Evolution & Maturation: Flower Boy

"I say the loudest one in the room is probably the loneliest one in the room." 

When "911/Mr.Lonely" was released in conjunction with "Who Dat Boy", it became evident that the new Tyler album would be different from the others. 

Tyler's real proud of this one too. If you follow him on Twitter, you know that he really really wants this album to be number one. After first week sales, it came in at number two, second only to Lana Del Rey. By all means it has been a commercial success so far, but it resonates even more artistically, and he his pride is warranted.

Flower Boy is a new album, but not a new voice. It's clear that Tyler's style has remained largely the same while adding introspection and maturity to his repertoire. While WOLF dealt repetitively with issues of how others treat him, especially his complex anger towards his father, Flower Boy serves as a canvas for his own internal exploration.

Much has been made about Tyler's Flower Boy explorations of his love and sexuality, and that's important, sure. But I think perhaps more important is what the album represents on a meta level. It reminds me of Jay-Z's 4:44; both albums were released to largely good critical acclaim, and both were laced with vulnerability which came as a surprise after a career of bravado. The parallels are compelling, and suggest that the new alternative to trap's dominance isn't the resurgence of pop rap, but rather a rise in lyrical vulnerability and varied production. I think Aminé's debut album will serve as further evidence of this new trend, but we'll see on Friday.

My favorite track on Flower Boy is November. Whereas Tyler essentially screams "fuck you" at both the world and his fans in his earlier albums, November asks where the happy place is. Where's your November? It's one of the mellowest tracks on the album, and personally I'm a sucker for a good mellow, lyrical, and emotionally present track.

One of the things that I like the most about Tyler is his production and audio style. At times brash and in-your-face, it feels real and authentic, even when his persona is going off the walls of horror-core. Best of all, his voice is aware of its own style and continues to play with words and melodies in a way that's simultaneously grounded and evolving. Tyler's distinct voice lends itself well to the familiar horror-core of his early career, but Flower Boy proves that his voice is dynamic, and still fun to listen to. 

In a summer filled with great albums and near-constant releases, this will quite possibly be my Favoritest-Ever-Album-of-the-Summer. It's one of those albums that you need to listen to over and over and over again, and each time you find a beautiful new line. One of my friends texted me over the weekend about the album, and I told him that it's one of those projects you'd listen to in a car over a road trip -- not at a party. But wait. If you break the album up into individual songs, "Who Dat Boy" and "I Ain't Got Time" slap. Definite pregame music. That's a sign of a great artist, I think. The ability to produce a project that's beautifully cohesive put together, but with songs that stand alone in their own context. Kendrick Lamar's projects are other great examples of this idea. DJ Khaled, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this. The Khaled album might be a commercial success, but it's not an artistic one. Where's the project value in throwing a bunch of commercially oriented singles into a package together? Flower Boy is the opposite of this. Like Kendrick's DAMN., the project is fully formed and valuable in its entirety. 

 I don't want Tyler to make a new album any time soon, because there are layers and layers to this one that will take time to parse apart. I think that's the point of the album. Flower Boy demands to be listened to repeatedly and sympathetically. 

Listen to Flower Boy on Spotify.