Two years removed from his last project, partitioned from the Odd Future label and quite possibly more personal than ever before, Tyler, the Creator’s new album Flower Boy meets fans with a formidable amount to prove, but at $11.99 how does it compare to the three heart racing cups of venti fresh brews one could get from their local Starbucks for a similar price?
One hot cup of blonde roast sells the ‘I’m an adult’ image we have all secretly been trying to pass on through nonchalant swigs taken purposely through crowded streets. And two servings could just as well relay to all those other caffeine aficionados that a mere twenty ounces will not suffice the lifestyle of the superior in their presence. But three cups on a small budget sends a nuanced statement. Twelve dollars deep and three fresh brews richer, one becomes an enigma.
It’s not only a serious commitment to modern style, but a defiant display against the standards held against you, which thematically bring us back to Tyler, the Creator’s fifth studio project. Notably more R&B influenced from track to track and less satirical than the manic Tyler we have come to know throughout the years, Flower Boy is as much a return to the right track as it is a journey down exciting new roads. His discography is not without its black marks, but starting off this album with smooth mixing and lyrical variety like he does in opening tracks such as “Where This Flower Blooms” and “See You Again” feels just as consolidating as discovering that perfect hazelnut panache to make the third cup of joe go down easier.
That third cup. That’s the one everyone is always concerned about. How much can the heart take, how much damage will this cause in the next trip to the porcelain throne, and was it even worth it in the first place? After a while, too much of anything wears down the initial value and Tyler, the Creator, being acutely aware of this conundrum, opted to treat this project like an open book to previously hidden aspects of his life to add intrigue to familiarity. With featured talents like Lil Wayne and A$AP Rocky the depth of his rapping diversity shines more than ever. His personal interests are exfoliated under new spotlights in beautifully emotional tracks like “Garden Shed” (feat. Estelle). And Tyler’s usual angst has matured into effortlessly relatable pride in this mess of adulthood we all find ourselves in.
Tyler incorporates two near-venti worthy bangers (“Who Dat Boy”, “I Ain’t Got Time!”) in this otherwise jazzy hip-hop collection. Which should be just enough to keep the ebb and flow of all fourteen tracks interesting enough for the variety of listening crowds he has accrued throughout his career. Although, Flower Boy does suffer a slight deficiency in the raw ferocity levels that made this artist so distinct back when Odd Future was a gang of competing talent. But that lack sums up to a minutiae at most. All fourteen tracks offer consistent quality, with both the cost and benefit of Tyler workshopping familiar samples and chorus structures we have seen reoccurring since 2013’s Wolf. Which is not to say his production here is tired or even lazy, but this does make the listening experience feel like more of a fine tuning rather than a thorough redefining of the craft.
Overall, offering two of the most crisp bass-thumping tracks Tyler has given listeners so far, eight smooth trips into the recessed corners of his fascinating mind, and the most graceful finale he may ever produce, this album says a lot about where he sees himself as an artist today. Tyler, the Creator is the enigma. He is perfecting a very personal endeavor and his habits benefit him like a barista austere in the use of almond milk over all those other ‘fake milks.’ The third additional light-roast that Starbuck’s two-tailed mermaid always offers those at a lack of stature in this modern caffeine society drives a hard bargain. She sells an identity one could thrive under while traveling through large crowds and taking ample sips of their blonde roast, but I believe Flower Boy offers something more genuine. And it is simultaneously more energizing than even three full cups of coffee because of the genuine effort that gave this album life. Whatever amount of money is left after the essentials of tuition, books, and parties go a long way picking up a copy of this quality work, no matter how much coffee is on the line.