It's been less than a week since Tyler, the Creator released his new album CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, and already music critics are hailing it as a contender for the Album of the Year. It feels like yesterday when IGOR, Tyler's Grammy-winning record from 2019, made the same waves during that summer, too. Tyler's got a penchant for adorning the hot weather with some chill hits.
But if you really know Tyler, you know he's much more than a pastel-clad artist who only shows his face during the warmer months. Between his founding member status in Odd Future, deep involvement in critically-acclaimed albums like Earl Sweatshirt's Earl and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, and taste for fashion through his clothing lines Golf Wang and Golf le Fleur, Tyler's definitely earned the "Creator" part of his stage name. He's constantly making things, and the things he makes are always quality.
When it comes to his musical evolution, Tyler's come a long way. He started as a gravelly rapper unafraid to be crude in his tracks. His recent songs feature more experimental production and smoother vocals - some may say his tracks reflect an air of opulence and luxury. Whichever era of Tyler you're drawn to, there are standout tracks to be found in both his older and newer albums.
To celebrate Tyler's musical journey and success with his recent album, we thought we'd give our top 10 picks for Tyler, the Creator songs. We're also including songs from CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST on this list. Here are our faves!
10. "See You Again (feat. Kali Uchis)"
Coming off his 2017 album Flower Boy, we have "See You Again." This dreamy track features vocals from Kali Uchis, who also appeared on Tyler's previous album, Cherry Bomb. With lyrics like "Wonder if you look both ways when you cross my mind" and "Can I get a kiss? And can you make it last forever?" this song is sure to put you in a romantic mood.
Tyler claims "See You Again" is his favorite song from Flower Boy. With songs like this one and tranquil tracks like "Boredom" and "Where This Flower Blooms," it's no wonder Flower Boy was certified Gold by the RIAA in 2018.
"See You Again," as well as all of Flower Boy, began Tyler's transition into a more flowy, graceful sound. Many believe Flower Boy is the album where Tyler came out as bisexual, as the lyrics from the song "Garden Shed" and the more effiminate tones in Flower Boy hint at a new maturity from Tyler - as if to suggest the artist is blooming into his true inner self.
9. "IFHY (feat. Pharrell)"
This emotional song comes from Tyler's 2013 album Wolf, which addressed the critics of Odd Future and the pitfalls of fame. With gorgeous, heavy instrumentals, "IFHY" explores the rough and angry feelings that are linked with unrequited or troubled love.
Tyler is a big fan of Pharrell, and in a tweet, he even stated that working with Pharrell on Wolf was the "number one moment" of his life.
IFHY shows a mastery of music production from Tyler, as the song starts out coarse and techno-heavy. It takes a sweet-ish turn towards the middle, as Pharrell and Tyler suggest the couple can fix their relationship.
The most commercially successful track off IGOR, "EARFQUAKE" is another love song from Tyler. Featuring a collaboration from Playboi Carti, "EARFQUAKE" is a bittersweet tune about a lover who Tyler depends on despite not treating them the best. Cheery piano chords and distorted drums mask the hurt Tyler feels in this song, and an exploding chorus is sure to stick the lyrics in your head.
"EARFQUAKE" also comes along with an iconic music video, which features Tyler in a blonde wig as he performs on a television show for a wacky woman named Pearl Edwards (played by Black-ish actress Tracy Ellis Ross). Tyler would adopt the blonde wig during subsequent IGOR performances.
In an interview with Rick Rubin on his podcast Broken Record, Tyler explained his inspiration for the title came from there being an actual earthquake when he was penning the song. "EARFQUAKE" was originally written for both Justin Bieber and Rihanna, but both artists turned it down. We're glad they did.
7. "SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE"
One of Tyler's newer songs from CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, "SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE" is a two-part song that explores Tyler's infatuation with a girl and her mixed feelings about their relationship. "SWEET" is very bubbly and has a sugar-pop sound, while "I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE" introduces a more tropical feel.
This double song continues the trend appearing on every 10th track of Tyler, the Creator’s discography, which began with his debut mixtape, BASTARD. On June 14, 2021, Tyler posted a teaser which included the opening of this song. Called "Side Street," the video featured actress Helena Howard and former Odd Future member Taco.
This CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST hit is sure to give you flashbacks to early 2000s' pop classics. Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Youngboy Never Broke Again, and continued involvement from DJ Drama, "WUSYANAME" has Tyler trying to seduce a woman even though he knows she's taken.
Lyrically, this song has a lot to unpack. Many wonder why Tyler tells the girl she looks malnourished, but Tyler explained in a tweet this is because he's using "the worst pick up line ever." It's an example of a comedy element he introduces in CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST.
Additionally, the line "I can show you how you can really exfoliate skin" suggests a perk of having him as a boyfriend is that he'll bring skincare tips and tricks to the relationship. This reference is also a throwback to Flower Boy song "Where This Flower Blooms," in which Tyler elaborates on his personal self care methods, including skincare.
