Wolf, Tyler, the Creator's third solo album, offers a glimpse of what goes on in his head. It's all over the place but somehow remains cohesive, artistic and meaningful, and is a step in the right direction for the twenty-two year old.
Tyler, the Creator's previous two solo projects were critically-acclaimed pieces of work. The success of Bastard and Goblin allowed him to garner the crazed fan base that follow his every move, but with Wolf, the Los Angeles native has moved on to something new. Instead of the usual six-minute intro track where he discusses his angst-filled life with his shrink and alter-ego, Dr. TC, Tyler begins the album with Dr. TC introducing the characters Sam and Wolf. The latter instantly has beef with the former, which is the start of a recurring theme throughout the album that not only adds to its strength but allows Wolf to have a spine that Tyler can float away from.
If Wolf is any indication, Tyler and his Odd Future cohorts seem to be maturing. Themes of rape, necrophilia and general vulgarity aren't found in the lyrics; instead, Tyler seems to be addressing the trappings of loneliness, fame, and love. Though he does still find his sense of humour on tracks like "Domo23", "Jamba", "Slater" and "Tamale," he really hit a chord on the tracks where he uses the personalities he's created to address problems within himself and society. He uses Sam to depict the crack epidemic on "48" with help from the legendary Nas, and on on "IFHY," he reflects on heartbreak with help from Pharrell. He uses Sam again on "Pigs" to show the effects bullying can have on teens.
Throughout the album, the lyrics are more in depth than his previous work, which is perfectly portrayed on "Collussus," his own version of "Stan" where he talks about his crazed fans and the fact that he can't seem to do normal stuff anymore, like hit up amusement parks. The haphazardly layout of the album is crucial in its cohesiveness as he juxtaposes mature themes and lyrics dealing with societal issues on one track but the next will be his own problems, like "Answer" where he spits fire about all the problems to do with his father that abandoned him. Instead of spreading the hate he has for him around the album, he focuses it on that one track, allowing it to carry more venom than his previous father-filled angst tracks.
The standout feature from Wolf has to be the lack of rape or sexually-charged songs as Tyler gets more honest with the fairer sex on tracks like "Awkward", where he talks about a girl he hooked up with back in the day, and "TreeHome95", which not only carries arguably the best production on the album but shows a softer side of Tyler with Salem and Sam hooking up in a treehouse, a fact only alluded to with no real confirmation. Wolf closes out with Tyler stating how lonely he is, especially since his grandmother recently passed away. Despite the amount of fans he has, his fellow Odd Future members constantly around him, Tyler states that he truly feels alone and feels like quitting.
Despite all the growth in the lyrics, the maturity in the themes on Wolf, the lack of anger and hate, it's the production on each and every track that stands out significantly compared to his previous work. From the chords on "Bimmer" to the jazz riffs on "Parking Lot" to the amalgamation of every single instrument on "TreeHome95", Tyler's production on Wolf is simply outstanding. Even the supposedly weaker, joke tracks like "Slater" or "TrashWang" or "Domo23" have beats that other artists wish they could create.
Wolf is a significant step in the right direction for not just Tyler, the Creator but for all of Odd Future with its lyrical content and big-name features, the addressing of societal issues like bullying, papparizi and stardom, to loneliness and abandonment. Wolf portrays a side of Tyler after he's achieved all the fame and success he's craved since he was young, it's a side of him that he honestly seems afraid of, a factor of why he tends to create multiple personalities to deal with his problems. Wolf is a phenomenal representation of a creative genius bursting with artistic talent but struggling to cope with the fame he's achieved with it. With the production on the album the surest sign yet of Tyler's growth, time will only tell if he follows in idol Pharrell's footsteps and starts producing more than rapping - a facet of his talent that listeners will miss as Tyler, the Creator seems to speak for an entire generation of not just outcasts but frustrated youth.
Peep all the lyrics for the album on GotBars.