Release Date: Apr 2, 2013
Record label: Odd Future Records
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap, Hardcore Rap
At 22, Odd Future ringleader Tyler Okonma is already a master at exposing the darker corners of the adolescent male mind, its suffocating frustrations and transgressive thrills. His third solo LP burrows deeper than ever into the rat's nest of bad vibes in his brain: Tyler rages at his absent father, scowls through uncomfortable fan encounters and – true to form – spews tons of supposedly ironic sexism and homophobia. If you can get past that tic, there's plenty to admire on Wolf, particularly in Tyler's self-produced beats, where jazzy chords rub up against fractured noise.
Tyler, the Creator :: WolfRED Music/Odd Future/Sony MusicAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Knock knock motherfucks it's me Mr. ClusterfuckWhat, when, where, how, like who gives a fuck?Golf Wang M-O-B, +moppin+ niggaz +Ante Up+Ain't been this fuckin sick since brain cancer ate my granny up" Trying to quantify Tyler Gregory Okonma is an exercise in futility he'd probably rather people other than his therapist not even attempt - except of course he's his OWN therapist. That's a clever gimmick for intros, outros and filler material on his albums but it also hints at a deeper truth - one of the few things about Tyler that CAN easily be quantified.
It’s hard to think of a more divisive figure in music over the last few years than Odd Future leader Tyler, The Creator. Since self-releasing his debut album Bastard in 2009, Tyler and his hip-hop collective have consistently managed to push boundaries and provoke extreme reactions to their nihilistic music. In fact, the initial impact of Tyler was not too dissimilar to the one that Eminem made back in the day, with many put off by the 22-year-old’s explicit and often violent lyrics.
The “I’m successful now” album has always been a staple of modern music. Everyone eventually does it, some more arrogantly than others. Occasionally it turns out to be pretty good, even though it’s basically a middle finger to the listener, and almost impossible to relate to for the average listener who listens on their daily commute to their 9-5 job to someone moan about being rich and the wrong type of fans daring to talk to them.
One of today’s most polarizing stars, Tyler, the Creator has maximized the Internet’s potential and taken his Odd Future brand from hanging out in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District to what has become a global sensation. Endeared and despised as a musician, emcee and rebellious miscreant, his combination of creative talent and attention seeking showmanship has kept Hip Hop debating whether he’s a passing phase with little substance. Out to extend what pessimists consider a lucky run of success, Tyler’s sophomore retail release Wolf has arrived to an audience equally stoked, skeptical and altogether curious.
If you're looking for more over-the-top, inflammatory for the sake of shock rap from Tyler, the Creator, you'll be fairly pleased with his third solo album, Wolf. If, on the other hand, you're kind of over the Odd Future frontman's horror rap shtick, Wolf will pleasantly surprise you beyond your wildest dreams. Songs like "Jamba," "Domo23" and "Pigs" have enough hooliganism and cartoon violence to satisfy Tyler's core fanbase of feral 15-year olds.
Odd Future ringleader Tyler, the Creator has a rap persona pitched between shock-riddled misanthropy and confessional reflection; he’s preoccupied with his own press and he uses his music as a vent for anger and frustration. His debut album, Bastard, was filled with sharp darts for rap blogs who wouldn’t post his music, while his sophomore album, Goblin, wanted desparately to prove Odd Future was worth all their sudden hype. In the two years since Goblin’s release, Earl Sweatshirt returned from Samoan exile, Frank Ocean opened up about his sexuality in a heartfelt Tumblr note and released the Grammy Award winning Channel Orange, and Tyler unveiled "Loiter Squad", an absurdist late night sketch comedy show.
A lot has already been said about Tyler, the Creator's latest LP, Wolf, and about his propensity to be politically incorrect while simultaneously surprising critics with real depth and sensitivity. Certainly, Tyler's personality is present throughout Wolf, but he's also hamming it up while engaging in awkward conflicts with his critics and, at times, his own audience. .
Wolf is not Goblin. At the end of the record, that may be the most important thing one could say about this album. It is for me. Tyler, The Creator’s debut album (notwithstanding Tumblr release Bastard) was a pretty controversial one here at PopMatters back in 2011. Our own Max Feldman gave it an ….
Beginning with a serene and grand intro/title track that's slowly F-bombed into oblivion -- and that's both F-bombs, the one that rhymes with "duck," and the one that rhymes with "stag" -- Tyler, The Creator's third solo effort Wolf is a frustrating jumble. On one hand, there are the old and now crusty elements where blogs get skewered, professional music review sites get called out by name, and that homophobic slur is dropped with abandon, something made all the more perplexing when Frank Ocean ("out" and Odd Future/Tyler-associated singer) takes time out from his rise to the top to sing with an old friend. Of course, the N-bomb also flies out the door like it was put on clearance, and while Tyler's great feedback loop (he offers a freak out; people freak out; he freaks out about people freaking out, etc.
In 1990, 2 Live Crew were put on trial for obscenity violations at the Ford Lauderdale Court, Florida. The charges were in connection to a local concert where the hip-hop collective played four particular songs from their album Nasty As They Wanna Be. During the show, they recited lyrics that were deemed “obscene” by prosecutors — i.e., they were “patently offensive in the mind of the audience experiencing it.” Among that audience were two undercover detectives who recorded the gig on cassette for future evidence, where lead vocalist Luke Campbell is said to have referred to women as “bitches,” propagated domestic abuse, and encouraged depraved sexual acts on stage.
