With rumors circulating about Tyler coming out on his new album, Flower Boy, thanks to a late night leak on Reddit, listeners can’t help speculating about his orientation and dissecting his lyrics to determine new meaning behind his words.
On the other hand, some listeners are less surprised and more interested in whether or not Tyler continues to create music that they can relate to. With his new song, “Boredom,” released today, they may lay any fears they had to rest.
Featuring vocals from British singers Rex Orange County and Corinne Bailey Rae (!), the song definitely taps into the ennui of the mid-twenties, when real life hits and we all find ourselves a bit adrift. “Bored and getting desperate as hell / Cellular not amusing and I hope someone will / Message me with some plans that are amusing as well,” Tyler complains on the track over his signature break beat sample and soulful keyboard, reflecting the loneliness of a day off with all his friends occupied elsewhere.
However, with the “early release” of Flower Boy, fans are now finding interesting new interpretations. Where some would read into “Boredom” the results of the so-called “quarter-life crisis,” when all our friends go out and get jobs, the relatively busy life of school is over, and prospects seem dim thanks to the current direction of the job market and the economy, others see more more heartbreaking reasons behind Tyler’s friends’ absence.
Some Genius users have posted theories that Tyler’s friends have abandoned him due to his recent coming out, reading a more depressing interpretation into what would have been read as a simple lament of, well, boredom just a week ago. Tyler’s own lyrics may support this theory, as he even states, “My friends suck, f*ck ’em, I’m over ’em / ‘Hi ya’ll, ya’ll ain’t hit me all day / What the f*ck is the problem? Is it me? / ‘Cause I’m not solved, I’m… bored.”
It’s an interesting look into how our interpretation of music evolves with our understanding of the circumstances of an artists life and their process. Just look at Jay-Z, whose confessional 4:44 sparked a much more enthusiastic reaction than its immediate predecessor, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Music fans — including hip-hop heads — don’t just want to be entertained by artists anymore; they want to be entertained, and relate to their favorite artists. Where previous generations were defined by technical virtuoso or cartoon caricature presentation, in the streaming era it seems that fans want to feel like an artist could be someone they’d want to talk to, develop a rapport with, and just hang around.
When an artist like Tyler pivots the way he appears to have with Flower Boy, going from internet prankster and provocateur to revealing the shy, lonely, “desperate” kid he always was, it endears him to his early fans, as well as opens up the possibility of reaching new ears, evidenced by his single “Who Dat Boy” debuting higher on the Billboard Hot 100 higher than any of his previous joints at #87.
“Boredom” shows that Flower Boy just may turn out to be Tyler’s biggest release ever, not just from curious ears tuning in to out if there’s any truth behind the hype, but because those curious listeners just might find something there worth coming back to, now that he’s dropped the tricks and starting getting real.