CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
Tyler, the Creator
2021 • RAP/HIP-HOP • COLUMBIA
On his seventh record, hosted by DJ Drama, Tyler, the Creator explores his artistic skills while investigating, his past, society, and a relationship doomed to failure.
it has always been usual to link music with other forms of artistic expression. Perhaps as a search for validation based on elite art, singers have always tried to associate their sound with painting, sculpture, theater, and others. In recent years, Kanye West has briefly referenced Pablo Picasso on his album The Life of Pablo. Tyler, the Creator, meanwhile, on his seventh album, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, references French writer Charles Baudelaire to create the character Tyler Baudelaire, who, according to some journalists, can be associated with the writer for his inability to achieve a dream relationship and for his transition from a young amateur to a loving and sensitive man. According to Morgan Britton, the two “have been fixated on the struggle between romance and realism, luxury and love, beauty and death, talents and controversies.” However, in CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, Tyler proves that this connection is just a mere line between names and that his role goes far beyond writing novels.
Hosted by DJ Drama, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is Tyler’s most complete album to date. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the best, but maybe it’s the furthest he’s gone so far. With his sharp and agile composition, the 30-year-old California rapper investigates love, his rise to fame, capitalism, racial issues throughout history, and exalts his family. Even though it’s not the most memorable or perhaps the most exciting and conceptual album of his, it’s still possible to notice the importance that the work, as a whole, has in his life and career. It’s a cheap comparison, but you can see CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST as Tyler’s The Life of Pablo: it’s a unique piece but it’s not quite his masterpiece.
As we mentioned the French writer and poet, taking this line as our north, we can start talking about the entire composition of the album, which, as in other works by Tyler, appears as one of the strongest points. “MASSA” is the best example of Tyler’s writing skills. In the track, Tyler draws a parallel between the situation of black people at the time of slavery and today. He recalls that despite the various social, political, and economic advances that society has made over the years, there is still room for racism. He starts, “Yeah, when I turned twenty-three that’s when puberty finally hit me/My facial hair started growin’, my clothing ain’t really fit me/That caterpillar went to cocoon, do you get me?,” and then, “Massa couldn’t catch me, my legs long than a bitch.”
These writing skills expand into several tracks of the album. In the opener, “SIR BAUDELAIRE,” for example, he introduces the album’s character, Tyler Baudelaire, in detail. In “CORSO,” he turns his eyes to his social life and his influence on people. He closes the song by saying, “I don’t even like using the word ‘bitch’/It just sounded cool,” one of the most memorable moments in the song. Next, Tyler, 42 Dugg, and Frank Ocean perform a sort of competition between material goods in “LEMONHEAD.” Tyler begins, “I don’t lean but my house do/Off the hill with the mean view/Nice house if you look out/You can see some eagles and a few yacht,” and 42 responds, “Two-tone Patek in this bitch, goddammit/Ten bad hoes, nigga, look at that bitch/Still sellin’ dope, I be cookin’ that shit.” “LUMBERJACK,” “RUNITUP,” and “WILSHIRE” come up with some good moments as well.
In addition to these more down-to-earth moments, CALL ME has other cuts where Tyler’s imagination ran wild. In the romantic “WUSYANAME,” featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign, Tyler draws on the rap, hip-hop, and r&b influences of the late 1990s and early 2000s to create a sound that blends love with sex, emotion with physical desire. Afterward, she features a fusion of soft elevator music with heavy, heavy car beats in “HOT WIND BLOWS,” with Lil Wayne. As they sing about lust, what appears to be Penny Goodwin’s “Slow Hot Wind” sample is paired with flutes and bongos. However, one of the album’s best moments is the double track “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE,” mostly for the hook of the second part, where a homegrown choir sings, “So, what makes you think/I’m not in love?” and then, at the end, when they come back to close the track. “So don’t forget about me, ba-ba-ba-da/I’ll save a dance just for you,” they sing. Of course, throughout the album, we have other moments where we have different instruments or passages, like other samples or even unexpected wind instruments, but they are so inconspicuous sometimes because of how the sound is treated in the songs. At various times all instrumentation seems to be muffled or even disowned, creating a certain sonic mass too homogeneous.
However, this vast ambition Tyler had for this album doesn’t always work. Pieces like “MOMMA TALK” and “BLESSED” aren’t bad, but they add nothing. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t delight someone new to Tyler’s music, but rather those die-hard fans. And maybe this is where the album comes closest to TLOP, which has several moments that seem to be only appreciated by those who are immersed in the singer’s discography and life. “MANIFESTO,” on the other hand, seems weak because the free and petty hate on social media is what bothers both Tyler and Domo Genesis, who has previously sung about much more important things than just fandom fights and cancel culture, which don’t even exist at the first place. Finally, “WILSHIRE” is the biggest disappointment. It’s an eight-minute-long track where Tyler tells this detailed story about their relationship. The problem is that Tyler can’t keep it interesting for eight minutes and the sonic part of the track, monotonous beats and not different, doesn’t help, making the track seem like a dull, boring piece. At the end of the day, those moments don’t get in the way of the album that remains a very good album. Of course, if you’re a fan who follows Tyler more closely you’ll probably enjoy the record pretty well, but it’s still going to run brilliantly for everyone.