shown through. Introspective songs like “Answer” and “IFHY” were relatable, and bangers like “Jamba” and “Domo23” blared through my speakers throughout the summer of 2013.
That brings us to Cherry Bomb. The first two singles, “Deathcamp” and “Fucking Young”, couldn’t have been more different. “Deathcamp” was an angry piece of rap-rock that was difficult to listen to; in fact, it was difficult to hear what Tyler was saying at all on this track. Meanwhile, “Fucking Young” may have been the lushest song Tyler has released to date. There is limited rapping in this song, and Tyler shifts his vocals in an effort to sing about this girl who’s much younger than him. He loves the girl but is paranoid about police showing up in some sort of statutory situation. It’s a little bit jarring, but a pretty and easy-to-listen-to song nonetheless.
While Tyler has shown that he can be thoughtful and can make interesting production, not much of that shows up on this record. He rips off Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Board” sample of Bunny Siglers’s “Shake Your Booty” on the track “Buffalo”, which is confusing: the sample doesn’t add anything to the song. Later on, songs like “Cherry Bomb” and “Run” are just incredibly unpleasant to hear. I wasn’t compelled to come back to listen to these tracks, and they suffer from the same issue as “Deathcamp” in that there’s no way to know what Tyler’s saying. It’s like listening to a poor Death Grips instrumental without any of the personality. The title track is probably my least favorite Tyler song to date, behind classics like “Bitch Suck Dick” and “Sandwitches”. It’s just no good.
While a lot of the N.E.R.D.-inspired tracks on this album left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, the sweeter, prettier songs on the album redeemed a lot of enjoyment. “Find Your Wings” is Tyler’s least angry song to date. It talks about taking control of someone’s own life and finding their place in the world, but it seems out of place on Cherry Bomb. The strings on “2 Sea Her” are beautiful, and help make it my favorite track on the album. I really enjoyed Lil Wayne‘s feature on “Smuckers”; Kanye West shows up as well, but Tunechi steals the track.
While the production makes a large portion of this album a tough listen, what really hurts the LP is Tyler’s insistence on using the word “faggot”. It’s annoying. He’s almost 25 years old. People respect his music, and he doesn’t need to rely on shock value to attract people to his music anymore. The use of homophobic slurs nearly invalidates the entire album.
I wanted to enjoy Cherry Bomb. I like Tyler’s discography, especially when collaborating with fellow Odd Future members Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and Hodgy Beats. We’ve seen that Tyler can make compelling statements in the media, and his marketing with Odd Future is compelling. I just wish he had music that helped retain my interest.
Parker’s five favorite Odd Future songs
Odd Future | “Oldie”
Frank Ocean | “Super Rich Kids” (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)
Tyler, the Creator | “She” (feat. Frank Ocean)
Earl Sweatshirt | “Hive” (feat. Vince Staples)
Earl Sweatshirt | “Sunday” (feat. Frank Ocean)
Five songs I’m listening to this week
Tyler, the Creator | “Fucking Young”
Chance the Rapper | “Sunday Candy” (feat. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment”
Waxahatchee | “La Loose”
The Mountain Goats | “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero”