Over the past eight years, Tyler, the Creator, has slowly evolved into one of rap’s most respected artists. With the release of his fourth studio album this July, Scum Fuck, Flower Boy, the public has been introduced to a more mature, serious Tyler. ‘Flower Boy’ has seemingly received a unanimous positive review from fans and critics, developing into Tyler’s most complete, well-produced album to date and arguably rap’s best album of 2017.
The California rapper now has five full-length projects under his belt – Bastard (2009), Goblin (2011), Wolf (2013), Cherry Bomb (2015) and Flower Boy. Two of the four – his first mixtape Bastard along with Wolf – are seen by most as impressive projects, while Cherry Bomb and Goblin are much more controversial and have generally received less-positive reviews. Regardless, Tyler has a huge body of work to his name, so following the release of Flower Boy, it’s a perfect time to take a look at his career so far with his 10-best all-time tracks.
Album – Goblin
No doubt Tyler’s most iconic track. ‘Yonkers’ doesn’t get the respect for its thought-provoking, meaningful and often hilarious lyricism. This single from Tyler’s debut album Goblin is really what made Tyler and Odd Future a worldwide commodity.
The choppy, hard-hitting yet slow beat is a match made in heaven with Tyler’s conversational-like flow and preposterous attitude and lyrics throughout the track. ‘Yonkers’, as explained by Tyler himself, is a “conversation between himself and his white, evil, swagged-out alter ego, Wolf Haley,” (genius.com).
This may be one of my favorite verses in rap since 2010 (verse 2 on ‘Yonkers’).
Album – WOLF
One of the deepest tracks a rap artist has released in the past several years. ‘Answer’ is simply three minutes of Tyler spewing hatred at his father (and also an unnamed girl), in a ruthless, unfiltered manner. Both of his first two verses are absolutely merciless, but what a way to begin the song:
“Hey Dad, it’s me, um… Oh, I’m Tyler, I think I’d be your son. Sorry, I called you the wrong name, see, my brain’s splitting. “Dad” isn’t your name, see “Faggot’s” a little more fitting.”
Where Tyler really opens up and shows his vulnerability is in the chorus, where he admits to still wanting to hear his dad’s voice:
“Yeah, I hope you answer. Because when I call (When I call, baby), I hope you pick up your phone (Please pick up). I’d like to talk to you.”
Such a deep track with perfect, gentle production that allows Tyler to tell his story without interruption.
Album – Bastard (Mixtape)
Pretty remarkable that a 17-year-old was able to produce a track this good. The lead track off Tyler’s first-ever project, Bastard, it’s remarkable how attention-grabbing each of the nine verses on the single, ‘Bastard’, are.
Several times, Tyler references suicidal thoughts and even actions, often due to his father’s absence in his life. “I’m suicidal”, “my wrist is red from the cutter”, “I know you fucking feel me, I want to fucking kill me.”
Tyler more than opens up on, ‘Bastard’, he is brutally honest in a way that not many teenagers are able to.
What makes Tyler particularly special is how he doesn’t always need a hard, complex or certain type of beat to make a killer track. The production can be so simple, and yet Tyler still knows how to make the track memorable with his lyricism – which is what the main goal of rap should be. As we’ve seen with ‘Flower Boy’, Tyler doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.