Tyler, the Creator and the now-defunct Odd Future set out to change the world of rap music with their rowdy live shows and early mixtapes like Tyler's macabre Bastard, and they were successful, but Tyler actually made his best album yet by toning things down: 2019's IGOR. Tyler began his evolution towards a more melodic, soulful sound on 2015's Cherry Bomb and even more so on 2017's Flower Boy, but IGOR made the full leap. It was simultaneously some of his most experimental and some of his most accessible music yet, and definitely his most melodic. It's not even really a rap album.

IGOR found Tyler leaning most heavily into his singing and his production work, but he quickly reminded the world that Tyler, the Rapper wasn't gone forever. The following year, he showed up with vicious guest verses on albums from Freddie Gibbs, Westside Gunn, and Lil Yachty. Now Tyler follows IGOR with Call Me If You Get Lost, and it finds him fusing the melodic experimentation of IGOR with his continued knack for clear, aggressive rapping. It's nice to hear Tyler rapping on his own music again, after spending a year using other people's records to remind us how good of a rapper he is, but Call Me If You Get Lost isn't a return to form or anything; Tyler is still evolving.

Most of the songs are short, except the two epics that pass the eight and nine minute marks, the album's structured like a song cycle where each track flows right into the next. Tyler continues to be an inventive producer, filling the album with maximalist horn arrangements, psychedelic passages, well-picked samples (like Westside Gunn's "Michael Irvin" on the first track), and much more, and proving -- as he did on IGOR -- that production may actually be his biggest strength. Tyler dropped two songs ahead of the album's release ("LUMBERJACK" and "WUSYANAME"), and if they felt small or minor, it's only because they're best heard in the context of the album. These are not -- to reference an album by his onetime Odd Future groupmate Earl Sweatshirt -- some rap songs. It's one grand piece of music broken up into 16 tracks.

Tyler's voice is a lot more prominent and in the forefront on this album than it was on IGOR, but he ropes in some key collaborators too. Almost every track is peppered with ad-libs from DJ Drama, and there are standout appearances from up and coming Detroit rapper 42 Dugg on "LEMONHEAD," Lil Wayne on "HOT WIND BLOWS," Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell on "JUGGERNAUT," R&B singers Brent Faiyaz and Fana Hues on the nearly-10-minute "SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE," and more. And it's a minor role, but Frank Ocean shows up at the end of "LEMONHEAD."

Like IGOR, Call Me If You Get Lost is a dense album. It's impressive on first listen but it already seems like the kind of album that requires multiple listens to unpack its many layers. But a couple things are already for sure: the album is like nothing else in Tyler's discography, and Tyler has come a long, long way as an artist. The "Yonkers" video celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year, and looking back on that era of Tyler's career, it was already clear that he was a true original, but it would've been nearly impossible to predict he'd be making music like Call Me If You Get Lost a decade later.

Call Me If You Get Lost is out now on A Boy With A Gun/Columbia. Stream it below.

 

Tracklist
1. SIR BAUDELAIRE
2. CORSO
3. LEMONHEAD (Feat. 42 Dugg)
4. WUSYANAME (Feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign)
5. LUMBERJACK
6. HOT WIND BLOWS (Feat. Lil Wayne)
7. MASSA
8. RUNITUP (Feat. Teezo Touchdown)
9. MANIFESTO (Feat. Domo Genesis)
10. SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (Feat. Brent Faiyaz & Fana Hues)
11. MOMMA TALK
12. RISE! (Feat. DAISY WORLD)
13. BLESSED
14. JUGGERNAUT (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert & Pharrell Williams)
15. WILSHIRE
16. SAFARI