Tyler, the Creator’s newest album takes you on a journey around the world and simultaneously hits way too close to home. Tyler Baudelaire, his latest persona, tells a tale woven with some of his most braggadocious and personal lyrics to date, spat relentlessly over instrumentals from a different musical planet.
A mysterious billboard with the message “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” and the phone number 1-855-444-8888 appeared in Los Angeles earlier this month. Fans on Twitter had all they needed to put the pieces together — a new Tyler, the Creator album was upon us. In the weeks leading up to the album’s release date of June 25, calling the number would play back a few different unfinished snippets of Tyler’s new music, changing every few days. I found something uniquely personal about hearing Tyler rap in my ear over the phone; it was like he left me a voicemail about world travel, cars, clothes and love triangles.
The album is “hosted” by DJ Drama, a DJ from Philadelphia who’s contributed to historic mixtapes from the likes of Lil Wayne and Pharrell Williams and is considered a staple by many in the hip-hop community. Drama yells colorful commentary and ad-libs throughout most of the album, which some fans on Twitter have found annoying, but I found to be a nice touch — on this album, Tyler is spitting way too hard for there not to be a dedicated hype man behind him.
The end result is something refreshingly new, but unmistakably Tyler, as the album takes us through a few musical movements. The opening track, “SIR BAUDELAIRE,” sounds like you’re setting sail to go see the world. Then, there’s an aggressive streak from “CORSO” to “LEMONHEAD” that lets us know Tyler isn’t playing around. The tone switches on the softer-hearted track “WUSYANAME,” containing the most surprisingly melodic NBA YoungBoy feature I’ve ever heard. This song introduces Baudelaire’s love interest, a woman he meets on his travels but later learns is already dating a friend of his, information which doesn’t stop his pursuit of her.
Then, the aggression returns on “LUMBERJACK,” the first single teased from this album. It sounds like sluggish tension held together by Tyler’s unimpressed tone and some of the album’s most dramatic hype man yelling. This is in stark contrast to the next track, “HOT WIND BLOWS,” which sounds like Tyler and Lil Wayne having a best-verse competition over a chill, flute-led soundscape of jazz.
Political messaging lines the tracks “MASSA” and “MANIFESTO” before the vibe changes abruptly with “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE,” a nearly 10-minute love ballad in two parts (the latter half of which sees Tyler’s production dip into some reggae rhythms). This is easily my least favorite track on the album — suffering mostly from poor execution and lack of proper context, Tyler misses more than a few notes in his desperate attempts to sing the first half and I think the overall result sounds totally out of place within this album.
The track “JUGGERNAUT” sounds pretty chill for the first 20 seconds, then sounds like you’re swinging fists on someone in outer space for the remaining two minutes. This is the type of music you play right before you’re about to fight someone, and Tyler’s aggression seems to reach a peak both instrumentally and vocally. “WILSHIRE” is Tyler venting and storytelling for eight minutes straight, but he’s not rambling — he genuinely has something to say the entire time, and some of the lyrics will cut deep if you’ve ever been in a similar relationship situation.
While there’s certainly more I could say about each individual track, reading words about this album only goes so far. “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” is something you truly have to hear to understand, maybe more than once. Tyler clearly wants us to know he never lost his rapping ability or his creativity as a producer — despite what I consider the occasional miss, this album proves both beyond a doubt.
“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” is out now on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and more. Visit callmeifyougetlost.com to make your own travel license (like the one on the album cover), buy merchandise, watch related videos and sign up for updates.