Flower Boy is an album at odds with itself. Officially titled Scum Fuck Flower Boy – a GG Allin reference fused with a term for effeminate men – the album puts Tyler’s dichotomous personality on display in his most mature album yet.
The album kicks off with four bars: “How many cars can I buy ‘til I run out of drive? / How much drive can I have ‘til I run out of road? / How much road can they pave ‘til they run out of land? / How much land can there be until I run in the ocean?” Delivered over a CAN sample, Tyler speaks on the emptiness of material possessions, setting the scene for the album’s introspective tone.
Immediately after, ‘Where This Flower Blooms’ melds Tyler’s gravely voice, classic Odd Future-type synth and glowing arpeggios for one of the best tracks on the album. Almost contradicting the previous track, Tyler reflects on his humble beginnings and the real gifts that fame has brought him.
It’s these kinds of contradictions and connections that make the album as captivating as it is. For example, ‘Boredom’ is incredibly on point, with hook “Find some time / Find some time to do something” and the repeated “Boredom, boredom, boredom, boredom” accentuating Tyler’s message in a clever way. The next track, dizzying banger ‘I Ain’t Got Time!,’ flips the tone thematically and musically. Closing instrumental ‘Enjoy Right Now, Today’ gracefully draws out a third option without a single verse.
With tracks like ‘Enjoy Right Now, Today,’ ‘November,’ and ‘Garden Shed’ (well, really every track), Tyler shows his producing ability has been taken to incredible new heights. Each track is layered in such a meaningful and deliberate way; Tyler has learned how to even out the clutter that plagued Cherry Bomb. ‘Glitter’ brings alien synths and raw wooden percussion before segueing into bright guitar and cold piano chops – and somehow everything fits. It’s staggering, even the way each song is constructed fits the album thematically.
Roy Ayers and Tyler are reunited – and aided by Jaden Smith – on ‘Pothole,’ an extended metaphor for obstacles in life. ‘Garden Shed’ immediately follows, another metaphor, this time for Tyler’s own guarded sexuality. ‘November,’ the album’s strongest track, is simply a reference to a time when he was actually happy. The latter two are also connected, with ‘November’ having a namecheck to track seven.
While the kind of soul-searching that Tyler explores on this album isn’t exactly fresh, I found his album captivating all the same. Tyler understands that poetic chops are just as important as subject matter, and that’s where he delivers, without feeling the need to turn into a lyrical spiritual miracle. You won’t find any cringeworthy shock humor lines on this project, either. Aside from some just-okay singing, Tyler’s performance on the album was great.
While Tyler’s continued growth as a producer and lyricist has been apparent in recent work – e.g. ‘FIND YOUR WINGS’ and ‘WHAT THE FUCK RIGHT NOW’ (his unforgettable Kanye remix) – I plainly didn’t think I’d enjoy a new Tyler, the Creator album. I guess I seriously underestimated him. It won’t happen again.