Arts & Culture
The Discography of one Tyler Gregory Okonma
A not-so-quick roundup of Tyler, The Creator’s Discography so far.
Disclaimer: I did not include his Bastard mixtape. Albums only.
This recap of Tyler’s discography is a bonus/companion piece to this issue.
Within the first minute of the title track, Tyler lays down the foundation for a lot of the themes he goes back to throughout his career. He mentions his need for attention and using shock as a way to get it. He knows this isn’t necessarily healthy, but he also doesn’t give a fuck about you or your kids or trying to be a role model. He peppers in homoerotic lyrics, talking about metaphorically pleasuring a male rapper he doesn’t even like, using the f-word and saying he is not homophobic.
In hindsight, Tyler was not only pushing the “shock” value of his lyrics but testing his own boundaries and comfort with disclosing some of his deepest thoughts, even if he deliberately masked them with an over the top, super problematic persona.
He brings up his suicidal thoughts and that nagging voice in his head, the therapist, that is in his interludes throughout the album. Tyler proclaims he is the devil. In his Bastard mixtape, he said that his music is what the devil puts on to go to sleep. Maybe he is telling us he uses his own music as a lullaby?
The next track is Yonkers, the song that put him on the map and the one I was introduced to Tyler with. He burst out onto the scene eating a damn cockroach in his music video. I was intrigued. Tyler was a bit shocking, a bit funny. He had the type of wordplay I loved and the eery minimalist mood down. Instant fan. He fantasizes about violence towards BOB and Bruno Mars and claims yet again he is not into men. When new Tyler fans think him discussing the same sex is a new theme, I have to laugh.
White America spun a “be afraid of this wild all-Black group of anarchist gangsters” about Tyler and his group Odd Future in mainstream media back in the day. They hated them so bad. Radicals fully leans into this horror fiction hip-hop narrative. I mean, the track starts off with a disclaimer that proudly proclaims “Fuck Bill O’Reilly” and that they are willing to choose violence each👏🏽and👏🏽every👏🏽time. The song starts very aggressively but has a smooth break in the middle and an outro that has Tyler exploring themes that will become staples in his later projects, mainly of being unapologetic in your pursuits. Damn, I never gave this song a chance to play out because of how rough the beginning was. It’s good.
Frank Ocean kicks off the next song. She is one of those songs that thematically does not hold up today. Period. The Peeping Tom story is not it. The beat is still a vibe though but not enough for me to revisit the tune. Tyler has created much better music and much better music with Frankie.
Transylvania is… I used to love this lmao. Thirty-something year-old-me can skip this. It’s a horror story but the recurring theme of violence toward women is just not okay.
The therapy session is back. His dislike for religion is clear off jump. He revisits this in MANIFESTO on his latest album (I love, btw). Nightmare is a diary entry style track with Tyler’s lyrics and thoughts on full display, which Tyler does again on the beautiful WILSHIRE on CMIYGL. I see recurring themes forming here…
Tron Cat has his most extreme lyrics. This is the song that made people hate Tyler. It might be the one that banned him from all those countries. Even his therapist at the end of the song says: “What the fuck?” That’s about all I can say about that one.
Her is yet another story of being the third wheel in a relationship and having his love interest be into someone else. Tyler speaks about this so much I am really curious how he behaves in romantic relationships at this point. Someone give this man a hug!
Sandwitches was.my.SHIT. Strong memories for sure. All critical thinking down. This song still bumps. It’s so gnarly. Tyler bangers bang the hardest and I’ll die on that hill. This is the type of pompous arrogant “fuck adults” type of anthem I always appreciated. It’s bittersweet to hear Hodgy Beats on this track knowing Tyler and him are not fucking with each other anymore.
Fish is yet again a story of a creep Tyler weaves from his deepest darkest thoughts. There’s a weird 80s break in the middle about an, um, very promiscuous girl… I honestly don’t remember this at all and I kind of wish I didn’t have to hear it. Easily the worst song so far to me.
Analog was my favourite song on the album. This is one of those ethereal types of vibes Tyler tweaks throughout his 10-year career. RUNITUP would be the most similar to it on his latest in terms of vibes. Tyler sure loves living it up on bodies of water. Meet him by the lake.
