After a four month hiatus on social media, Tyler, The Creator dropped his latest effort, Cherry Bomb, with one thing in mind: a tweet. An observer commented that Tyler’s music sounded nothing like any of the musicians he listened to, and it apparently struck a powerful chord with the multifaceted artist. Well-known for his cartoonish personality and violent rhymes, the Odd Future leader offered no inkling of his broad taste in music including acts like Stereolab, Nas and Marvin Gaye.
Though the self-taught producer displayed growth on 2013’s WOLF both sonically and lyrically, his production on Cherry Bomb easily trumps his vintage sound often composed of simple synths and snares.
After engaging in sessions with film composer, Hans Zimmer, his advanced skill set is noticeable as he layers elaborate instrumentation in the project’s opener. “Deathcamp” contains hard bass, hammering guitars and intermittent screams as he pays homage to Rock god Iggy Pop and N.E.R.D. The mellow sequel to “Bimmer,” “2Seater” contains pianos, organs, saxophones and orchestral violins that help detail a romantic drive with his girl before the beat switches into the whimsical “Hairblows.”
He dodges jailbait on “Fucking Young” (a likely nod to Pharrell‘s “Young Girl”) accompanied by Moog synthesizers fit for the legendary Stevie Wonder. “‘Cause girl you’re perfect, but you’re too fucking young/And when temptation calls my phone, I never pick up,” Charlie Wilson croons. “Keep Da O’s” with the aforementioned Skateboard P starts off as intense and piercing, yet somehow evolves into a slow Doo Wop beat that sounds influenced by The Flamingos.
A far cry from his earlier lyrics, “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School,” Tyler’s new thematic incantation, “Find Your Wings” aims to inspire his listeners similar to the way Pharrell’s “You Can Do It Too” spoke to him in his early years. The song is dedicated to discovering and pursuing one’s passion with lyrics like, “The sky’s your home, there’s no limit, you know you gotta/Find your wings.” He harmonizes with frequent collaborator, Kali Uchis, over the beautifully serene Jazz track complete with xylophones and a feature from Roy Ayers.
Crowd favorite “Smuckers” is accompanied by Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West over a brassy beat, and he warns his audience about the glamorization of gang life with ScHoolboy Q and Toro y Moi on the brief, but pungent “Run.” “Lies what they got on their plate, they gon eat you/They got a homie called Karma, he gon meet you,” he delivers rapidly.
The mixing on the album, however, has its flaws with vocals falling victim to the thundering production at times. As a fan of raw and unpolished tracks (see last year’s “Diaper“), listeners are left struggling to discern lyrics as the bass heavy and Yeezus-like synths pulse over the chaotic title track. The outcome, however, still manages to be both melodic and well-suited for his Punk-like performances.
Following the script-like album trilogy centered around a love triangle, Cherry Bomb seems to hint at Tyler’s upcoming film debut, WOLF, which was announced in 2013 after he shared the colorful trailer via Twitter. The end of the lust-driven “Blow My Load” contains a GOLF Radio contest giving away tickets to a triple feature movie with a censored one-syllable title. A skit reveals him killing time before a film begins at Moon Theatres, and the album ends with the line, “It’s about to start,” as the unworldly “OKAGA, CA” laced with vocals from Leon Ware singing, “Let’s got the Moon,” comes to a close. His stunning visuals for “Fucking Young” also incorporate cinema scenes and a large Moon Theatres marquee (4:41 mark).
A well-executed fusion of musical genres, Cherry Bomb, shows exceptional maturation, remarkable range and fearlessness choosing to harmonize instead of rap on multiple tracks. It dazzles with its rich production, few samples and upbeat content that may leave hardcore fans yearning for Tyler’s trademark angst, but could potentially land him more album placements. At 24, Tyler’s startling progression in a two year time frame has already surpassed some of his predecessors’ beat making techniques, and it will be utterly intriguing to witness how advanced his artistry will eventually become.