The evolution in Tyler the Creator’s style is what has solidified his status as one of the best musicians of our time, and Wolf is where we first see his potential and ability flourish. Wolf is a personal, honest piece of work which moves through a broad medley of moods, all portrayed super accurately. As far as a first refined album goes, Wolf was a classic.
What separates Wolf from Tyler’s first two albums Bastard and Goblin is the quality of the musicality. Before Wolf, Tyler was known for his shock factor in lyricism and grungy, unmixed way with instrumentals; however, with this album he made it blatant that his talent exceeded our expectations of him.
The songs “Awkward” and “48” are two of eighteen examples that prove Tyler the Creator’s capability to produce music that can entice any age or gender effortlessly. Alongside his ability to compose instrumental music Tyler has successfully slipped in and out of genres with ease, which is seen throughout the album. Songs can be plucked at random and be used as examples, from “Slater” to “Answer” to “Pigs”.
However, what made Wolf such a stand out project among so many other concept albums is Tyler the Creator’s use of characters to explore different moods and thoughts; all played by himself and accompanied by Odd Future and friends. The interactions between ‘Sam’ and ‘Wolf’, the psychotherapist ‘Dr TC’ and the rest of Odd Future made the album as interesting as a book or a movie.
A consistent narrative ran through Tyler’s first three albums between himself and his conscience, allowing him to shatter any boundaries concerning the subjects he wanted to talk about, whether it was obsession (“IFHY”), anxiety (“Awkward”) or anger (“Pigs”). Giving himself characters is a genius way of wholly conveying a range of different feelings, making his music limitless.
Another noteworthy aspect of the album was the level of maturity Tyler showed, subject wise, instrumentally and lyrically. Unlike Goblin and Bastard, which were loosely put into the genre of horrorcore due to the numerous references to rape and murder, Wolf was focused more introspectively, looking at his loneliness, relationships with his friends and father, and the death of his grandmother.
The manner in which Tyler the Creator approached the third album in a trilogy of concept projects, that started so dark, made it feel complete; with the song “Answer” opening up about his take on growing up without a father, to “Lone” describing the passing on of his grandmother in depth and detail. Wolf opened the eyes of Tyler’s earlier fan base by being honest and intimate, a side that he hadn’t shown before.
The songs that personally stand out to me from the album would be “Slater”, “Bimmer” and the three-track combination from “Pigs” to “Rusty”. The production of “Slater” and “Bimmer” make them instant classics to me, the tracks are so in sync with Tyler’s lyricism it’s hard not to enjoy them through.
“Bimmer” is part of its own three track mix made up of “Party Isn’t Over” and “Campfire”, which could be the only point of the album which drags slightly, but the build-up to “Bimmer” is what makes it so special to me.
As for “Pigs”, “Parking Lot” and “Rusty”, as well as the striking production, they perfectly manifest into a climax in the story Tyler’s telling. The outro on “Parking Lot”, and start and end of “Rusty”, set the mood so clearly it feels like you’re watching scenes from a movie; Tyler’s choice of samples and sounds all serve their purposes and have ever since.
Tyler The Creator’s Wolf was released on April 2, 2013 via Odd Future Records purchase it on iTunes here, and stream it on Spotify below.
Words by Jackson dos Santos