Tyler Gregory Okonma, better known as Tyler, the Creator, has enjoyed a rapid career evolution over the last decade. He started as a brash teenager, gaining attention with his provocative lyrics for hip hop crew Odd Future. Along the way, he’s toned down the controversy and enhanced his skills as a producer. 2017’s Flower Boy was a critical favourite, and Igor continues Tyler’s hot streak.
Igor documents a love triangle between Tyler, Tyler’s boyfriend, and Tyler’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Comedian Jerrod Carmichael provides narration.
While Tyler started as a rapper, there’s as much soul and R&B on Igor. Tyler’s the only credited producer on Igor, and he’s like a mad scientist, blending and hopping between genres; the title Igor, referencing Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant, is perfect and fitting. It’s filled with vintage synth sounds, skittery beats, and surprising twists.
There’s plenty happening on standout track ‘A Boy Is A Gun*’ even without Tyler’s vocal – there’s jazzy piano, Solange’s backing vocals, and sample from ‘Bound’, a #47 hit for Ponderosa Twins Plus One in 1971. Tyler’s terse vocals are a jarring contrast with the track’s lushness.
Lead single ‘Earfquake’ was initially offered to Justin Bieber, while Rihanna was asked to provide backing vocals. Both refused, and the song was retained by Tyler. ‘Earfquake’ injects a lovely melody with raw immediacy.
The six minutes of ‘Gone, Gone / Thank You’ are often gorgeous, especially the cascading synths that cap off ‘Thank You’.
Even if you’re not usually a hip hop fan, it’s worth spending time with Igor to witness a talented auteur creating an idiosyncratic blend of hip hop, funk, and soul.