Tyler, the Creator- Scum Fuck Flower Boy
You can listen to the LP here
Back in 2007, Tyler, the Creator started the music collective known as Odd Future with Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean, among others; underground rap and R&B stars that are now much-beloved by their communities. Since then, the collective has released a few compilations and Tyler himself has a few releases under his own name, starting with the 2009 mixtape, Bastard. Two years later, Tyler released his debut LP Goblin, where he made a name for himself thanks to some absurdly offensive lyrics. Historically, hip-hop can get pretty grotesque lyrically, but I am talking about a man who literally rapped the lyric “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome.” This is someone who truly doesn’t give a fuck who he offends, which certainly brought him a long way with some. However, there were also those, I among them, who saw these lyrics as very tryhard. When Goblin came out, I was just getting seriously into hip-hop, listening to more “classic” artists like Nas and N.W.A., but had room for more modern artists such as Cage and Danny Brown. When I heard about Goblin, I was really stoked. It seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, it turned me off, and I ignored the follow-up album Wolf. I wanted nothing to do with Tyler’s music,because I saw it as bait for controversy and nothing more.
In 2015, Tyler dropped Cherry Bomb out of the blue, and on my first listen, I enjoyed it. However, a few more listens in, I realized that he was just ripping off Death Grips and did not care to hear more. Live videos of these tracks are pretty entertaining, but the content itself is just not very satisfying. I thought this was where I was going to hop off the Tyler train forever, but in spite of myself, I was interested in this LP. Virtually every hip-hop music outlet has zeroed in on the fact that Tyler seems to be using this album to come out of the closet.. I never really dived deeper than the headlines of these articles, but there have been hints of Tyler’s sexuality for some time now. I decided to give the man one more chance. After all, who could pass up an album title as good as Scum Fuck Flower Boy?
Right off the bat, I need to mention how much I love the production on this LP. “Foreward” opens up with a minimalist beat and a bit of guitar. It’s super chilled out, which is a good way to describe most of the production on this LP. It’s a surprise from someone like Tyler. This idea continues on “When the Flower Blooms” and “Garden Shed.” There are some songs where the beat absolutely bangs, such as “I Ain’t Got Time” and lead single “Who Dat Boy,” which starts off with an eerie intro before breaking into a bass-driven beat that could get anyone hyped as fuck. It sounds like the best track left off of Cherry Bomb--hell, the track even references the previous album.
I would have never expected Tyler to take his lyricism as seriously as he does on Flower Boy in my life. This is the man who would rap anything to get a rise out of people. There are still some questionable lines, such as “I never had a dog, so I've never been good with bitches” on “911/Mr. Lonely,” but even that is preceded by one of my favorite lyrics on the entire LP: “There's more fish in the sea, but I never had a goldfish to begin with.” The first time I heard this lyric, I was so moved that I didn’t even notice the mediocrity of the following lyric. Generally, the album conveys a mood of isolation. We see repetition of lyrics from this track on “Glitter,” specifically the line “Mirror mirror on the wall,” followed by either “the loneliest of them all” (as on “911/Mr. Lonely”) or “the brightest of them all” (as on “Glitter”).
Of course, it’d be hard to discuss the lyrics without addressing their biggest theme. On some tracks, it’s obvious that Tyler is coming out. On “I Ain’t Got Time!” he literally raps “I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004”. There are also songs like “Garden Shed”, which talk about the topic, and then are referenced later on “November,” when Tyler discusses his fears that people may drop him after realizing he’s gay. “Where This Flower Blooms” sees Tyler encouraging people to be who they are. It’s incredible to think that this is all written by the same edgelord that wrote Goblin. I truly applaud him.
Tyler’s rapping has improved alongside his lyrics. His flow is even more technical and varied, although he doesn’t rap nearly as often as he does on other albums. In an interview, Tyler has stated that he wanted to sing more, which is why he “kept his verses short.” This makes room for in many, many vocalists to carry these duties, such as Odd Future’s own Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, Anna of the North, and Tyler himself. All of these parts work well, especially because of the more relaxed production. Of course, we have some rap guests also, such as A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne. The A$AP Rocky sections on “Who Dat Boy” are pretty sick, but I am really not a fan of Lil Wayne’s interlude on this LP. It’s far from the worst thing both Tyler and Wayne have done, but it also just really doesn’t add much to the LP, especially so close to the end.
Flower Boy closes with a sweet instrumental piece entitled “Enjoy Right Now, Today.” While I wouldn’t really listen to this track outside of the context of the LP, I think it’s a really nice way for Tyler to wrap up what is truly a masterful LP. It summarizes everything Tyler meant to do and say with the album: be happy with yourself despite what others may think of you. Love every day that you live, despite knowing how lonely and scary life can get. This is the sort of LP we needed, especially given the bleak political climate of the current year. It’s an LP that, despite a certain social agenda, steers clears of political talk and focuses on the individual.
After eight years, Tyler has finally won me over. Scum Fuck Flower Boy is absolutely beautiful in its presentation, and I am really happy that Tyler took a moment away from his usual controversial persona to take himself a little more seriously. This is a project I would suggest to anyone who really wants to dive into some really good hip-hop. I went into this thing as someone who HATED Tyler’s music, and I came out in love.
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