Tyler the Creator. We’re talking about a guy that ate a cockroach to get famous. A dude that drops the “F-bomb” frequent and willingly to show his obvious hate for people and the world itself (Haley Williams/Bruno Mars/B.O.B/Republicans). He throws carnivals and likes pink doughnuts. Mentions rape and masturbation in verse. All because it is fun for him to swear and act like a kid. HE TWEETS IN ALL CAPS ABOUT MAKING SANDWICHES. His Instagram name is felciathegoat. He hates the radio and ratings that see him as being a failure. Better run MTV.
Tyler leads Odd Future, a random assortment of crew members (Domo Genesis, Hodgy Beats, Earl Sweatshirt, Taco etc) that have a destructive demeanor, but yet a colorful vocabulary in their aggressive rhymes and beats that make for an uncomfortable listen to a normal person. Such as this…
I’m a f*cking walking paradox, no I’m not
Threesomes with a f*cking triceratops, Reptar
Rapping as I’m mocking deaf rock stars
Somewhere between talent and psychotic. Clever with word play for sure, but the imagery goes a little too far. But yo, that is Tyler and he doesn’t care what you think about him. He knows he is different and that’s just how he has fun. YDG?
He is a rebel and hearing his different outlook on life is exciting to witness as a listener and especially as a fan that enjoys his creativity and production capabilities.
Just like how a viewer sympathizes for a gangster in a movie, we can do the same for Tyler who in essence has the same desires that we have in life. Whether it be getting to know and be with a girl that seems impossible to move in on, to being stable in his own mind because a lot of people out their battle depression and anxiety.
Tyler’s latest album “Wolf” is one of my favorite concept albums in recent years mostly for the fact that every song can stand alone. Through all the schemes, as a viewer I feel so attached to the story and the alter-egos that Tyler represents showing his true feelings and emotions on touchy subjects matters such as the absence of his dad in his life, or cancer “that ate his Grammy up”. It’s a part of a greater story and getting lost in Tyler’s references and messed up mindset is well worth the journey. It can get confusing even after two years of listening, so let’s get funky with it.
I. Wolf starts off introducing us to two main characters that are a part of Tyler’s self-conscience. Samuel, a member of Camp Flognaw kicks off the album singing “F*ck you” to everything and everyone over a piano based angelic tune. Professor TC, the camp director, applauds Samuel for his performance and introduces him to Wolf who is a new member of the camp. The camp serves as an escape to the outdoors (which Tyler actually appreciates in real life) for each character as they suffer from mental problems and social issues. Samuel disregards Wolf’s conversation about Jazz music and just like the song in the beginning of the album says he does not mess with him and wants him to stay out of his way. The album continually switches perspectives between Wolf and Samuel.
II. “Cowboy” shows the the lonely side of Samuel flirting with the imagery of shadows and smoking at the dock to portray somebody that is on their own quest and no matter how much it seems they have, they still believe it isn’t enough to make them whole mostly because of self-awareness and lack of belonging. This shows the side of Tyler that speaks to his line “I’m as lonely as the crackers that super models eats.” The story sparks Wolf to ask Samuel about a girl that passed by. Samuel angrily responds that it is Salem, his girlfriend and to stay away from her.
Wolf ignores his threats and pursues his girlfriend in “Awkward” as it was his first official date. This track which shows a side of Wolf who lacks confidence and is insecure in his abilities to talk to Salem, who has him going crazy in his head. Her name is his password. His feelings are locked up in a zip lock bag and he is claustrophobic in his attempts trying to find the courage to break open the seal and make his relationship with her normal. They still hold no title after the date and it causes Wolf to search more desperately in his internal struggle. The track hints at young love and how everything is awkward at first when it comes to liking each other. Also, how we get caught up in feelings for girls so easily and fall so hard because we never tasted the actual physical presence of love before.
