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Top 10 Incredible Underrated Modern Songs of Tyler, the Creator
This article is going to focus on the underrated songs from this new modern era of Tyler, The Creator which started with his 2017 album, Flower Boy. With this album, Tyler shed the aggressive shock rap personality of his earlier works and embarked on a journey of self-discovery.
By Aashish Pradhan
1 January 2024
Tyler Okonma, better known by his stage name Tyler, the Creator, is one-of-a-kind artist of this era. He is one of those musicians who create music purely out of their passion, and it echoes through every note in his extensive discography. Whether it's sampling a beat or incorporating something as subtle as a breathing sound into a song, one thing is for sure that if Tyler lends his touch to a song, then he is giving it his all.
Tyler is quite selective of the songs he releases, and isn't afraid to withhold those that don't align with the concept of his albums. The prime example is the song "Best Interest" which is a catchy, fast-paced and an incredible song overall, but it wasn't included in his IGOR album. He is also known to maintain a complete creative control over his work at nearly every stage, to the extent that he personally produces the majority of his songs, and directs his own music videos.
Tyler is that guy in a group, who believes in himself and his vision so much that he isn't hesitant to dip his toes in every venue, and that's a great quality to have in an artist.
The journey to success of this 2x Grammy Awards Winner artist hasn't been quite smooth sailing. At the start of his career, Tyler was deemed as a controversial figure, he even got banned from travelling to certain countries. Why, you ask? Well, I'll advise you to pause reading this article and listen to songs like - Sarah, Tron Cat, Transylvania, and Fish.
So, did you finish hearing these songs? Then I hope you'll now realize that Tyler used to talk about some dark, some really really dark subjects before. This even got to a point when people started taking his tweets & memes more seriously than his music and that just flipped a switch in his mind and thus began the new era of Tyler, the Creator's music.
This article is going to focus on the underrated songs from this new modern era of Tyler, The Creator which started with his 2017 album, Flower Boy. With this album, Tyler shed the aggressive shock rap personality of his earlier works and embarked on a journey of self-discovery. He explored themes of loneliness, self-doubt, and sexuality, and even started experimenting with instrumentals. This pivotal shift paved the road for his subsequent albums, IGOR and CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, which explored these themes on a deeper levels.
Moreover, Tyler's musical journey spans over a decade and there is a roster of songs which just went under the radar of the mainstream public, and to discuss all of that in a single article would be very challenging. Therefore, in this article I'll discuss the underrated, lesser known songs of Tyler, the creator's three latest albums.
WILSHIRE (CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST)
Let’s start the list with a controversial opinion of mine: WILSHIRE is one of THE best songs from Tyler, The Creator. It holds a very special place in my heart, so much so that it was my most-played track of this year according to Spotify Wrapped. My obsession to find storytelling even in songs needs to be controlled, that’s for sure.
Agree or disagree, but that doesn’t change the fact that this song showcases Tyler’s storytelling ability at its peak. Recorded in a single take with a crappy hand-held mic, WILSHIRE doesn't rely on catchy beats & chorus to get stuck inside your head. Instead, it's the song's storytelling, impressive bars, and clever wordplay that make it so unforgettable. Tyler uses a very laidback beat to take us into a journey of love, heartbreak and his eventual growth. The narrative was teased throughout the album in other song (like CORSE, WUSYANAME and SWEET/ITYWTD), and these all culminated into this one final song.
Clocking in at 8:35 minutes, this song may seem a bit long, but it surprisingly feels much shorter and just flows like water. Tyler is at his most honest and raw self here, and with every word you can feel his emotions and sadness, and that's what music is all about - a vehicle for artists to deliver their vulnerability and make us experience what they've been through.
Shoppin' 'til we droppin', what you coppin'?
See, the price is not a option
It's investments 'cause your smile is the profit to me
I know around him, you gotta act like you not into me
I know your answer, but you gotta keep it honest with me
November (Flower Boy)
You know what they say: Better times in your life are hard to come by, but the memories of them will stay with you forever. Yup, 'they' is me, I just made that up. Anyway, in November, Tyler often uses the month of November as a euphemism for the happy times in his life. He keeps longing to go back to simpler, more joyful, and more carefree times of Summer of 2006.
Featuring additional vocals from the likes of Jasper Dolphin, Vince Staples, Syd Bennett, Kilo Kish, and others, the bridge sees the artists reflecting their own Novembers, when they were happy from inside of their heart. Moreover, this track can be divided into two distinct parts, with the first verse describing Tyler's insecurities & fears towards his career and life, as he ponders the possibility of losing everything and returning to those terrible apartments in Ladera Ranch, California.