BSD is messy af with an aggressive ass beat. This is from the mind of teenagers and it shows. I don’t care for it. Next.
Therapy again. It seems like every time Tyler raps crazy shit, he has a session with his therapist to try and understand wtf just happened. I feel you, Tyler. I feel you.
Window has a few great moments by Odd Future alums and a great verse by Frank Ocean that feels personal and very much “no new friends” in terms of energy. Tyler just wanna kill people including his friends it seems. So he does, followed by immediate regret.
AU79 is a welcome instrumental break that shows Tyler doing what he does: layering drums and spacey melodies into a complex and beautiful tune.
Golden is the end of his therapy session and Tyler is losing it. He’s killed his friends. He’s worse off than he ever was. A real dark soul of the night vibe.
Burger was another fave back in the day. I love this type of lazy bass and heavy melody, and it holds up, in my opinion. Hodgy Beat’s chorus is corny but it brings a nostalgic smile to my mouth. Tyler also calls Jimmy Fallon the f-word out of nowhere lmao. That boy is wild.
Untitled 63 is another welcome instrumental. I love Tyler’s voice, but I appreciate it when he lets the music speak.
Steak Sauce concludes the album and this is where he brings in Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez in his lyrics. It’s sad to see Tyler felt the need to ape on a young woman to distract from the fact that he was attracted to Bieber. He addresses this in his recent album, and apparently, everything is copacetic between them so I won’t dwell on it too much.
We are introduced to Camp Flog Gnaw and a few new characters like Wolf (a version of Tyler) and Samuel. Camp Flow Gnaw is actually a whole-ass music festival now, and I’m happy to see Tyler continuing to level it up.
Jamba has a hell of a grimy beat. I miss Hodgy and Tyler together, for real.
Cowboy discusses the dichotomy of what makes Tyler money vs. the stuff he actually wants to do that might be deemed too soft or feminine by society. Even the beat switches when he changes from what is expected of him to say to what he wants to rap about.
Tyler slowly begins to open up and get vulnerable on Awkward. Domo23 is a fkn banger. He also addresses claims of homophobia head-on for the first time.
Answer reveals more about his absent father. That man did him dirty. Damn. Tyler is in pain.
Slater has a signature Tyler sound. The beat is slow and menacing yet switches up yet again midway through with a dreamy feature by Frank Ocean. 48 is a great song with a smooth beat and sombre lyrics. What happens when you get things you only dreamed of? In Tyler’s world, lots of pain and paranoia.
Colossus is about the often discussed “Woe is me I’m a celebrity who gets too much attention” themes in songs that normies like us don’t truly understand because we don’t live it. The beat slowly builds behind Tyler’s deep voice and he uses bells that are beginning to cement his sound. Again he talks about how he fears his friends perceive him as gay. I’m really glad Tyler came into his own and doesn’t give AF about what others think or say about his sexuality anymore.
The threefer PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer was on replay on my Ipod back in the day, even though the whole comparing a woman to a car isn’t the most unique or original approach to the subject Tyler dives into. Sometimes a good vibe is all you need, and these songs give that in spades. I am also a complete sucker for a good beat switch/song transition/multiple songs combined into one for an overarching theme, and Tyler really leans into that here… and perfects it with every subsequent album. Also, Tyler’s lyrics on Campfire are just so visual and extra for no damn reason, it makes me laugh (Describing roasting marshmallows by the fire as “those motherf*ckers getting lynched and burned.” Like, really Tyler? Why?).
Tyler collaborates with one of his idols on IFHY, the incomparable Pharrell. He warns us this is not a song, he just rhymes his words when he’s feeling emotional. “I fucking hate you but I love you” is a good way of describing Tyler’s overall tendency toward his love interests on his earlier projects. I really like the modern Neptune sound on this track, and I remember the video being so weirdo with the dollhouse concept. As usual, it was weird but super creative and kind of cool. Like Tyler.
The beat on Pigs sounds like a dark alternative to Burger from his previous album. Tyler loves to fantasize about total anarchy and terrorizing a bunch of scared old people. Not for a second do I think he’s being serious, but it works better in some songs over others. Here, it works.
Parking Lot combines familiar themes, elements and musical cues from Tyler’s previous work. He really is starting to have a distinguishable sound of his own with this project.
