By Elizabeth He
Tyler, The Creator released CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST in late June this year, and yet was teasing this album’s concept long before anyone could recognize it. About a year ago on Instagram and Twitter, his bio read “cookie crumbs in the rolls” – which is now revealed as the first line in this album. At the 2020 Grammy Awards, Tyler walked the red carpet in his millennial pink Bellhop uniform with his suitcase carrying his outfit change. At the time, this may have appeared to be a Grammy night’s aesthetic choice, but in actuality was Tyler extending an invitation to embark on a new journey in his new era.
“SIR BAUDELAIRE (feat. DJ Drama)” sets the scene with “the sun beamin’” in Geneva, Switzerland. The laidback sway of the notes eases the ears into the album, and the bass clarinet layer adds another dimension to the warmth already established. The playful jingle motif hits in the last few seconds, with the phrase “Call me if you lost”. Tyler then introduces his new pseudonym for this album’s saga – Tyler Baudelaire, a reference to the French poet Charles Baudelaire.
Tyler dives straight into the intensity of his emotions in “CORSO”. Contrasting with Tyler’s verses, the breaks by DJ Drama are brief moments of breaths in a song that emotionally spirals. When the heavy bass kick drops, Tyler just goes and keeps going. Yet, when DJ Drama comes in with his lines, the music morphs into a groovy and fun dynamic. In the middle of this song is the first time that Tyler mentions the situation with his friend’s girlfriend in this album. Clearly, the lyrics convey his heartbreak and anger towards the situation. “CORSO” is like a wave with a very large amplitude.
“LEMONHEAD (feat. 42 Dugg)” carries the intensity with the addition of horns – a full blast of everything brass. The sub-bass in this song is reminiscent of the sub-bass in Tyler’s 2018 single “OKRA”, with the driving line and overlying distortion. The last 25 seconds are so similar to the “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING” interlude from IGOR. In both, Tyler speaks as if he is on the other end of a phone call. For “LEMONHEAD” specifically, Frank Ocean sings the “Call on me if you get lost” motif while Tyler speaks.
Those 25 seconds transition seamlessly into “WUSYANAME (feat. Youngboy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign)”. The vocal riffs and drums truly make this song a R&B bop. The high frequency synths create a cute and endearing atmosphere. “WUSYANAME” is the embodiment of the butterflies and excitement of a crush in the early stages. The love story saga continues here. Tyler falls in love, but then discovers this woman is already taken.
“LUMBERJACK” is hard. The dissonance of all the instruments combined is ominous and dark. Tyler raps calmly, which is a brilliant contrast to the grandeur of sound backing him. Tyler explained at Lollapalooza the backstory of his lyrics for this song. He drove to Utah on a roadtrip in his new car and stopped at a Starbucks. An old White lady then asked him, “What kind of car is that?” Though, her delivery had a “you are not supposed to have that” type of tone. Thus, the first line of “LUMBERJACK” is “Rolls-Royce pull up, Black boy hop out”, and Tyler keeps boasting about his wealth calmly throughout the song.
Likewise, in “HOT WIND BLOWS (feat. Lil Wayne)”, Tyler continues to show off his luxurious lifestyle in a pretty fashion. The instrumentals along with the sample from Penny Goodwin’s “Slow Hot Wind” paint a beautiful sunny summer day, driving along a stretch of a lake. The whistling synth flourishes, the syncopation of the drum cymbal, the flute runs, and the piano licks weave in and out of each other. The instruments dance together in this jazzy concoction.
“MASSA” is Tyler’s poetic release about his evolution through his career and his experience as a Black man. The song’s title draws from the Southern mispronunciation of the word “master” by enslaved African Americans from the era of slavery in the United States. This historical reference in conjunction with Tyler’s success forms a juxtaposition between the different eras within Black history. As the song progresses, Tyler’s tone shifts from a relaxed flow to an intense revelation.
