“IGOR” is Tyler the Creator’s fifth studio album under Columbia Records. This new album concludes a thematic and musical transition for the LA-based Rapper.
The LP is a follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2017 project Flower Boy. 2017 marked the beginning of Tyler moving away from his controversial roots. IGOR in some ways is a companion piece to Flower Boy. If Flower Boy was Tyler learning how to love and accept himself, IGOR is him learning how to love and accept other people. Each track serves as a diary entry documenting the MC’s mental state as he goes through the good and bad that comes with being in love.
The album is split into 3 sections. The beginning is Tyler falling in love with someone whose identity is never revealed. The middle is the relationship and the aftermath of its ending. The last section of the album is Tyler learning to move on.
At the beginning of the album our main character is beginning to fall in love with someone. He’s become so infatuated with them it’s as if that their relationship can be compared to Jim Henson and the Muppets. An allusion to ‘‘Puppet’’ that comes later on in the album. “Earfquake” had a brief Playboi Carti verse that meshed well with the vibe of the track, despite being a surprise.
Soul Legend Charlie Wilson was the highlight of the track, as his vocal performance saved it from Tyler awkwardly crooning away. As the album progresses, Tyler becomes head-over heels in love with this person. He thinks “it’s for real.” However, he’s also doubting the relationship, as the person’s been acting distant towards him. The hook is an ear worm reminiscent of El DeBarge for its drum patterns and fluttering keys. The interlude that previews the next song illustrates that while Tyler has his doubts, he’s all in for the relationship.
When Tyler realizes that his partner might go back to their ex-girlfriend, he becomes very jealous. In this part of the album, we see the most overt allusions to Tyler’s sexuality. In the second verse of “Running Out of Time,” Tyler is urging his lover to “take [his] mask off.”
Given what we know from Tyler’s last album and old social media posts, the person unnamed wants to keep his sexuality a secret; to avoid the prevalent social stigmas associated with being gay. A love triangle has eventually formed between the three. Tyler has grown more envious and says he has the “magic wand” to get “her out of the picture.” The person’s indecisiveness has destroyed the relationship.
In ‘‘A Boy Is A Gun,’’ the MC attempts to convince the person unnamed to not leave him. The sample is very reminiscent of Kanye during his College-Dropout era. Interestingly enough this is the same sample Kanye used for “Bound 2,” with Tyler producing “Bound 1” that eventually didn’t make the “Yeezus” album. “What’s Good” starts with Tyler giving his best rap performance on the album by far.
The xylophone and guitar combo on this track give vibes from mid-2000’s N.E.R.D. In the first verse he drops a witty reference to former NBA player Sam Bowie, which is surprising, since Tyler expressed publicly that he’s not a sports fan. For much of his career Tyler has always had solid lyricism, and this time, the release is not any different. It’s a nice reprieve from the album’s melodramatic tone. It’s also a nice reminder that our boy can still spit at a moment’s notice.
The last quarter of the album Tyler and the lover have broken off for good. On “Gone, Gone/Thank You,” Tyler is being introspective, and at this point his “love’s gone” is punctuated by Cee-Lo Green’s shrill voice. In Tyler’s eyes, his ex-lover’s unwillingness to be honest with him, despite previously showing signs of being interested in him, killed the relationship.
While our main character in the story says he’s moved on, there’s an air of pettiness expressed in the song. In Tyler’s, he makes it clear that the woman his love left him for “can’t compete” with him. In “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” our main character has become apathetic towards the whole situation. He continually reiterates that he has lost affection for this person. He sarcastically tells his crush that he’s “too cool” for Tyler and sees that he’s not worth stressing out over.
“Are We Still Friends?” is the track that closes out the album. We see our main character’s emotional state slightly crack, as he truly can’t say goodbye to someone he’s invested so much into emotionally. The song heavily features an Al Green sample that appears all throughout the cut. Tyler doesn’t want to cut this person from his life completely, even if that person won’t respond to him romantically.
IGOR is a rap album in name only. In truth it’s an alternative R&B album with rap verses sprinkled here and there. This project has solid guest appearances, great instrumentation, and a lot of catchy hooks. Tyler still employed his signature synths, which add to the overall aesthetic. The amount of singing Tyler did was a bit excessive and below average. Then again, many of his features picked up much of his slack. Jerrod Carmichael’s spoken-word poems in-between songs were a nice detail, doubling as Tyler’s conscience throughout the story. In ‘‘IGOR’’ we see Tyler achieve a great deal of emotional maturity. This is a hallmark moment for one of the most controversial figures of our generation.