We hear both Earl Sweatshirt and Domo on Rusty. Tyler addresses critics and basically tells them to fuck off. I used to love this song. I think a lot of anxious and slightly depressed teens love Tyler because of these types of “fuck you and fuck off” anthems.
Coco O and Erykah Badu bring in much-needed *female energy* to Treehome95. Very jazzy, smooth and overall loungy neo-soul vibes. I love it.
Trashwang and Tamale are filthy mosh pit-ready bangers I used to bump to A LOT. This is the type of sound and bass I wanted to go to his concerts for but was also scared I’d get trampled on by a bunch of overzealous teenage boys over, so I never did. Bonus points for talking about Justin Bieber yet again. Trashwang sounds like it belongs on Cherry Bomb. Tamale is also the music video I really remember from Tyler being super visually striking and colourful as hell and super internet culture oriented.
Lone brings back the therapist vibes and diary entry-style lyricism. He finishes the album off with his fears, insecurities and general thoughts about life, death, and how far he’s come, and what that means to him.
Overall, this album is too damn long. Could have easily trimmed the fat for a more concise album. I love you, Tyler. But give me a 39-minute album, please.
Cherry Bomb (2015)
Cherry Bomb starts off with the raw electric guitar of DEATHCAMP. He clearly states: “I don’t like the rules. That’s just who I am. I hope you understand.” and that pretty much sums up this album and Tyler’s persona in a nutshell.
The next few songs go on to demonstrate this. His beat and genre switches are legendary at this point, to be honest. BUFFALO shifts so much, the production sounds admittedly confused. It’s nice to hear Syd on PILOT. Damn, it’s incredible the number of artists I’ve been exposed to because of Tyler and Odd Future. Here, Tyler expresses a familiar theme: Having it all but not having the one person he wants.
Schoolboy Q on RUN?! Why don’t I remember this? This just makes me want a Tyler-produced Top Dawg (cough, or Kendrick) project.
FIND YOUR WINGS could have been on Flower Boy. Decidedly less aggressive. It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re playing the xylophone. This song has one of the recurring messages I love Tyler for. Do what you want to do and screw anyone who doesn’t see your potential or vision. The world is yours.
I remember Tyler fans hating the title track back in the day. Tyler mixes pure thrash and punk with his signature aesthetic and the result will work for some and not at all for others. For me, it’s clearly an experimental track and although I don’t really see the replayability value, I love Tyler for showcasing it and making it the title track of the album, probably aware of how divisive it would be. Also, it has an amazing musical transition toward the end that makes the whole song worth revisiting just to see how it gets there. Maybe there is replayability after all. Props for that.
I expected BLOW MY LOAD to be another Trashwang and although the lyrics are WAP level filthy, it sounds like a beautiful r&b song complete with backing harmonies worthy of a Boys II Men song. The r&b vibes continue with 2SEATER and the beautiful sax that plays throughout. The ending interlude lets us know Tyler knows very well there are snakes in his midst.
Schoolboy Q is back on THE BROWN STAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6–12 (REMIX) and so is the heavy bass and bells Tyler has a knack for building a beat with. There are more layers than you could ever notice on a first listen.
FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT is beautiful melody-wise. He also messes around with that bad singing on-purpose voice that we see all over Igor. But this is on some Lolita-type shit lyric-wise, and I’m not vibing with it at all. Next.
Tyler has a way of bringing out the best from his features and there is no better example of this than with Lil Wayne. He sounds great on SMUCKERS and I honestly forgot Kanye West was on this until I heard it again, not to say he was bad. It’s overall a great collaboration between all artists involved. The horns on this remind me of the horns on Safari on CMIYGL and his other Wayne feature, Droppin’ Seeds, on Flower Boy. This is also the first time I hear Tyler call himself the f-word and not his father. He’s obviously going through some shit and still feels the need to insult himself even when he is acknowledging things about himself he previously didn’t.
On KEEP DA O’S, I like the little snappy retro break, where Tyler once again lets loose and does his amateur yet endearing sing-song thing. He tells us to find our wings and learn how to fly. Notice how Coco O’s feature says to learn how to do it. Being talented isn’t enough. You have to work every day to get to where you want to be.
