After two years of staying relatively quiet on the music front, Odd Future head honcho Tyler, The Creator has returned with Cherry Bomb – his fourth individual effort, adding to 2015’s lengthy list of rap releases.
While there are a few instances when the song content on Cherry Bomb is reminiscent of Tyler’s previous work, the album, for the most part, pushes the 24-year-old artist into a new direction – one where he finds a new comfort zone for himself, instead of others.
Tyler’s blending of genres and his N.E.R.D. admiration are two of the project’s prevalent elements.
On the intro of the album – “Deathcamp” – the California emcee surprises listeners with immediate energy and is honest enough to rap “In Search Of… did more for me than Illmatic / that’s when I realized we ain’t cut from the same fabric,” atop a metal-esque instrumental filled with guitar riffs and background screams crafted to create rowdy moshpits at unruly juvenile concerts.
As someone who stands out because of his style and persona in the rap/hip-hop genre, Tyler, The Creator consistently urges listeners to stop aiming to solely please others.
Being comfortable in one’s own skin is a recurring theme on Cherry Bomb. As someone who stands out because of his style and persona in the rap/hip-hop genre, Tyler, The Creator consistently urges listeners to stop aiming to solely please others.
“Buffalo” and “RUN” are two excellent examples of Tyler’s newfound leadership mantra. While “Buffalo” addresses the rapper’s many critics, and insults people who tend to follow others, “RUN” – one of Cherry Bomb’s most memorable tracks – is an explosive one-minute stream of consciousness, which has the Odd Future leader critiquing the concept of gangbanging, while rapping with a sped-up double-time flow and an altered voice.
The aforementioned high-pitched voice inflexion is hit or miss on this project though. At times, it works on songs such as the gang-criticizing “RUN” and the well-produced unusual love ballad “Fucking Young”.
In other moments, it takes away from overall quality – like in the Pharrell-assisted “Keep Da O’s” and the second half of the otherwise enjoyable song “2Seater”.
The same hit or miss critique can be made for the instrumental distortion effect that often occurs on the project. There are moments when it works well (“Deathcamp”, “RUN”) and others not so much, like on the title track, “Cherry Bomb”. The more energetic beats have some interesting characteristics, but at times become too distracting and almost completely mask the vocals.
While sacrificing the possibility of creating an album that completely satisfies one audience, Tyler’s versatility offers a little bit for the several potential tastes of listeners consuming Cherry Bomb.
Looking for a slower, more heartfelt cut? Press play on the jazzy record “Find Your Wings”, which presents listeners with the album’s oddly positive theme, or even one of the album’s later tracks, “Okaga, CA”, where Tyler discusses dreams with a love interest.
The album may not fully delight every listener, and it may not be what many expected from him, but it still moulds a distinctive sound from one of the new school’s more popular artists in alternative rap.
More interested in rap delivery and punchlines? Check out the Kanye West and Lil Wayne assisted track “Smuckers”, where a focused, rapping Tyler, The Creator, welcomes great contributions from two of hip-hop’s biggest names who have been critiqued for their recent efforts.
Want the brasher, wilder version of Tyler? Give a listen to “The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6-12 [Remix]”, featuring the always-entertaining ScHoolboy Q. With the playful song title, Tyler and Q team up to create an impressive record abstract enough to fit the Cherry Bomb artist’s foul-mouthed flair, but with enough lyrics throughout to have a rap listener’s head bumping nonstop.
Cherry Bomb isn’t flawless, but it isn’t exactly appalling either. As a whole, the album is unlike anything else to come out of rap this year – or even in recent memory.
With a mature stance on uniqueness, occasionally fascinating genre-bending compositions and sometimes youthful content, the California emcee’s fourth solo effort strays from the previous three – making it less conceptual and rap-focused than Wolf, in addition to being lighter than Bastard and Goblin when it comes to mood.
Tyler, The Creator is happier than he’s been in the past. Cherry Bomb proves it. The album may not fully delight every listener, and it may not be what many expected from him, but it still moulds a distinctive sound from one of the new school’s more popular artists in alternative rap.
Core fans of the Odd Future leader may support the impulsive direction of his new music; however, it’s pretty difficult to say the same for everyone else.