‘Cherry Bomb’ fizzles

Tyler, the Creator’s latest suffers from poor mixing, bland songwriting


Fair use image from Odd Future Records

Tyler, the Creator’s latest release ‘Cherry Bomb’ aims to be a break from the Odd Future mold, but comes off as uninspired and boring.

Conor Battles, Editor-in-Chief, Arts & Entertainments Editor

At only 24, Tyler, the Creator is in a position few others his age can claim to be in.

As the figurehead behind the Odd Future brand, an eclectic mix of a record label, a merchandising giant, and a multimedia platform, Tyler has made an unparalleled splash in the music world since his rapid ascent to fame in 2010. He commands a fanbase whose unwavering loyalty recalls the peak days of Beatlemania, and by 2013’s Wolf he had cemented himself as the ultimate success story of the Internet-rap crowd.

So why is he still so angry?

Half of Cherry Bomb, his latest release which dropped unexpectedly this past month, is unrelentingly aggressive. The colorful, summery production of Wolf has been largely scrapped, giving way to an aggressive, punky sound that is as inviting as it is offputting. The other half, however, is a surprisingly smooth Pharrell-esque ride that laces the album with an unexpected touch of elegance.

The shock value Tyler relied on so heavily in the early days of Odd Future is brought to its natural conclusion on Cherry Bomb. Hardcore punk, Death Grips-esque experimental hip-hop, and Gravediggaz horrorcore are all palpable influences on tracks like “Buffalo,” “Pilot,” and “Keep Da O’s.” It’s an angry, startling blend, and he works it to his advantage.

More interesting than the typical angry Tyler fare on Cherry Bomb are the smooth tracks. “Find Your Wings,” “2Seater,” and “Okaga, CA” are some of the most surprisingly soulful songs Tyler’s ever released, and show a different side to the profane prankster image that he has cultivated for so long.

The glaring fault that pervades nearly all of the album’s 13 tracks is the mixing. Tyler’s vocals are drowned out by some of the more loud, violent production, rendering some verses entirely incomprehensible. The title track in particular, a blisteringly heavy beat over muddled vocals, leaves listeners straining to understand a word under the intense beat.

Ultimately, the dullest thing about the album is Tyler himself. A sizable roster of guest features is a new wrinkle to Tyler’s tried formula, and it does add quite a bit to the album, but it has the unfortunate effect of making his own work pale in comparison. ScHoolboy Q is in rare form on “The Brownstains,” and Tyler’s verse on the track looks worse for it. Kanye West and Lil Wayne’s verses on “Smuckers” are some of the strongest either has dropped in years, while Tyler’s just doesn’t match up.

Increasingly, it seems that Tyler is most comfortable behind the scenes, putting his production at the forefront and focusing less on his verses. The idiosyncratic gravelly voice that anchored past smashes like “Yonkers” and “IFHY” takes a backseat on Cherry Bomb.

Cherry Bomb is an eclectic blend. From the choked-out, stuttering punk guitar on “Deathcamp” to Soulquarians R&B on “F***ing Young,” there’s a lot to take in. If this is the place Tyler wants to be in his career, acting primarily as a producer and letting better artists shine, then he has a way to go before he hits his stride.