I’m noticing a tendency with Tyler to close out his albums on groovy, mellow tracks that oppose the aggressiveness he introduces them with. OKAGA, CA is a perfect example of that. I can imagine my toes wiggling in the sand while listening to this. Tyler’s ability to make you imagine you’re somewhere you’ve never been to is so unique to him. He touches on it with this song and totally immerses us in it in Call Me If You Get Lost. The instrumental outro to this song is beautiful.
Tyler knows how to end a song and close an album.
Flower Boy (2017)
Flower Boy is where Tyler begins to really cement his love for the concept album. Sure, the therapy sessions and Camp Flog Gnaw explored some of that, but there’s also a narrative thread throughout his actual music here, not just the interludes. I didn’t give Flower Boy enough praise when it came out, but it’s really beautiful. Tyler emerged like a damn butterfly, ready to be more honest with the rest of the world and himself while also being vulnerable about it.
Right away we can see that Tyler is more focused on this project. Foreword is probably his clearest and most introspective intro up until that point. For this song and much of the album, he is way more self-reflective than on his previous work, and for once seems to focus on himself but not so much in a spiteful or hateful way. Also, this is the first time he seems to express his love toward someone else as something positive, and not an immediate death sentence. It’s not all paranoia and hurt.
Where This Flower Blooms is a song I listen to on rotation to this day. Probably one of my fave Tyler/Frankie collabs, and leagues better than their first foray with She on Goblin. Tyler speaks of Growth, Ocean describes leaning out the window of his car enjoying the California weather.
Who Dat Boy is reminiscent of some more narrative-driven horror focused tracks from earlier projects but with a renewed energy, and stellar feature by ASAP Rocky. I honestly was not checking for Rocky before this track, and I’m now a big fan. Yeah, better late than never. Bonus points for another creative and freaky music video inspired by Frankenstein’s monster.
Garden Shed is a beautiful Tyler-esque ballad. He raps: “The feelings I was guarding.” Tyler finally understands that he can’t guard those parts of him. In order to bloom and grow, he must shed his ego. He finally addresses his attraction to the same-sex without it being a punchline or dripping with self-hatred.
Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase
Thought it’d be like the Frank; poof, gone
But, it’s still goin’ on
Man, Tyler introduced me to a lot of artists. Rex Orange County sounds great on both Foreword and Boredom … another positive advice turned anthem from Tyler, reminding his young audience to “find some time to do something.”
Tyler sure does love the xylophone! I’m not mad at it.
I Ain’t Got Time! has one of my fave uses of recognizable samples in a Tyler song. It’s just a bop. I listen to this when I want to dance. And hearing the OF boys ad-libs on this is always welcome.
Tyler drops the proverbial bomb in this song, rapping “I been kissing white boys since 2004” which sounds random but he literally talks about it two albums earlier, so the internet buzz around that line felt weird even at the time. Man, I love this song.
Tyler offers a cute groovy little r&b track on 911/Mr. Lonely featuring the lovable Steve Lacy. I literally still randomly sing out chirp chiiiiirp, chirp, chiiiiiiirp! like once a week. iykyk
Mr. Lonely has some real ass lyrics. “I can’t even lie I’ve been lonely as fuck.” It’s pretty relatable, and the beat is so well produced.
Dropping Seeds has another amazing Lil Wayne feature. I’m ready for a Tyler produced Weezy project.
November is an endearing song about the times in your life that become the best memories. I especially appreciate the bit at the end with people recounting their own special moments, their “November”.
Glitter is so good I listen to this song on heavy rotation. It’s just good vibes, man. Singing about feeling like glitter, what else is there to say?
Tyler finishes the album on a hopeful, positive note with the instrumental, “Enjoy Right Now, Today”. That title gives you everything you need to know. Tyler wears his influence on his sleeve here, from Parliament to Stevie Wonder to The Neptunes. A lovely tune.
With Flower Boy, Tyler tells the world he is willing to be vulnerable but still thinks he is sort of soft for doing it. But he would rather be perceived as soft than not be himself. Because that will inspire someone else to do the same.
“It’s crazy, all im doing is spreading good vibes and tryna give some confidence to people and at least telling them they can accomplish something. sometimes giving some people some hope can really push people to be great.”
