Album Review: Tyler, The Creator – “Cherry Bomb”

Along with the release of a new “Golf Wang” app, Tyler, The Creator released his new album “Cherry Bomb” on Monday. Far different from previous releases in “Bastard”, “Goblin” and “Wolf”, which are part of an overarching story-arc mixed with Tyler’s own narrative, “Cherry Bomb” focuses on Tyler’s thoughts on fame and on other personal topics.

 The album’s titular track features Tyler purposefully lowering the sound of his voice over a Death Grips-like beat, with amplified drums, loud synth and booming bass dominating the track. Songs like “PILOT,” showcase his distorted voice vulnerably telling his audiences “I’m in first class, but I feel like coach.” Along with these songs are pieces like “FIND YOUR WINGS,” which showcase the soothing voices of him and fellow artist Kali Uchis. This track even opens up with a minute-long jazzy introduction. Add in several lyrical references to the Lion King and free-form flows, these are just some examples of how “Cherry Bomb” showcases Tyler’s versatility as a storyteller, musician and artist.

Though it’s refreshing to see Tyler refrain from the immature shock value of rapping about rape-fantasies and disturbing violence, he still uses homophobic slurs as a way of addressing his critics. Songs like “RUN” and “BLOW MY LOAD” are self-evident in their message and are reticent of his earlier material, which are known for their ridiculously explicit lyrics – even if it is for the sake of satire. While some of his more experienced fans may like the songs, it’s slightly disappointing to see Tyler stubbornly keep his offensive persona.

However, the album’s most poignant and memorable track, “SMUCKERS,” features Tyler at his best: both irreverent and hurting in his rhymes about dealing with the consequences of fame, yet proud of his accomplishments. Along with his verses are lines by hip-hop legend Kanye West like “You can’t lynch Marshawn, if Tom Brady throwing to me,” and a killer appearance by Lil Wayne – whose confidence shines through the track’s multi-rhythmic beats.

Other guest appearances on “Cherry Bomb” are fantastic as well. Pharrell Williams has a solid first verse on the track “KEEP DA O’S” – a polyrhythmic and percussion-dominated confession of Tyler’s hypocrisy in criticizing materialism, but contributing to it. Schoolboy Q’s swagger provides a strong secondary voice in “THE BROWN STAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6-12 (REMIX)” as well.

Is “Cherry Bomb” offensive and hard to listen to for the first time? Probably. But it’s also an especially honest piece of self-introspection. It doesn’t have any songs listeners would readily play at a party or hear on the radio, but its musical complexity and lyrical nuance allows for several listens. Add in some amazing guest features, and listeners have an album that may not be “To Pimp a Butterfly,” but definitely one of, if not Tyler’s finest work and one that his fans will be sure to enjoy.

 9/10

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