Narrative has always been an important aspect of Tyler, the Creator’s music. From the early Odd Future days until now, he’s evolved from edgy teenager to contemplative musician. Often, for better or worse, his lyrics directly reflected his position on said timeline. His earlier work was crass, relying on a cast of unhinged personalities to express his dark side. The progression from Goblin to Igor showed Tyler was evolving from reckless to refined. Tyler’s heavy-handed embrace of pop, pastels and bugs felt reminiscent of De La Soul’s movement between their first and second albums. Wolf Haley came out the closet and became Flower Boy. While not as innovative as his last outing, Call Me If You Get Lost is just as aware, if not more so than most of his earlier work. On Igor we eagerly followed Tyler on a search for a groovier, breezier territory. It’s no surprise he continues this trend here, albeit with a massive facelift. Recruiting DJ Drama glues everything together. Call Me If You Get Lost is a heartfelt tribute to the Datpiff era, and a catharsis for one of rap’s most controversial figures.
Making this a Gangsta Grillz tape is a calculated risk, one that’s approached conservatively. Khaled could take some notes, as his ad-libs are entirely absent when they aren’t needed. Calculated piano drops and thick 808s keep everything chaotic and bouncy. Inviting trap rappers to this island vacation is another stroke of brilliance. The contrast of Tyler’s comfort and Drama’s perpetually shouted braggadocio is an acquired taste, as is the former’s subject matter. While it’s truly fantastic this emcee has graduated from “kill people, burn shit, fuck school”, he seems incapable of writing a song without mentioning his yacht, passport and multiple Rolls Royce’s.
Although alluring, once the new-boat-smell wares off, the globetrotting gets a little tiresome. The dark wobbly production is fantastic, but the lyrics are downright stagnant at times. “WILSHIRE” has become the conversation piece of the album, and rightfully so. It’s a cold storytelling track that works well in context, it’s hard not to appreciate the honesty. It would be easier to appreciate this left-turn if “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” wasn’t such a chore to finish. Despite this ten-minute hiccup, everything is pristine. Tyler’s lyrics have finally caught up to his commanding voice on the introspective “MASSA”, “I’m not the little boy you were introduced to at 1-9.” If only the album had more cuts like “RISE! Feat. Daisy World”. This smooth Jamie xx-produced jam finds perfect middle-ground between Tyler’s gritty and cloudy sensibilities. Call Me If You Get Lost is an effortlessly catchy re-entry point for an artist who has grown a considerable amount since his debut. Unfortunately, a few sequencing issues make this vacation an aimless affair at times.