The work of collective Odd Future has a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with its audience. While Tyler has received his fair share of criticism and attention for his profane shock and horror lyrics and homophobia, the Odd Future sound isn’t really intended for anyone seeking an intelligent or even coherent thought. It’s most likely for high school kids getting high. Enter Tyler’s third LP, Wolf.
Produced almost entirely by the 22-year-old Tyler, Wolf has a muddled quality. It’s slower than it should be, lacking in momentum from one track to the next. Most tracks are downbeat and laid back. You won’t find any club bangers here, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The interesting thing that emerges, though, is that amid his desire to offend and juvenile humor, there lies the personality of a shy, young kid riding around with his friend on the handlebars of his bicycle (“Slater”).
On “Answer,” he levies a flurry of slurs at his neglectful father, only to hope that he answers his call. With “Rusty,” he says for all the talk of his violent persona, he’s really just a harmless “drama club kid.”
Tyler shows more of his soft side on “IFHY” featuring Pharrell, rambling on about a crush: “Cellular convos getting left in the wrong/Cause I get so fucking mad when you don’t write back/This isn’t a song I just happen to rhyme when I get emo/And find time to write facts, fuck, I love you.”
There are even heartwrenching references to his deceased grandmother throughout the album. It’s just that they’re hard to pick out amongst all the hate and anger that seems to spew out in the front and background of the record. Having recently reviewed Tyga’s Hotel California album, it’s interesting to compare the similarities of these two artists in their early 20s, who couldn’t be more different, yet share an angry, depressive attitude towards life that hides their more interesting vulnerabilities. Who are they lashing out against? What are they so mad about?
For music from the such young rappers, you might expect some fun. But it’s all shrouded in this dark, often drug-fueled haze. Still, there’s something happening behind all the bluster. There’s creativity in Tyler’s production work on Wolf and occasional nuggets of cleverness in his lyrics. It’s just hard to drown out all the inside jokes and outmoded homophobic slurs. You can comb through the mess in search of the talent, but it’s too easy to just turn off.
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