Entertainment Music
Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Tyler, the Creator, 'Wolf'

*** (out of four)

When Odd Future first emerged, everything the L.A. hip-hop collective did seemed perfectly engineered to grab attention.

The group's bravado and distorted visual aesthetic excited rap fans looking for change, while its members' shocking lyrics became a lightning rod for controversy. But when the attention came, Odd Future mostly ignored it, doubling down on an underlying conviction in their own talent and unique sensibility. They adopted a punk band and a jazz group as their closest associates, started a sketch comedy TV show and put out a series of inwardly focused albums that, while generally solid, had little effect on the hiphop mainstream.

On ringleader Tyler, the Creator's second proper album, “Wolf,” this insularity is even stronger. There's nothing as immediately arresting as the songs like “Yonkers” and “French” that helped build the rapper's hype to a fever pitch. The guests are limited to a few idols— Erykah Badu, Pharrell, Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier—and frequent Odd Future collaborators. People unfamiliar with the group's lore might need a glossary to understand many of the lyrical references, and even those in the know may have trouble following the album's loose plot and web of characters.

If Tyler's past music reflected confrontational rappers like Eminem, the best analogues here are artists like MF DOOM, Kool Keith and Wu-Tang Clan, who complement dense lyrics with elaborately constructed mythologies. Like those artists, Tyler's tightly written raps reward close attention and total immersion. Highlights like “Answer” and”Lone” are nuanced takes on tough feelings, while tracks like “Rusty” and “Slater” are good, straightforward rap songs. Tyler's jarring, minor-key production has improved too.

Like “Goblin,” Tyler's debut, “Wolf” can drag and feel overly moody. Although the most vulgar elements generally are gone, it probably will do little for fans who aren't already committed to Tyler's schtick. But his well-crafted, self-contained world is something worth celebrating because it delivers on one of Odd Future's central promises that got lost amid that initial flurry of hype: It's committed to its own weirdness—and not just for the attention.

Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Genealogy gold mine: Millions of wills now online

    Genealogy gold mine: Millions of wills now online

    Thousands of amateur genealogists who fantasize about being left a fortune by a distant relative can now get a reality check. Starting Wednesday, upward of 100 million wills written over the last three centuries will be posted to Ancestry.com, the popular genealogical search engine.

  • American recalls French train attack on Jimmy Fallon show

    American recalls French train attack on Jimmy Fallon show

    A California man who was one of three Americans who helped subdue a gunman on a high-speed train traveling to Paris says he couldn't have picked better people to be with that day.

  • Historic Gold Coast rowhouse for $1.375M

    Historic Gold Coast rowhouse for $1.375M

    855 N. Dearborn, Chicago $1,375,000 Listed on May 13, 2015 This historic three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath rowhouse is in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The three-story home has three decks, including a rooftop deck. The home also features hardwood flooring, central air conditioning...

  • Northerly Island Park: Beguiling lakefront landscape justifies Daley raid

    Northerly Island Park: Beguiling lakefront landscape justifies Daley raid

    A dozen years after Mayor Richard M. Daley carried out the infamous “midnight raid” that shut down the small lakefront airport called Meigs Field, the question lingers: Did the end justify the means?

  • 'A Walk in the Woods' is soft and mushy

    'A Walk in the Woods' is soft and mushy

    Because “A Walk in the Woods” quickly wanders from a funny look at life at a crossroads to an obvious series of embarrassing nonsense and basic observations about nature and people, let’s just rattle off some things bumbling around my head during the movie:

  • Chicago beekeepers find mystery, meditation and honey at their hives

    Chicago beekeepers find mystery, meditation and honey at their hives

    You never know what you might find on a Chicago rooftop—a classy lounge, a chill patio, a collection of lawn chairs. But from the Loop to the neighborhoods, there are a few rooftops that are home to a different kind of buzz—the literal buzz of hundreds of thousands of honeybees.

Comments
Loading
81°