Their methods may seem novel, and the tenor of their crude, adolescent intensity may be previously unmatched, but Tyler, the Creator and his gang of likeminded roustabouts in Odd Future are hip-hop classicists. At a time when the genre is consistently in flux, they stick to the fixed markers of its archetypal vocabulary, making music that challenges sonically while remaining otherwise traditional. There's the crude sense of humor, used to relieve the built-up tension of so much dense, complex wordplay.
A reoccurring image on Wolf is a house, one whose deed belongs to Tyler Gregory Okonma. He doesn’t talk about waking up in a new Bugatti, he talks about waking up in his new home, where he’s got to climb “eight sets of stairs just to see where [his] fucking roof be.” The fame, isolation, space, pride, and loneliness are represented in this house that Tyler, the Creator references many times on the album. In just three years, he’s gone from sleeping on his grandmother’s couch and making blown-out angst rap with shock lyrics about rape, necrophilia, and misogyny to paying the mortgage on a four-story symbol of responsibility at the young age of 22 and making an album about the trappings of an overactive imagination.
Review Summary: Wolf certainly leaves fans wanting and wondering why an entire record of "Yonkers" or "Domo23" can't happen.Very few hip-hop collectives since the Wu-Tang Clan have had a popular culture impact on such a massive scale as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. With a fan base comprised primarily of sexually starved teenagers, observationally, it still means something when a not-so-far-detached from puberty teen shouts "swag" at passers-by to impress his gang of hi-top clad, neon-colored sagged-pant wearing cohorts. Why does Odd Future appeal to this demographic though, and is this an ill-informed generality? Truthfully, yes - while some fans of the crew may not fall into these tropes, it holds true in a broad sense.
When the Odd Future storm hit almost three years ago, most of the attention centred on Tyler, the Creator and his debut record, Bastard. It was malignant and self-loathing, a maelstrom of teenage vitriol and humour. His angst felt vital. Swallowing a roach in the video for 2011's Yonkers couldn't keep him ahead of his Odd Future comrades who found independent and - in the case of Frank Ocean (and arguably Earl Sweatshirt) - eclipsing levels of success.
Tyler, the CreatorWolf[Odd Future; 2013]By Harrison Suits Baer; April 8, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIf we've learned anything about Tyler, the Creator, it's that we ought to take everything he says with a grain mountain of salt. Whether he's spitting graphic depictions of violent crime with prodigious flow, or reporting that Earl Sweatshirt is dead, or offering Tegan and Sara some "hard dick" in response to their pointed critique of his lyrics, we should have come to expect a certain level of insincerity from Tyler, the Creator. It should be no surprise, then, that Tyler wasn't being entirely honest when he stated on Formspring that "WOLF forsurly will prolly have like 3 rap songs tops.
In the beginning, there was a sort of gutter spectacle surrounding the works of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All Don’t Give A Fuck Litter Life Bacon Boys Loiter Squad Tripp Sixx Crew Golf Wang Free Earl Fucckkkk, with hyper violent bars being spun in hyper lyrical ways; literal kids, key among them Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, producing shocking cuts while somehow maintaining just a little something more than shock value; an artful, still budding expression of Beautiful Violence, “l’aesthetic pornographique”, as Tom Wolfe would call it. Part of it was the way those graphic lines were written, too finely crafted and intelligent to truly be designated “crude”. When combined with the indisputable skills that both Tyler and Earl posses – nimble, distinct flows; a variety of timbres and textures, particularly in the case of Tyler – the early works easily surpass whatever attempts one could make to write them off as juvenile trolling.
“Fuck. Fuck you… I hate you, so fucking much… cause I think you’re a fucking fag.”And so ‘Wolf’ begins.If you’re not already familiar with Tyler the Creator’s work, this may come as a slight shock. For existing fans and detractors alike though, this is pretty standard. We know where we stand and, despite general hints before release that ‘Wolf ‘might take a different direction from previous albums ‘Bastard’ and ‘Goblin’, there are no huge surprises.
Tyler, the Creator is starting to lose his shock value, and not a moment too soon. The gleefully violent and homophobic imagery from his 2011 album, “Goblin,” stole most of the headlines and launched him to infamy, and they occasionally turn up on his new LP, “Wolf,” but if you’ve made your peace with his artistry, the rewards are considerable. That doesn’t mean Tyler has lost the ability to surprise: Consider the decision to sandwich the incendiary “Trashwang” in between dabbling in rap-less electronic jazz fantasy on “Treehome95” and “Rusty,” where he addresses critics, fans, and himself in one showstopping two-minute verse (“Look at the article that says my subject matter is wrong, saying I hate gays even though Frank [Ocean] is on 10 of my songs,” he volleys back).
Perhaps the most startling part of Wolf is the silence. Sure, the unmistakable clamour from Odd Future fans all but guaranteed a robust first week sales figure for this third full-length from Tyler, The Creator. Missing, though, in the lead-up to its auspicious arrival is the sort of critical outrage that surrounded 2011's Goblin, a horror house soundtrack boobytrapped with epithets, violent fantasies, and willful intolerance that recalled the discographies of Gravediggaz and Kool Keith.
When Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died last year, many memorials made a point of alluding to a very specific line from “Sure Shot” off of 1994’s Ill Communication, the group’s fourth record. “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/The disrespect to women has to got to be through,” he raps. “To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends/I want to offer my love and respect till the end.” It was a direct engagement with not only much of the misogyny found in hip-hop at the time but also an apology of sorts for the group’s own rough, immature and at times hurtful rhymes.