Tyler, the Creator’s new album Call Me If You Get Lost recently came out on June 25th, and is a welcome surprise to his discography. Over his previous two albums – Flower Boy and Igor – it seems as if he has been pushing his musical sensibilities to genres such as pop and soul.
However, Call Me If You Get Lost represents a return to his roots in rap and hip hop. Although, what this album shows is not an artist regressing backwards, but instead an evolution from the rawness of his earlier work along with a more polished visual aesthetic, which forms an important component of the album itself.
Tyler has been teasing Call Me If You Get Lost since early June, by posting interconnected skits and visuals before unveiling the contents of the album. The skits themselves serve as a teaser for the visual aesthetic of the album as a whole, and are both beautifully colourful and also highly absurd.
The best and most defining music video from the album is arguably Lumberjack, which he has since recreated in his BET performance. The music video itself is filled with a sense of whimsy and shot in grainy bright coloured pastel shades, which works to contrast the edges of the otherwise abrasive beat of the song itself.
The outlandish nature of the music video – which contains scenes of Tyler walking against the wind and other seasonal distractions – is different to the pastel romance of the visual aesthetic of his previous album, Igor.
If the music videos of Igor owes to the directorial hand of Luca Guadagnino and French New Wave FIlms, the visual works of Call Me If You Get Lost draws inspiration from the quirkiness of Wes Anderson.
Through the use of symmetry and vintage set decorations, Anderson’s influence can be clearly seen throughout the various offerings in Call Me If You Get Lost’s visuals. Yet, it is often impossible to separate the outlandish quirk of Anderson’s films from Whiteness, as his films have the tendency to center on White characters and narratives.
Thus, by using the careful aesthetic of Anderson’s films in his music videos, Tyler has been able to co-opt Whiteness as an aesthetic and redefine how a rapper is meant to look and sound like.
However, the visual style of the album still contains the absurd trademark of Tyler’s earlier works. One of the most refreshing parts of his journey as an artist is his sense of humour and refusal to take himself too seriously, which is clearly reflected in this album’s visuals as well.
In one of the skits, Brown Sugar Salmon, a conversation between Tyler and a waitress snowballs into an absurd scene of miscommunication and insults. The skit feels partly inspired by Wes Anderson’s comedy of manners The Grand Budapest Hotel, and also partly influenced by the surreal sketches commonly shown on Adult Swim’s comedies such as the Eric Andre show.
This combination of polished artistry and also a refusal to conform to a simplistic and defined genre is exactly the reason why Tyler, the Creator remains as one of music’s biggest enigmas.
As someone who used to be known for his homophobic remarks and has now gone on to create one of the most explicitly queer and romantic music albums, Tyler has always been a musician who is full of surprises, and this album is in no way any different.
We are only halfway through the year – yet one thing is clear – which is that Call Me If You Get Lost is already this year’s contenders for the best album of the year and proof that Tyler, the Creator is here to stay.