In a little more than half a decade Tyler, The Creator has risen from a kid seemingly spewing shock raps in Supreme to becoming one of the more complete artist in music. His grungy production style has become a distinct sound, his raps have gotten progressively better, and he’s taken leaps and bounds in the department of substance. It was rumoured that 2013’s Wolf was going to be the last we would hear from Tyler upon completing his infamous Wolf trilogy, but the fittingly titled Cherry Bomb quieted that down.
Cherry Bomb explodes. Tyler ditches all of the rules to create something different. The album’s intro “DEATHCAMP” shows us exactly where he’s going. Fellow staff writer and Tyler, The Creator enthusiast Keith Morris noticed the traces of Tyler’s N.E.R.D. influence throughout the album which Tyler makes sure to let us know of.
In Search of… did more for me than Illmatic
That’s when I realized we ain’t cut from the same fabric
I made my own shit, you went out and bought yours
Man I got too much drive, motherfucker, I hate traffic
– Tyler, The Creator, “DEATHCAMP”
As jarring as “DEATHCAMP” is, it’s not even the wildest song on the album. This sound can be said to be “grime rap.” There’s hints of Death Grips, there’s the Pharrell influence, it’s as straight to the point as Yeezus, there’s jazz mixed autotuned which brings new and old together, there’s Kali Uchis, and there’s Charlie Wilson. As it progresses the levels become more distorted and Tyler takes more and risks.
This all culminates on the album’s title track “Cherry Bomb.” It’s 4 and a half minutes of madness where the production is mixed so high that it drowns out the vocals despite Tyler actually rapping full verses and hooks. While it’s not aesthetically pleasing it aims to make a point. He begins the song saying that he made this song solely to perform it. Our panel was up in arms about my justification of saying the song was a highlight for this very reason. This is perfect for the moshpit that Tyler is looking to create during his shows and it’s fierce independence backs up his the “find your wings” mantra Tyler preaches throughout the album.
The true candy of the album though is “Smuckers.” Tyler brings the heat with a pretty standout verse of his own before he conjures the spirits of Late Registration Kanye West and mixtape Weezy. Kanye has a verse full of eye opening quotables featuring a smooth Nike jab and an interesting take on socioeconomic status.
Then the beat switches and we get a very comfortable sounding Lil Wayne trading bars with Tyler that featured this standout bit.
My trigger finger wise but my nine dumb
Middle finger blind so its fuck A-N-Y one
Fuck, skate and die son, a hundred ways to die son
I’m starin’ at a tramp on lean, make my eye jump
Use Adderall like alarm clocks wake my high up
Steaks are high well done and prime cut, eat up
– Lil Wayne, “Smuckers”
In 2015 how does a 24 year kid from California bring out the best in two of rap music’s elite? This is a testament to what Tyler, The Creator is becoming. He’s earned the respect of those that matter and has done so much even beyond the music at such young age that it’s going to be a pleasure watching what happens with him in the future.
Overall, Cherry Bomb excites, but not in the way most would like. Tyler goes against the grain successfully in theory, but not in execution as some of the music will leave you a little fatigued. When the album starts to come together you’ll see that Tyler is as creative as ever, and this risk may lead to something even more concise for the future. A very Odd Future.