In Wolf, Tyler the Creator's follow-up to the wildly odd and successful Goblin, the head Odd Future honcho offers a new album featuring rich instrumentals, a blunt-force flow, strangely self-aware yet juvenile lyrics, and a holistic irreverence that somehow sniffs around the definition of genius.
"Papa ain't call even though he saw me on TV/It's all good"
And there you have it, the first and wholly encapsulating lyric of Wolf. Tyler has daddy issues; that's for sure. They're issues he acknowledges with lyrics like this, but he dresses them up in gritty bravado. His fatherlessness led to his success, however — and that's his idea, not mine.
"Green hat, Vans, golf top is the team uniform"
It's lyricism like this that really makes you appreciate full sentences and actual rhyme schemes. Which is the peculiar thing about Tyler, he barks a fragmented line that sounds like a tweener's Christmas list, yet I keep nodding my head as if I like what I'm hearing.
"Said I was a racist homophobic/So I grabbed Lucas and filmed us kissing"
Now we get into the confusing depth of Wolf. I respect Tyler for kinda-sorta embracing sexuality that falls outside of hip-hop's status quo (see: Frank Ocean). However, he's a tad defensive about it. Like, "C'mon guys, just because most of my lyrics are homophobic slurs doesn't mean I'm homobophic." Oh, OK. Right.
Here, he debunks his racist homophobia by claiming to kiss his white label mate just to prove a point.
"In a black hoodie with a Arizona and a bag of skittles/Just to see what all that [effing] hype is about"
Again, Tyler toys with thoughtfulness. He attempts to go in on a social commentary about the murder of Trayvon Martin. Except, again, Tyler makes it more about Tyler than anyone else.
"We can still dance/But I don't have no rhythm"
Hey, neat. Me neither. I say this like everyone weekend. I sound less cool though.
"My best friend is an inhaler because it will not let me cough"
Tyler's awkward charm kicks in on the track Pigs. Ostensibly, it's a narrative about a troubled kid who is chronically bullied and harboring violent thoughts. Tyler's clunky way of describing said kid's relationship with his asthma is kind of amazing. "It will let me not cough." As a fellow asthmatic, that statement hits home.
"Little homies is reppin' like I been [effing] with Kony"
Tyler definitely created here. Comparing avid fans to child soldiers is, uh, new lyrical territory (as far as I know). Is it witty? Yes. Is it offensive? Maybe. Why do you I ask myself yes-or-no questions in an album review? No.
Honestly, that's Wolf in a nutshell. It's unusual, which is exactly what Tyler the Creator and Odd Future are all about. Being different. Not caring but caring at the same time.
And the musicality follows suit. At times, the beats are minimalistic; at other times, complicated.
Wolf, ultimately, is paradox on wax. Yeah, that's the ticket. I wish I would've thought of that in the intro.