“I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. To me, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word. Why can’t we just be in pop?” Those are the famous words Tyler, The Creator muttered after he accepted his GRAMMY award for Best Rap Album for IGOR. Tyler may have shook the world when he said it, but not to his fans. They are used to his brutal honesty and have always known that his music was never your standard hip-hop.
Because in a lot of ways, Tyler, The Creator is nothing like your average rapper. If hip-hop is not merely a music genre but a subculture and art movement; so is he. A true auteur at heart, Tyler produces all of his own music and music videos, owns Golf Radio and fashion label Golf le Fleur; all equal parts as loud and irreverent as his personality.
And although he is compared with “early evil Eminem” with his lyrics in his debut album Goblin (both widely thought to have racist, misogynistic and homophobic overtones), Tyler seems to open up to his sexuality multiple times in his fourth release Flower Boy. “Next line will have ’em like, ‘Whoa’ / I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004” and “I’m looking for ‘95 Leo”, all whilst featuring a young Leonardo Dicaprio poster and actual teen lookalike in his video ‘Who Dat Boy’. Tyler’s gradual outward expression of his sexuality is what fans believe have shifted his musical style, away from his early horrorcore notoriety to softer R&B and jazz influences.
If you can stomach it, take a listen to songs “Yonkers”, “Radicals” and “Transylvania” in Goblin. Sound textures are dark and gritty, Tyler’s voice gruff and deep, spitting lyrics that are depraved and despicable; often depicting violence against women, attacks on gay men or encouraging youthful over-the-top rebellion. Despite this, Tyler won over critics for its masterfully crafted concept and production, and won over fans such as Kanye himself.
Fast forward to fourth album Flower Boy, and we’re looking at a softer Tyler who seemed way more vulnerable. Loneliness is a recurring theme; spoken so often it sounds like a cry for help. (“And if I drown and don’t come back / Who’s gonna know?”) and (“Bored and getting desperate as hell / Cellular not amusing and I hope someone will / Message me with some plans that are amusing as well). Musically, it was summer. Lush and smooth, Tyler really knows how to paint a picture of a lost flower boy amidst the strings, soft brass and soul crooning.
You can see the transformation very clearly in these graphs, and how the moods in each album change over time. These are charted by taking Tyler’s entire discography and running it through our AI to analyse each song’s overall mood.
Notice the huge drop in negative moods such as ‘Powerful’, ‘Dark’ and the spike in more the neutral and positive ‘Romantic’, ‘Relaxed’ moods from Goblin, and peaks at Flower Boy. Cherry Bomb contains more ‘Angry’ due to its rap-rock leanings.
All that experimentation comes full circle on his fifth album IGOR. Not only was he finally rewarded with a GRAMMY (after having 2 previous nominations), he seemed to have struck a balance with his music. Between light and darkness, IGOR carries the same soul-tinged tunes from his later albums, but underlined with harsh distorted vocals and heavy industrial sounds. Conceptually where Flower Boy is about self-discovery, IGOR follows Tyler’s love story with an alluded closeted man.
This exercise is only one example of how mood changes can be charted across albums using our tagging API. From creating playlist from a singular seed track (Queen – ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’) to charting genre changes in artist (Lady Gaga), precision tagging does the heavy lifting of individual song analysis so you can focus on the big picture analysis: maybe you’re a sync music company and need to see if you are low or missing any moods in your catalogue. Try this out in our latest Musiio App (app.musiio.com) or our demo on www.musiio.com.