The second verse takes a different direction as we see Tyler attempting to connect with his crush, while building up his confession in the next song "Glitter" which is just a long voicemail. November as a song reflects Tyler's maturity towards his life and work, and it can be seen in the profound theme and instrumentals of this track. So, listen to this track and let me know - what's YOUR November?
'Cause I was too busy tryna make classics
(Boy ain't got no motherfu**ing classics)
What if my music too weird for the masses?
And I'm only known for tweets more than beats or
All my day-ones turn to three, fours 'cause of track seven
BOYFRIEND, GIRLFRIEND (2020 Demo) (CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST)
First teased/played at the start of CORSO's music video, BOYFRIEND, GIRLFRIEND is the most fun & vibey song of the Call Me If You Get Lost album. It hits all the right spots with its theme, disco instrumentals, and that extra-ordinary catchy chorus.
YG fits perfectly well in this track, and his outro is a definite highlight, couldn't have gone any better. YG's verse delves into themes of intimate desires, and is completely contrast to Tyler's verse, which describes his loneliness and desire for companionship during such vulnerable state. The chorus and the title "Boyfriend, Girlfriend" is exactly what you think it is - serves as a reflection of Tyler's bisexuality, and shows that he just wants someone to be there for him when he needs them the most, irrespective of their gender.
My favourite aspect of this song is undeniably the groovy bridge and soothing post-chorus, makes me want shake a leg every time I listen to it.
I just want someone to talk to whenever I start feeling alone
Sometimes it gets hard to watch you
When I know I can't have you to call you my own, but
You should be my boyfriend, girlfriend (Girlfriend)
Garden Shed (Flower Boy)
You ever come across a song so beautiful that if it were a person, you would get married to it instantly? Garden Shed is one such song. The captivating power of this song comes from the instrumentals, which consist of a blend of synth, guitar, bass, and drums, and it is further elevated by Estelle's stunning vocals.
Tyler uses the Garden Shed as a metaphor to contain his sexuality and orientation, much like a shed stores tools within its walls. Just as the shed holds its contents hidden from view, Tyler has been keeping his feelings locked away for a long time. In the second verse, he even confronts his feelings, comes out of the closet, and admits that at first, he thought it was just a phase but now that's his identity.
This song carries the themes of the album, Flower Boy, and successfully demonstrates the feeling and struggles of Tyler as he battles with his sexuality. Tyler has previously addressed his orientation through his jokey tweets & songs too, but in this song, he takes a more serious and elegant approach to explore his identity.
Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase
Thought it'd be like the phrase; "poof," gone
But, it's still goin' on
Big fan of the beige tan
Polka dot nose, how it goes
Had to keep it on the subwoofer
A couple butterflies wanna float
But I was always like, "Eh"
"What is this song? Why haven't I heard that on the streaming platforms?" You're probably asking yourself this same question, and that's a valid concern, but you see, Tyler didn't include Boyfriend in the official track-list of his album, IGOR. It was rather available in the physical copies & vinyl of the album, and replaces the official track “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM IS WHAT YOU END UP CHASING”.
You can never go wrong with Uncle Charlie (Charlie Wilson), and the intro uses his voice over that delightful piano to perfection. The production carries this song, whether it's the backing vocals, the drums or the subtle clapping sounds, everything is implemented so well and compliments the overall song. The highlight of the song, you ask? Certainly, that heavenly outro (Guessin', don't be guessin'), I've played that specific part quite a lot.
But it is a known fact that IGOR album features a love triangle, and this song cements Tyler's feeling towards the person. He is confessing his desire to be their boyfriend, and implies that they are the same (whether the same personality or the same gender).
Compliments to smiles, or light to sun
This feels natural, no substitute, not one
Can't buy you the world, but my time is yours
Let you roll the dice, but I made my choice
SAFARI (CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST)
In each of his albums, Tyler invests a lot of thoughts into the ending. He concludes his album IGOR with "Are We Still Friends" and connects it with the first track, Igor's Theme, in a similar tone to sort of create a loop to tie the album together. However, in CMIYGL, he diverges from this approach and uses SAFARI to bring the album's theme to a very effective conclusion.
The most underrated aspect of CMIYGL, and also of SAFARI, is the ad-libs by DJ Drama; they never fail to add energy and that special flair to the tracks, and here the Gangsta Grillz just shines on the chorus. Tyler, on the other hand, just flows on this track, and the trumpet mixed with a bit of flute in the background, oooh sounds just like heaven to the ears.
Tyler never misses with the ending of this albums, and and SAFARI is no exception. It features one of Tyler's best verses on the album, captivating instrumentals, and a catchy hook, which all end the album on a high note.