— Tyler, The Creator
We’ve made it to Igor! This one is fresh in my mind. I won’t write an entire dissertation, but to me this might be Tyler’s Magnum Opus. It’s also his shortest album (a perfect 39). He is clear, concise and confident in his delivery. Igor is that bitch.
Tyler has learned to edit and hone in his vision. A concept from start to finish. One character. One story thread and one hell of an album. I know a lot of people didn’t like the on-purpose subpar vocals but I appreciate them because that’s honestly how I’m sounding when I sing along to shit, so it was sort of liberating to be at about the same level as the singer on the track. You do not want to hear me try to belt out Beyoncé. Ever.
Igor is a character like Wolf, Samuel and the others he’s created. The (very) brief interludes are welcome for someone like me who tends to skip long interludes on second listens. Jerrod Carmichael’s quick snippets are nice, almost like a whole other type of therapy session than the ones introduced to us by Tyler in his darkest work Goblin. His story of loving someone who doesn’t love him back, or who chooses someone else over him is familiar by now, but the story is less violent (although it still is, indeed, very angry) and more linear. This is the album I finally went to a Tyler concert for, and boy was it amazing. I had about ten years on the rest of the kids attending, but I moved my old hips regardless.
I love all the tracks on this project, honestly, but standout tracks include the groovy EARFQUAKE, a great companion track to SWEET on his latest album, the punchy I THINK, the eargasmic NEW MAGIC WAND and the self-reflective A BOY IS A GUN.
Tyler had mentioned at the time that NEW MAGIC WAND from Igor was his favourite song that he’s ever created, because it combined so perfectly the elements from his Odd Future days and the current sound he was perfecting. If that was the case, then, in my opinion, Call Me If You Get Lost is an album full of New Magic Wands.
CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST (2021)
Tyler has finally found a way to merge all of his personas, from the most jealous, to the most luxurious, to the most gallant, into Tyler Baudelaire’s world. He brings us on a journey we never knew we needed. A Gangsta Grillz inspired album hosted by DJ Drama with Griselda and N.E.R.D. vibes, and as varied as Tyler’s sound can be. Yet, he’s still the same dude. The difference is that his “fuck you” attitude is not to shock. It’s just really how he feels. He’s not the same dude we met when he was 19, and he’s still unlearning a lot of the fuck shit that he used to say and do. I, in turn, fuck with that. The way he builds an orchestrated cacophony when he’s putting on a performance like in LEMONHEAD and JUGGERNAUT and then strips everything but the bare minimum when he spits on a track like MASSA and WILSHIRE is masterful (as well as beautiful and deeply personal). When he wants his voice heard, he makes it heard.
Apparently ASAP Rocky was supposed to be on CORSO but never replied to Tyler’s message. Now I’m curious to know what that would have sounded like. The buildup of the beat is so good, and I love Tyler’s ability to go from an angry to chill vibe with one switch up or instrument addition.
LEMONDHEAD is an OF throwback, and as an old fan I’m down. RUNITUP is a beautiful “I’m on a boat” type track that celebrates one’s wins with his homies. MANIFESTO has another infamous beat switch and omg I haven’t heard Domo Genesis in a hot minute. He still sounds great. It’s noteworthy that there is not one single miss in terms of features on this album. He elevates every single rapper who collaborates with him. And what to say on Lil Wayne’s part in HOT WIND BLOWS? *Chefs kiss* In rare form. Tyler goes from r&b to totally reggae while taking a dive in some light jazz in SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, and I’m 100% here for it. These little surprises and turns are gems for his fans to discover, I think. The interlude MOMMA TALK is just over a minute long and has his mother telling us there is absolutely nothing she won’t do for her son. We can see where he gets some of his bravado from. RISE! feels like it could fit in Childish Gambino’s Untitled album, which is funny because Bino came out of a Twitter coma a few days ago to post a screenshot of this song. Please make all of my dreams come true and collaborate. Can you imagine?
There’s a reason why Tyler, The Creator has to remind us he writes, arranges, and produces every single track on his albums. Like he said, he’s that n****. I love every single closer on Tyler’s albums. SAFARI transports me home after a long and fulfilling journey with Tyler. It’s so nostalgic.
It’s really impressive just how focused CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is. I can’t wait to hear what’s next for Tyler.