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There are perhaps two ways a listener can come to approach Tyler The Creator’s maturation over the last two albums — as he eases his way into an elder statesman role for the generation of blog rap he created — without being skeptical about his evolution.
One is to have been a Tyler The Creator, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All fan from the time you were ten, ardently following his every move with something like hero worship. He could do no wrong, mostly because you didn’t know better. Or, you knew better and argued, like he did, that everyone else needed to chill out.
The other is the way I did: By staying cool on Tyler until he managed to grow up. He partially did so on 2017’s Flower Boy, which was more enjoyable for the simple reason that it was unencumbered by the ridiculous baggage of his early rise to stardom. Just because a child throws a tantrum in Target, that shouldn’t be a commentary on how they’ll handle college.
On Igor, it seems Tyler finally comes of age. It’s not an album about the angst of adolescence or the anger of young adulthood. He’s nearly past all that, and better for it. Where Flower Boy contained Tyler’s first halting steps into genuine maturity and vulnerability, Igor is Tyler pushing all his chips to the center of the table, showing his cards, and coming up aces. While it’s not perfect — shadows of the old Tyler remain — it’s miles away from his mercurial beginnings and seems to point to a smarter, gentler — or at least more subtly devious — Tyler The Creator.
Igor is also one of Tyler’s weirdest and most experimental albums yet. In fact, restricting the elaborate, organic sound of this project to just one category or genre would be insultingly reductive. Despite Tyler’s origin and usual classification as a rapper, Igor owes as much of its inspirational DNA to psych-rockers like Pink Floyd as it does rhyme pranksters such as Biz Markie or Kanye West, who makes a surprise, freewheeling appearance here on “Puppet.”