Samuel continues his cowboy thrill ride on his bicycle “Slater” without his girlfriend which I think this illusion is created in his mind. The story is told through the success of Tyler the Creator which is the opposite of what Samuel has, nothing. Tyler lives a life of a star “kickin it in the burbs” and going crazy at shows because he holds a title. This is a false perception that Samuel has of himself as his conscience gets hazy. Frank Ocean says to Samuel “I guess you’re a cool guy, you’re talking to a f*cking bike, loser.” Samuel must have tried to persuade him about the lavish lifestyle he lives, but in the end he was talking to an object that wasn’t living.
This all leads to “48” which portrays Samuel as a drug dealer selling crack and deepening his wounds and his life in general. The Nas interview talks about how crack messed up the streets, the individuals that took the drugs and the sellers. Samuel gets caught up in this lifestyle because he has nothing and ends up doing more damage to himself and the people he sells to. He supports his family, but in reality he is lost at sea and “nobody wins” as Nas says when it is all said and done. His conscience is fading away and he hates it because he knows what’s right, but he has to survive somehow. Also, this song pokes at the struggles in the black community of drug trading in less privileged communities because it isn’t fair how they ended up because of racial inequality, but somehow they had to get by.
A breath of fresh air at night in the great outdoors. Wolf comes out of his shell and approaches Salem with a new acceptance of how different he is compared to everyone else. For this reason, she should take a chance with him. He’s excited to be at camp and embraces his struggles in “Campfire” with a new outlook on life and appreciation the little things like marshmallows, chocolate and just being outside. An upbeat transition to “Bimmer” reveals Wolf and his new found life of sex. The awesome car is a metaphor for how special Salem is to her. Bimmers are amazing looking cars inside and out. “The perfect two seater”. Tyler is so exuberant in his word play with sex and the different parts of the car comparing the ignition and the key to the act as well as the drive of the car in motion to Salem and Wolf’s sex drive.
III. Tensions start flaring after the three part song. In the next skit, a fellow camper and drug user tells Samuel that Wolf has been seeing Salem and they went to the lake. Samuel is furious not only because he told Wolf to stay out of his way, but his only love is with somebody else (as demonstrated in IFHY)
What a perfect song. Not only the various instruments and beats, but the conception that Samuel is stuck in the middle of love and hate. He is pissed because Salem left him for Wolf. Salem is an addiction for Sam and she has more highs and lows for him compared to the drugs he substitutes in place of her.
Cause when I hear your name I can not stop cheesing
I love you so much that my heart stops beating when you’re leaving
And I’m grieving and my heart starts bleeding
Life without you has no god damn meaning
Sorry I’m passive aggressive for no god damn reason
It’s that my mood change like these god damn seasons
I’ll fall for you, but I love you
Tyler is so back and forth with his word play and those thoughts that stream in his head are thrown in our face. We can all say that we were a victim of somebody that mentally messed with our brain all because of the game of love. We love that person because we think they’re beautiful, but they moved on from us and we hate them. We get trapped in this mind game where we would do anything to have them back and like Tyler said without that special person life isn’t worth living anymore.
After IFHY, Salem tells Wolf that Sam is “actually a dweeb” and he is messed up from not having a dad “Answer” and getting bullied back home “Pigs”.
Answer, my favorite track on the album, goes into Tyler’s real life depression of not having a father in life through Sam’s perspective. He hates his dad for not being there for him and blames him for the facial hair he has and for beginning his career that propelled his music of dark emotions and hate for everybody. In essence, if he called him, Tyler hopes he could talk to him and receive an explanation as to where he was all of Tyler’s life. I feel it’s a part that would make Tyler whole since his father was missing his whole life. The song feels like he is floating on a bubble in a dreamy colorful location reminiscing and thinking of what could have been.
“Pigs” begins the rampage of Samuel who is coming after all the bullies in the world as well as anyone that gets in his way, in particular Wolf for stealing Salem. It’s weird because we come back to the theme of Tyler contradicting his thoughts saying he wants to kill everybody like a mass murderer (pumping like his inhaler) ,but at the same time he’s a kid that wants peace (wouldn’t hurt a fly. or even join an army) and just wants to be left alone.
The skit after “Parking Lot” reveals Wolf becoming aware that Samuel wants to kill him. He lashes back and says “not if I get to him first”.
