Album review: “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” explores chaos of introspection
(Courtesy of Columbia Records)
“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST”
Tyler, The Creator
Released June 25
By Kanishka Mehra
June 25, 2021 3:42 p.m.
When Tyler, The Creator wrote “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,” he left the caps lock on.
The Los Angeles native rapper and musician’s latest rhythmically diverse, 16-track lineup jigsaws together the beloved parts of his older music at the risk of sacrificing the album’s cohesiveness. “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” is Tyler, The Creator’s sixth studio album, preceded by 2019 Grammy Award-winning “IGOR.” In a similar fashion to BROCKHAMPTON and JPEGMAFIA’s latest albums, it embraces a variety of lyrical formats, from melodic wordplay to explicit storytelling.
The title of the opening song, “SIR BAUDELAIRE,” refers to Tyler, The Creator’s alter ego who brags about his success so casually that it sounds as if he’s making light of his own fame-driven apathy. The track foreshadows a best-of-everything album, with the instrumental verbosity of the artist’s 2017 album “Flower Boy,” flashy production value of “IGOR” and introductory brevity of his 2013 album “Wolf.”
By using homonyms in a handful of songs, Tyler, The Creator doesn’t just deliver a few catchy bars, but rather an ode to his journey as a musician. In the second track, “CORSO,” he raps “Cookie crumbs in the rolls, never no weed crumbs,” in reference to both the luxury of spilling food crumbs in his Rolls Royce and his decision to abstain from using drugs. Similarly, the lyrics “Whips on whips, my ancestors got they backs out” from “LUMBERJACK” oscillate between references to being Black and materialistic gain.
As “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” progresses, Tyler, The Creator’s verses continue to repackage his iconic sounds from over the years. Produced with bursts of energetic anecdotes, synthetic instrumental beats and lyrics that expose the artist’s conflicting appreciation for luxury and resistance to wealth, the album functions as a continuation of his older songs, but with a raw, positive twist. His latest work is unpredictable from song to song, yet devoid of surprise as a whole.
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Tyler, The Creator’s choice of artists is likely the biggest surprise on the album, as he has primarily collaborated with more alternative artists in the past. With songs like “WUSYANAME” that feature disparate artists like YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign together, none of the features on the album steal the thunder away from Tyler, The Creator himself. Instead, the collaborative songs on the album function as spaces for conjunctive and disjunctive storytelling rather than as a fusion of musical abilities.
At a colossal nine minutes and 48 seconds, “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE,” symbolizes a slow shift into the second, more humble half of the album. Despite being sewn together by jubilant instrumentals and seamless production, the track can be broken down into three distinct pieces: one for each collaborating artist. Knowing Tyler, The Creator’s dedication to characterizing individuality in his previous albums, preserving each artist’s sound may have been a deliberate symbol of championing creative autonomy.
But in terms of musical range, the real collaboration on the album takes place within Tyler, The Creator’s own internal monologues on solo tracks like “MASSA” and “WILSHIRE.” On the former, he considers how his music mirrors the situations in his life, noticing the real luxury is knowing what brings him happiness. By the time the listener gets to the second-longest track on the album, “WILSHIRE,” Tyler, The Creator seems to better understand his longing for love – which causes the internal conflicts he can’t solve with money. Both songs are lyrically introspective and freestyled over jazzy drum beats to signal a contemplative state of the artist’s mind.
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As Tyler, The Creator uses this album as an opportunity to reflect on his musical trajectory, he refers to his mother as a motivation for his success in “MASSA,” saying, “Mom was in the shelter when ‘Yonkers’ dropped, I don’t say it/ When I got her out, that’s the moment I knew I made it.” In the minute-long whimsical interlude “MOMMA TALK,” listeners can hear his own mother, Louisa Whitman, promising to protect him from anyone who tries to cause him harm. The artist’s decision to include the clip in an album of introspective tracks highlights how important their bond is for Tyler, The Creator, as he also brought his mother on stage when he won a Grammy Award for “IGOR.”
In its 52-minute duration, “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” takes the listener on a trek through Tyler, The Creator’s mind. The journey features a conflict for every listener, whether it’s apathy toward earned fortune in “BLESSED,” confessions about platonic love in “WILSHIRE” or responding to performative racial criticisms in “MANIFESTO.”
For an album about finding oneself, “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” sounds just as chaotically introspective as one would expect. If a listener does get lost, however, they know who to call.