Since the release of Flower Boy in 2017, Tyler, the Creator has been tactfully cementing himself as one of the most interesting and important artists in contemporary music. Like its predecessor, IGOR, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST transcends hip-hop. This is a buttery fusion of rap, soul, synth-pop, jazz, and a whole lot more. There’s even a reggae section that doesn’t fall flat on its face, which is mightily impressive in itself. It doesn’t capture the same euphoric highs that “See You Again” and “EARFQUAKE” offered on previous albums, because it’s not that type of album. The music here feels loose and relaxed. The artistry and inventiveness feels effortless, reminiscent - strangely - of a work like In Rainbows. It feels impulsive in all the best ways.
I was one of the many, many young lads to buy into the Odd Future hype back in the day. I rarely revisit those records, but those early mixtapes still provide a lot of joy and intrigue. The occasional aggressiveness of CALL ME harks back to those times, and without needing to resort to cheap shock-tactics. Tyler’s writing is infinitely better here. He’s always been an ambitious producer, but as has been the case since Flower Boy, the creative decisions he’s making are now careful and considered. The music feels sophisticated. How on earth did we get here? Regardless, I’m just thankful he’s no longer using cheap synths to decorate his records.
Tyler has been forward-thinking since the very beginning. His enthusiasm and lust for creativity has never been in question, only hampered by conflicting ideas and outside distractions. Since the controversies have stopped, the music has only excelled. You get the feeling this is the type of album he always wanted to create. The tracklist is scattered with guest features and each one fits the bill perfectly. Domo Genesis excels on “MANIFESTO”, YoungBoy Never Broke Again delivers a smooth and passionate verse on “WUSYANAME”, and whilst I’m usually not a fan of Lil Wayne’s music, he absolutely kills it “HOT WIND BLOWS”. Tyler isn’t just pushing himself – he’s getting the very best out of others too.
CALL ME has a carefree spirit that I can’t help but gravitate towards. It isn’t as conceptual as Tyler’s previous two albums - and it certainly doesn’t strike the same emotional chords – but as an exhibition of creativity and expression it’s one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had all year. Harsh rap verses share the same space as sweet and sugary melodies, with Tyler adapting his voice to fit the multitude of genres he chooses to toy with. Hip-hop is currently blessed with artists who strive to push boundaries to their limit. The biggest compliment I can give Tyler, the Creator is that he is defying the expectations of mainstream rap music more than anyone else right now.
8 out of 10
Tyler sure knows what he’s doing. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is a delicious scramble of sounds, a record that feels all over the place yet utterly assured. In lesser hands the blend might have sounded like a mess, but you can pull in as many directions as you want if the results are this lush, this alive. From the gently barbed synth dream of “MASSA” to the confessionals of “WILSHIRE”, Tyler goes all in on the tangents and sticks the landings.
That said, ‘all in’ translates into something lower key than you might expect. The album is a fairly under-the-radar addition to Tyler’s discography. It’d do well to sound more at ease with itself. Even if it lacks the edge of Flower Boy or IGOR, _CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST _is almost certainly the most pleasant of the three to listen to. It’s like sinking into an improbably soft and colourful velvet sofa.
8 out of 10
A decade on from Tyler, the Creator’s debut album, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST oozes confidence. Following a selection of stylised, cinematic teasers prior to its release, this latest release is a sample filled, feature-packed celebratory parade of Tyler’s career thus far.
Off the back of his two previous studio albums, CALL ME bears a far closer resemblance to the mixtape style of early output like Bastard and Goblin. DJ Drama acts as Tyler’s hypeman, working together to string a more varied collection of sounds throughout the tracklist. At times it feels as though Tyler’s flicking through his record box as samples remain relatively faithful to their original records and tracks take on characters of their own because of it.
There’s more exploration here too. “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” clicks into a reggae rocker for a spell, a jazz flute weaves its way through the album, and pairs up with a Lil Wayne feature in “HOT WIND BLOWS” to make for one of the more surprising collaborations here. But it’s “WUSYANAME” that’s become my earworm, with a laidback, sun-soaked H-Town sample and vocals that ride the instrumental expertly.
Vocals remain true to form for Tyler, the Creator material. Gone are the shock tactics of the early years, but there’s still an edge to the delivery that feels closer to that era of his career. A lot of the playtime acts as a victory lap of sorts. “CORSO”, “RUNITUP” and “RISE!” are just a few of the tracks in which Tyler doesn’t hold back in celebrating his success and sticking it to the naysayers.
CALL ME has been on my regular rotation since its release. It has a mix and match aesthetic of early era mixtapes, yet the maturity of his more recent output. Production is slick, lyrics are on form, and that combination makes for some of the best material Tyler’s ever released. But with more characterful, exploratory tracks comes a departure from the cohesive narratives we’ve seen in Flower Boy or IGOR, and as a result, I don’t feel this album peaks above either of them. Nevertheless, this is a cracker of an album, and I’ll be certainly be coming back for more.
8 out of 10