Samuel gets to Earl after Wolf recruits him and Domo and kills him at the end of his verse that contemplates suicide in “Rusty”.
“Trashwang” is war. From the screaming and bombing at the beginning, the viewer can tell it’s about to go down. This is where Sam and Wolf’s crews go after it. Wolf’s crew is flaunting the whole time.They have so much fun throwing parties with ferris wheels and being absolutely vulgar promising Sam’s crew they can’t be messed with. They have tanks and goons with aim.
Don’t let the skateboards fool you,
Know n*ggas that pull triggers
“Tamale” is definitely the weirdest song I’ve ever listened to and masturbation and sexual acts are used throughout the song. This surprisingly is apart of the story as Wolf gets sent to TC for getting caught in the act at camp. The background Tamale voice is the most annoying cartoon creature voice. It’s such a Tyler song and if any other artist produced the song, it wouldn’t work at all.
V. The album ends with “Lone”. Lone Wolf. Get it? The last and first song in all of his albums correspond. TC takes the role as a therapist asking Wolf why he’s been getting in such mischief with fights and unnecessary foolishness. Wolf is lonely with all the stardom and wants to quit , but can’t. He has responsibility now and the money helps him have the excitement and go to different places to reek havoc. “Life is paying for thrills.” The last half of the first verse talk about Tyler using the challenges and the tough times he’s been through paint a picture for all to see. He uses music as a creative outlet to get his pain off his chest and a lot of listeners like myself can relate to a certain extent.
“A year ago I was broke, now how can I afford this
I started off with disposables now I have an assortment
And I’m using these negatives to develop a portrait
Now the frame is a pain in the ass to get it in
Without a scratch or stain on the glass
But that’s not important, just as long as it’s printed”
Tyler has more pressure to support his family and friends ,but in the end he is still the same outgoing kid. Not everything and everybody is going to accept you for the changes you make, but deep down you know you still fit the frame. Some things just got left out. Tyler can stay sane getting these thoughts down.
Even sadder in this song Tyler talks about the time when his grandmother passes away. It’s different for Tyler to actually care about something and I think death does that to us, it changes us in the strangest way. The fact that he had just saw her last week and that she is gone now is awkward to him. He doesn’t know how to deal with this situation because he never dealt with death before so he is stuck in his emotions, trying to adjust his seat to find the right way to feel. At the hospital where his grandmother is, he can’t even look when he talks because it’s awkward to him. She was weak and there was nothing he can do about it. She died that night. The dreary chords work perfectly in this song and piano playing in the background go along with the storytelling of Wolf’s pain.
We end our roller coaster ride with TC sympathizing for Wolf saying his story was deep. TC also says to Wolf that Sam was looking for him. Wolf responds back angrily saying he hates him and if he saw him he would have killed him.
What can we take from this story? A lot actually, but i think the loneliness aspect is the most important. Throughout the story the protagonists are going through a struggle to find themselves and cope with tragedy.
Sam goes crazy because he is so alone and loses his girlfriend. He moves toward drugs and revenge to satisfy the part in himself that was missing.
As for Wolf, he starts off new at the camp alone searching for new adventures and a way to calm down the demons that float within him. Towards the middle of the album he is content and his in a relationship with Slater and the fame and fortune seem to be going his way. At the end of the album he feels so alone and it doesn’t matter who he has to back him up in his feud with Sam. He is going to be lonely because he can’t find the happiness deep in himself and he has more responsibility now. He doesn’t feel worth it and doesn’t think he can amount to much floating in his thoughts and feeling bad for himself.
The Lone Wolf (as the album suggests by way of track-listing) shows us the journeys these guys have to take to show the different sides of Tyler’s mind. Tyler is the lone wolf. I think the softer side of Tyler wants us to understand that everybody will go through a tough time and feel like they are not meant to exist.
The back and forth thoughts in our head make us question what is right, or wrong, but we keep on pushing on in hope to be whole and apart of a bigger something. Maybe that’s over analyzing because I think Tyler wanted to mostly entertain his audience with great production and show off his growth as an artist, but digging deeper shows his true story.