5. "911/Mr. Lonely (feat. Frank Ocean & Steve Lacy)"
Another double song which serves as the 10th track on Flower Boy, "911/Mr. Lonely" features Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy, A$AP Rocky, ScHoolboy Q, and Anna of the North. It has Tyler acting as a 911 operator of sorts. Metaphorically, it suggests he's there to listen to peoples' problems - but no one is willing to listen to his.
The first half of the song is more upbeat but filled with depressing lyrics. The second half has even more depressing lyrics, but with a more tension-filled and snare heavy beat. It's an even mix of relaxation and adrenaline.
During the release of Cherry Bomb in 2015, Tyler stated he wasn't depressed anymore and wasn't eager to explore lyrics with darker themes like he used to. So when "911/Mr. Lonely" was released in 2017, it came as a shock to fans considering Tyler's more recent lyrics were focused around cars and wealth. By going back to his darker rap roots, Tyler demonstrated that money couldn't buy him happiness.
4. "SMUCKERS (feat. Lil Wayne & Kanye West)"
As soon as the tracklist for Cherry Bomb was released, this song received a lot of hype in hip hop circles. Tyler had collaborated with Lil Wayne and Kanye West before, but never together, and never on one of his own projects. Thankfully, this song was labeled as a banger and Tyler proved he could hold his own with two rap gods.
Thematically, this song tackles a lot. It brushes upon things like success, money, authenticity, and insanity. With the beautiful piano solo in the beginning and faded blaring horns, there's something triumphant about this track. Like Tyler on his trampoline, you get a feeling while you're listening to "SMUCKERS" that he's going nowhere but up in his career.
3. "A BOY IS A GUN*"
Graceful, heavy, and full of grandiose emotions, "A BOY IS A GUN*" is one of Tyler's deepest and most important songs to date. It doesn't even feel like a song; it's closer to an epic that only runs three minutes and thirty seconds long.
When it comes to musical inspiration, Tyler took a lot of influence from Kanye West. Like on the song "Bound 2" from Yeezus, Tyler sampled the Ponderosa Twins' "Bound" on this song. "A BOY IS A GUN*" is paradoxical in a way, as it's one of the softest cuts on IGOR, yet it includes a booming chorus and loud gunshot sounds.
"A BOY IS A GUN*" features some of the greatest lyrics ever written by Tyler. Starting with the title...not only is it a full and unabashed confirmation of his bisexuality, but it is inspired by the phrase "a girl is a gun," which refers to both the power and danger women can inflict on male admirers.
True to the title's name, the lyrical insides of "A BOY IS A GUN*" tell the story of a complicated fling between Tyler and a male partner. It starts with Tyler showing full desire for the man, and concludes with the man choosing his ex over Tyler. Tyler learns to distance himself from the man, despite his continued infatuation with him.
Additionally, this song comes with a beautiful music video with visuals similar to Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name. We don't know why we feel it necessary to both cry and jam out while listening to this song, but that's just the way "A BOY IS A GUN*" works.
"Yonkers" was the first single off Tyler's 2011 debut album Goblin, and is a thesis statement of his personality as an artist. Therefore, we felt it necessary to place it high on our list.
The title and heavy beat both reference and make fun of New York-style hip hop. While the lyrics of this song can be controversial, they also unpack Tyler's other two identities: Wolf Haley, which is the name Tyler uses for directing credits on his music videos, and Golf Wang - Tyler, Left Brain, and Julian Berman’s photography web page as well as Tyler’s fashion brand. The song even features Tyler and Wolf Haley, which Tyler describes as the "wild" part of himself, having a Jekyll and Hyde-like conversation.
"Yonkers" became critically acclaimed upon release. Its music video earned Tyler the Best New Artist prize at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. It was also nominated for Video of the Year but lost to Katy Perry’s “Firework.”
1. "NEW MAGIC WAND"
Tyler has repeatedly stated "NEW MAGIC WAND" is his personal favorite out of his entire discography. It's also our favorite song of his, so it's only fair this standout IGOR track takes our #1 spot.
Similar to "A BOY IS A GUN*," this song has Tyler attempting to break up a relationship between his lover and their female ex. He persuades his lover not to leave him while dark, intense, buzzing sounds, and snares accompany his pleas. The bridge slows things down a bit before we're dropped right back into the hurricane of Tyler's emotions.
"NEW MAGIC WAND" features Jessy Wilson and Santigold. Tyler gave an earth-shattering performance of the song during the 2020 Grammy Awards, where he won Best Rap Album for IGOR.
"NEW MAGIC WAND" remains a classic and a great representation of Tyler as an artist because it has the ability to both pump you up and depress you. It shows unrequited love isn't just about getting all in your feels, but also about working hard to better yourself so the person you're fond of might cast their eyes in your direction. While jealousy and rage are some downsides of fighting for a lover's attention, Tyler makes the struggle relatable.
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