By Mack White
The trinity is finally complete. Tyler, the Creator was a newbie on the rap scene four years ago, but grew to overnight success with the free release of his debut album Bastard. Two years later, Goblin is released to prove that Tyler and his Odd Future collective are worth the hype they receive. So that asks the question of what purpose does Wolf serve in the trilogy?
Wolf is a step up from Tyler’s previous release lyrically and production-wise. Opening songs such as “Jamba” and “Cowboy” take the listener into Tyler’s mind. You would think a person as well-respected as him in the music community are happy, but fame is the last thing on his mind. Still curious about the whereabouts of his father, Tyler breaks down and wonders how different his life would be if he had both parents in his life when he was young.
The album definitely has low points, such as “Colossus / The Bridge of Love”, which reflects on a time when Tyler was a theme park and an excited fan tried to ask him for a picture. Tyler paints himself as some sort of god in this song where fans don’t realize how important he is. I can see where he’s coming from, but I think Tyler should remember that his fans got him there in the first place. The song seems like a weak attempt at recreating himself as an Eminem lyricist, but falls off early in the first stanza.
Another part I was disappointed about was how they decided to discontinue the therapist aspect of his albums. It is rumored that Wolf is actually a prequel to Bastard and Tyler’s therapist is the camp counselor featured in the title track among others. The therapist added a somewhat sinister element to the album, showing how even the people who try to help Tyler feel happy are being consumed by his negative persona.
I had the opportunity to see Tyler and several other Odd Future members in concert last month at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill and the songs from Wolf sounded much stronger live than his previous material. The horn sections in the song “Domo23” are incredibly catchy, and when rhythm sections like that collide with Tyler’s wit and fast-paced rapping the product is always amusing.
Wolf is worth a listen no matter how many of the previous Odd Future releases you’ve listened to. Tyler is one of the last effective hip-hop storytellers, and his latest release takes you into a corner that only he knew for so long. While incredibly depressing at most times, it does make me happy that he decided to open up and share it.