IGOR is the 6th studio album (sure, we’ll count the Grinch soundtrack) from the former Odd Future affiliate and Grammy-nominated artist Tyler, The Creator. Released on May 17th, IGOR is being regarded as Tyler’s most eclectic record to date; just three days ago, IGOR became Tyler’s first no. 1 debut, finding more than half the album landing in the Top 100. With only 12 songs and a runtime of 40 minutes, this album is the breath of fresh air in the current state of rap and music in general. In what has been one of the most entertaining and radical evolutions in modern art, Tyler has once again shifted the landscape with a body of work that pushes boundaries while still giving that “no f***’s given” energy that propelled the rapper/producer to fame in the early part of this decade.
IGOR offers a more open side of the rapper, who has been dropping lines about his possible bisexuality for the past 2 years. But unlike his 2017 release Flower Boy, this album isn’t a polished confessional, with all the glitz, glamour and musicality of his previous effort. IGOR is raw, it’s honest and it’s not looking to sugarcoat the emotions. When listening to this record, imagine a handmade Valentine’s Day card being dropped in the middle of a moshpit. It’s emotional in its delivery and packs a punch unlike any other album in his discography. Centered around love and heartbreak, the album carries like a story from start to finish. IGOR is a roller coaster, as is any volatile relationship. The narrative itself isn’t exactly cohesive, but it matches well the overall aesthetic Tyler seems to be conveying. It’s love, and love can be as messy as it is beautiful. Especially for the first time, with the album touching on. And the production goes hand in hand with the energy of the record. It’s no mystery that Pharrell is one of Tyler’s biggest inspirations, even having the fortune of collaborating with the legendary producer/artist on many occasions. The inspiration comes full circle with IGOR, bringing back the funk of the N.E.R.D era with hard-hitting production and sonic grooves that make you wanna jump around and dance. It’s Tyler’s spin on traditional R&B with hints of funk, and of course the occasional bangers. To the surprise of many, there a lot of uncredited guest appearances scattered through the album. From music industry giants to international up and comer’s, even TV’s Jerrod Carmichael finds himself laced into the album, mainly in the interlude EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING.
The synth-heavy intro IGOR’S THEME serve as only a taste of what the album has in store, with an uncredited Lil Uzi on the chorus crooning about how listeners are gonna “feel this one”. The track also enlists singer Solange on the back end of the track, who recently collaborated with Tyler on her last project When I Get Home. Solange can be found harmonizing on a handful of the cuts on IGOR.
And it doesn’t stop there. Coming in after IGOR’S THEME is EARFQUAKE, which finds Tyler in his R&B bag as he’s pleading with his lover to stay with him through the tough times. Comparing the love to that of a literal earthquake, the track features guest vocals from R&B legend Charlie Wilson and verse from Atlanta’s own Playboi Carti.
Throughout the remainder of the record, Tyler pulls out all the stops. The funky I THINK finds the rapper in disbelief that he’s found true love for the first time, with Solange lending her vocals once again. The dreamy and smooth RUNNING OUT OF TIME brings a dramatic tension to the album, with the overall theme around a love Igor knows will be short-lived and the urgency that brings.
Some of the rap performances on IGOR are Tyler’s best to date; NEW MAGIC WAND is a hard-hitting banger of a track that stands alone on IGOR. With the subject matter geared towards someone standing in your way of love and imagining the lengths that you’d go to “get them out the picture” as Tyler sings in the first leg of the track. If you’re looking for the one that’ll get your head rocking, this is the one for you. A BOY IS A GUN gives you a soulful, Graduation-era Kanye type of feel. Tyler’s wordplay is immaculate, rapping about how his crush is like a gun: dangerous. It’s a definite favorite amongst critics and fans alike, and if you’re a hip hop purist, this is the track you’ll keep in your rotation.The glittery, synth-heavy final stretch of the album delivers, finishing off strong with tracks like PUPPET featuring Kanye West; a song detailing the hold someone can have over when in love, losing all self-control in order to please them. West delivers a brief, muffled verse towards the end, as if to be a rushed add on. Either way, Kanye his usual flare. The song WHAT’S GOOD is all drum and distorted synths, with another lively rap performance on display from Tyler. GONE GONE/THANK YOU gets a boost from the one and only Cee-Lo Green, and I DON”T LOVE YOU ANYMORE is as straight to the point as it gets. The end of the emotional roller coaster, the moment of clarity.
ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?, the final track on IGOR, is the loose end that comes with most relationships: where do we go from here? Tyler grapples with the uncertainty of him and his former lover’s future. The track open’s with vocals from Al Green himself, and Pharrell coming in on the chorus.
Once again, Tyler has solidified himself as a true musical gem and furthers his artistry with every release. You can stream IGOR on all platforms, and an upcoming tour is expected to be announced soon.