There’s a moment of pure uncut self awareness on Tyler, The Creator’s riveting new album Call Me If You Get Lost that is reminiscent of a bully calling up a victim to atone for past sins. It comes right at the tail end of the second track “CORSO” after Tyler spits for two and half minutes about, first, being on top of the world and pissing on all those doubters looking on high and then about the girl he tried to steal from another man only to be left heartbroken.
As the track’s aggressive hard edge begins to soften in its final seconds, he says sheepishly “I don’t even like using the word ‘bitch.’ It just sounded cool.” You can practically visualize Tyler walking out of the vocal booth with his tail between his legs afterwards and the song is able to cover both his greatness and insecurities as he raps about playing demos at Madison Square Garden in one verse and then being so heartbroken to the point where he needs to buy “new emotions” in the next.
Coming up for air after the world dominating and fully immersive artistic metamorphosis that was 2019’s IGOR, Tyler decided to unlace his moon boots and slide back into his Vans for a relatively low stakes mixtape-style album that finds him at his most relaxed and playful. While the album is most stylistically reminiscent of his early ODD FUTURE projects like GOBLIN and WOLF, there is a feeling throughout the Call Me If You Get Lost that Tyler is aiming to revisit that style with the well-traveled knowledge he now possesses after a decade of refining his skills as a rapper and a producer.
On the introspective “MASSA,”Tyler addresses the awkward transitional period he was going through on his most divisive album Cherry Bomb. “When I turned twenty-three that’s when puberty finally hit me. My facial hair started growin’, my clothes they ain’t really fit me,” he raps in a calm and metered baritone, adding, “That caterpillar went to cocoon, do you get messy? I was shiftin’ that’s really why Cherry Bomb sounded so shifty.”
But while it may sound like a regression after two back-to-back game changers—FLOWER BOY and IGOR—the album comes off with the sense of assuredness of a kid blasting through a videogame on “easy” in record time after flawless run on the hardest setting. In a hilarious move that comes off downright charming as hell, Tyler is aided throughout the album by legendary mixtape fixture DJ Drama who acts as both hype man and master of ceremonies. Juxtaposed with Tyler’s shit-talking and often self-deprecating lyrics, having Drama blast off braggadocious introductions track after track almost seems like satire on the hip-hop arms race and the constant need for MCs in the mainstream to assert themselves. But more than anything, it adds an element of flat out fun to the album that may be surprising for fans wondering where Tyler would be taking us after the Warhol wig wearing days.
With a seamless flow of easy bangers, this is without a doubt the Summer cookout album of 2021. While there are numerous guests who are invited to Tyler’s victory lap party throughout, including a lightning in a bottle verse from Lil Wayne (“HOT WIND BLOWS”) and a tag team from Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell Williams (“JUGGERNAUT”), the show is undoubtedly centered around Sir “Baudelaire” himself. Tyler brings the heat up until the album’s much welcome 10 minute song-suite interlude “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” which spends the first half resting easy on a G-Funk indebted R&B tune sung by Brent Faiyaz. The song takes a surprising left turn into the dub/dancehall on it’s second half that proves that while Tyler is taking things relatively easy this time around, his constant search for influences and inspiration is never waning.
Perhaps the album’s most jaw-dropping moment is the 8 and a half minute narrative “WILLSHIRE.” In a non-stop virtuoso display of flow, Tyler again revisits his feelings of unrequited love depicting a time when his actions got the best of him as he chased a love interest who was out of bounds to him. The object of his affection is with someone else which is frustrating to Tyler as he, with his platform, has been able to conquer any romantic conquest he sets his eyes on. “I could fuck a trillion bitches every country I done been in,” he declares, “Men or women, it don’t matter, if I seen ’em, then I had ’em.”
Once he sees his actions are causing distress in this person’s life, he can realize that there are indeed consequences to smashing the cookie jar on the floor to get a quick snack. “All the morals and power you have is vanished when a certain energy is nearin’,” he confesses on the track, adding. “And those feelings got so much gravity and it’s out of your control it made me realize adults don’t know what they doin’ either. We’re all just children”
But perhaps the most revealing moment on the track and the entire album is the song’s final verse, where Tyler fully comes to terms with how keeping his sexuality and emotional side compartmentalized from his art for so long has caused him to act out in ways he wished he never had:
And I’m mad private with this side of my life ’cause people are weirdos,
and I just try to keep anyone I care about in the shadows.
Safe from the commentary and spotlight and thoughts
‘Cause it’s just a story for the people outside of it
But I guess you’re just another chapter in a book
With Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler pulls doesn’t dazzle you with the spectacle of sawing a woman in half. He casts you under his spell with his mastery of sleight of hand. We’re a long way from Yonkers.
Prerequisites: Tyler, The Creator’s Wolf and IGOR
Essentials: “Corso,” “Juggernaut” and “WILLSHIRE”