Every car retarded, the garage look like a loony bin
What coupe he in? Depends on the 'fit and the type of mood he in (Ugh)
I been switchin' gears since Tracee Ellis Ross was UPN
Clutch, then he stroke outta nowhere like a droopy grin (Ugh)
Huh, took that Grammy home, couldn't lose again
The suit was so sharp that it could get Medusa coochie trimmed (Ugh)
Where This Flower Blooms (Flower Boy)
Tyler's entire discography shows a clear pattern: whenever he collaborates with Frank Ocean, you know for sure that the result is going to sound wonderful, and this trend continues to hold true to this day. The two come together again in this wonderful song tiled 'Where This Flower Blooms'.
Just like every other song in Flower Boy, this track features some polished and lush production, and that majestic, astounding, gorgeous, staggering & breath-taking beat drop just takes it up a notch. Ocean adds his own touch to the chorus with some impressive wordplays, and makes me wonder WHY HASN'T HE RELEASED A DAMN ALBUM SINCE 2016? Come on Frank, we're waiting.
So, I have this canon arc in my mind that the first track of this album, Foreword, is more of an interlude, which sets up the stage for the album to really begin with Where This Flower Blooms. This song embodies Tyler's growth in his career. We see a glimpse of Tyler reflecting on his life before fame, when he was working at Starbucks, and how now he finds himself behind the wheel of the very cars he used to dream of owning.
80 dollar profit from the coffee I poured
Rent-A-Center calling everyday
Nobody home, they're knocking on the door
Now I skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt (Skrrt!)
In toys I only dreamed that I could afford
A good relationship & Tyler Okonma are just like ketchup & ice-cream - they don't go along with each other quite well. Throughout his career, we've seen Tyler rapping about his failed & complicated relationships, and in Puppet he reaches a new level of self-awareness and recognizes the destructive nature of his relationship & obsession for his lover and the harm it is causing himself.
Tyler wants to give his all to this person, but he is beginning to realize the ways in which they are controlling and manipulating him, leading him to question whether he truly has free will or is simply a puppet under their influence. The production further complements the overall tone of this song. With that beautiful synthesizer, haunting melody, and Kanye West's feature, Puppet is one of those rare songs during this day and age of music, which manages to impress us using both its musical and lyrical content.
God, that's all I want, other than air
Oxygen and financial freedom, yeah
I want your company, I need your company
I want you to want from me
I can't maneuver without you next to me
It's so complex to me
RISE! (CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST)
RISE! clearly highlights that you can have a melodically simple chorus, yet can easily make it to be the standout moment of your track. Apart from the chorus, pay attention to Tyler's clever use of wordplay, rhyme, and flow in the second verse, and this song might become your favourite one from the album.
Finally, for a change, Tyler isn't resorting to lyrics like "Please don't go, please just stay" to beg his lover to stay with him. Instead, he flips the script in this track, and directs the same plea to his haters. He wants them to stick around so they can witness his success as he rises to the top, and that my friends, is just beautiful.
They tried to boycott him, but he didn't dim
He started from the bottom and they want the fall-off
Like he skipped autumn and spring some more wins
Look, you tell me I can't, I tell you I can
You tell me I can't, I do it again
Reversin' the job, like blowin' a fan
I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE (IGOR)
What sets Tyler apart as an exceptional artist is his ability to delve into deep-mature themes, express his emotions and feelings against a backdrop of incredible instrumentals and catchy melodies, all while remaining true to his musical influences. You'll never see him ignore the 'music' aspect of the song in favor of emphasizing the lyrics, and 'I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE' is the best example of this.
In this track, Tyler employs fewer lyrics yet conveys a lot. The lyrics reveal a sense of self-deception, as he pretends and attempts to convince himself that he has no love for his partner, and is ready to move on after being constantly hurt by them. And he communicates his feelings through a magnificent blend of electric guitar, drums and his high-pitched vocals in background, which when combined sound so majestic.
During first few listens, this track might sound somewhat messy to you as the layered vocals overlap and create a chaotic tone, but this only mirrors Tyler's own internal struggle and represents the overlapping of his own feelings towards his partner.
And realize there's more fish in the sea, I'ma re-up
Like, bitch, I know my shit is bumping, it's eczema
So I won't walk around with my head down like I got beat up
Um, you do you, I'll do me, I’ll just chuck the peace up
I ain't tryna keep up, because
I don't love you anymore (Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah)
So, these were some of my favourite underrated songs by Tyler, the Creator. His entire discography is filled with some wonderful music, and I know I have missed songs like “What’s Good”, “Foreword” and “Massa, but I had to stick to the 10 songs restriction for this article.
But I’ll write another article discussing more such underrated songs, not only of Tyler but also of other artists too. If you want a Spotify Playlist of the songs mentioned in the article, then don’t worry, I got you. Just click on the link/text below:
Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you have a great time listening to such incredible music.
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