“Igor” continues the incremental evolution of hip-hop’s best punk rocker Tyler the Creator.
The Loneliest Crooner
Hip-hop’s place at the center of American music has been well documented. Songs like “Black Beatles” and genre-bending albums like “Yeezus” and “Astroworld” confirm that hip-hop is currently at its most malleable.
The culture has always been about recycling the past and turning it into something new. Enter stage left Tyler the Creator in a teal pantsuit performing on a television show that is equal parts “Between Two Ferns” and “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”
If “Flower Boy” is the album on which Tyler became fully comfortable (read: less angry) then “Igor” is the album on which he roams around in that comfort. He wears a blonde wig, busts out Chuck-Berry-inspired dance moves and continues to live in his eccentricity without having to offend people.
Meanwhile the Tyler themes you know and love are there. He’s lonely, he wants love and he seeks companionship. He’s just not angry about it anymore. He is, however, willing to plead with his love. On “Earfquake” he and Charlie Wilson croon “Don’t leave, it’s my fault.” On the final track, he tries to salvage the relationship by asking, “Are we still friends?”
Horror imagery has always been a Tyler staple. In his earlier work, this meant bloody lyrics and horrorcore antics. The evolved Tyler creates a monster alter ego, Igor.
Igor himself isn’t a monster, but society more or less treats him like one. He is discarded, ostracized and ultimately only fit to do the bidding of his master (Dr. Frankenstein being the most famous of these masters). Although Igor isn’t a monster, his name immediately invokes gothic horror and the archetypal outcast, two of Tyler’s favorite themes.
As always Tyler’s genuine emotion comes across in his music and resonates with his audience. The result is a number one album for the outcast. And with that “Igor” is ready to step out of the basement laboratory and into the light.