“I don’t even like using the word ‘bitch’,” Tyler, the Creator grumbles on the outro for “Corso”. “It just sounded cool.” On Call Me If You Get Lost, the California rapper’s sixth album, he offers a glimpse at yet another side of his multifaceted persona. This time, it’s Tyler Baudelaire. This eccentric character’s introduction at the beginning of the record sets off a series of unfortunate events, from heartbreak (“Corso”) to, er, more heartbreak (“Wilshire”).
The transitions between tracks are magnificent, each outro sliding virtually undetected into the next track. CMIYGL’s predecessor, the Grammy-winning 2019 albumIGOR, delighted in making you stumble, leading you staggering round a maze full of hidden pitfalls. This record is seamless. Synths loop and swirl dizzily on “Sweet/I Thought You Wanted to Dance”, a squelchy slow-jam where Brent Faiyez sings in his best Thundercat croon.
Much of this album feels like the apotheosis of all Tyler’s past works. You have the hostility, the sinister haunted house beats of 2011’s Goblin on “Lumberjack”. There’s a swipe at white performative wokeness on “Manifesto” that recalls the scorn of 2013’s “Pigs”, from Wolf. And the innovative use of guest stars such as YoungBoy Never Broke Again on “Wusyaname" follows the same unorthodox approach as his full-to-bursting 2015 album, Cherry Bomb. “Wilshire” is an astounding stream-of-consciousness, a nine-minute epic about falling for someone unavailable: “It’s lines I could never cross/ But you got something that make all them good intentions get lost.”
While the production here is as slick as IGOR, though, there’s less of a through line. IGOR was the devastating pieced-together parts of a broken relationship. CMIYGL plays fast and loose with its subjects, relying instead on the music itself to carry listeners through. I love the flute motif that crops up here and there, finally on closer “Safari”, like the soundtrack to a classic poolside scene in a 007 movie. Tyler, the Creator continues to defy expectations. Long may that continue.