The brass instruments return in “RUNITUP (feat. Teezo Touchdown)”. The energy and bounce within this song matches Tyler’s confidence within himself to the point where his confidence is infectious. In one verse, Tyler urges people to chase and “run” after their dreams as he did by being unapologetically his true self.
In “MANIFESTO (feat. Domo Genesis)”, Tyler raps about cancel culture and his controversial past.
“SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (feat. Brent Faiyaz & Fana Hues)” is the best song off of this album and furthermore is the best song Tyler has yet created. Tyler follows his tradition of placing two songs in the tenth track in each of his albums. The “call me when you get lost” motif is sung in the beginning of the song. The running synth in the intro is reminiscent of the synth run at the end of “RUNNING OUT OF TIME” from IGOR. “SWEET” is so sweet, cute, and groovy with the bright synth lead, and the instrumental bridge is lucious with the key sweeps. The transition into “I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” is seamless. “Call me when you get lost” is spoken in French. The blaring airhorn is jarring, but calls attention to the wonderful music that is about to be unleashed. Fana Hues’s voice is meant for this song. To follow the storyline of Tyler’s situation with the girl, Fana’s verse represents the girl’s point of view about their connection. The chant at the end winds down and gives the song closure. Tyler also implements genius pieces of ear candy by blatantly speaking when the song is about to transition into different sections. For example, he would plainly say “bridge” right before the bridge and “chant” right before the chant. This is the first reggae song Tyler has written, and he created nine minutes of pure heaven in audiowave form. These two movements are bops for the beach meant to be enjoyed with a complementary piña colada.
Tyler features his mother’s voice in “MOMMA TALK”, and her voice memo shows how protective Louisa Whitman is of her son. The instrumentation that accompanies her voice is light and playful with the bounce of a harpsichord-like synth and the flute improvisation.
Louisa’s voice memo transitions into the groove of “RISE! (feat. DAISY WORLD)”. Tyler repeats the line “Please don’t go, please just stay”, which is similar to “Please don’t leave me” from “NEW MAGIC WAND” and “Don’t leave, it’s my fault” from “EARFQUAKE” in his previous album IGOR. Like prior songs off of this album, this one is about Tyler’s success and self confidence. DAISY WORLD’s vocal lines carve and trace the instrumental lines harmoniously.
In the interlude “BLESSED”, Tyler expresses how grateful he is for all the opportunities he has been given. He also mentions how he is grateful for his health and the health of his loved ones, which is a lovely life aspect to be grateful for. Yet again, the flute adds warmth and happiness to the interlude.
“JUGGERNAUT (feat. Lil Uzi & Pharrell Williams)” opens in a laid back manner, but then abruptly changes into a bass-heavy distortion similar to many of Tyler’s tracks from his album Cherry Bomb. Tyler is incredibly intentional with creating moments within his songs, and his stylistic choices of ear candy builds these moments in time. On an album that is named CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, he inserts phone ringing trills within “JUGGERNAUT”. Additionally, the expansion of the siren builds tension until the beat relaxes.
“WILSHIRE” is Tyler’s Taylor Swift song. This eight-and-a-half minute track tells the chronicle of his failed relationship with his friend’s girlfriend. The lyrics are poetry, and the details within each verse read like a scene out of a William Shakespeare play. Time is an illusion with this song. The monotonous beat lulls the ears into a hypnotic state and focuses attention primarily on the words and storyline.
The album closes with “SAFARI”, which references the themes of traveling and seeing the world. The horns make the song joyous and bright, and the strings add the warmth of sun. The music is expansive and concludes the album like a drone ascending into the sky, zooming out and revealing a birds-eye shot of the landscape as a whole.
CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST excels in its variety of sound and structure. Each song is unique while still weaving in the common themes and motifs of success, heartbreak, and travel. This album demonstrates Tyler’s evolution in composition, production, and singing. The songs as a collective are the perfect fusion of the warmth from Flower Boy and the expansiveness from Cherry Bomb. Overall, Tyler seems to be thriving and happy. I hope he adopts a pet soon.
Best Song: “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE”
Best Moment: @4:44 in “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE”