When you think of consistently well received album release streaks, one of the foremost contenders in the hip hop community is Tyler Okonma, better known as Tyler, The Creator. With his mature delve into alternative R&B on 2017s “Flower Boy” and the neo soul flavored, emotional storytelling and lo-fi production of 2019s “IGOR,” Okonma’s next sonic direction was a mystery.
But an almost surefire guarantee on his next project was the evolution of Okonma’s lyrical maturity –– with “IGOR” being a compelling story about the beginning, middle and end of a relationship, sharing the intimate ups and downs.
On his minimally advertised release of “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,” Okonma went back to his early 2010s hip hop roots; however, he replaced the edgy and immature lyricism for a 16-track album that contains introspective, smooth jazz rap and modern trap bangers co-produced by hip hop legend DJ Drama.
The jazz elements start with the track “SIR BAUDELAIRE,” featuring flutist Fabian Chavez and DJ Drama’s iconic vocals and producer tagline. Chavez is all over the record, blending his impressive flute performance with blown out bass on the racial commentary track “MASSA” and the lovely saxophone on the nine-minute “WILSHIRE.” The latter song lyrically delves into the story of Okonma dating someone who is already in a relationship with his close friend.
But the prime example of Okonma’s spectacular blend of trap and jazz is “RUNITUP.” This fantastic song lands at the halfway point of the record and is a triumphant collection of brass instruments, synth layers and the insatiably catchy line “We gon’ run it up.”
Then, there’s the aggressive side of the record with soon-to-be party favorites “LUMBERJACK,” “MANIFESTO” and “JUGGERNAUT.” The latter of the three songs features an unlikely combo of emo trap superstar Lil Uzi Vert and production legend Pharrell Williams.
While the aforementioned songs are far from the only bombastic tracks on the record, there are hiccups in the tracklist, with uninspired features from modern trap rappers 42 Dugg and YoungBoy Never Broke Again. The abrupt style changes between tracks like “JUGGERNAUT” into “WILSHIRE” and “RUNITUP” into “MANIFESTO” create moments where the listener can be drawn out of the listening experience.
Thankfully, these moments don’t litter the record, and Okonma’s ability to keep listeners engaged during the two near 10-minute songs “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” and “WILSHIRE” make for impressive displays of songwriting — especially in a genre known for pumping out short-and-sweet tracks that can rack up millions of plays on streaming services.
“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” took a different approach than 2019s “IGOR” and 2017s “Flower Boy,” and Tyler, The Creator created a versatile hip hop record that is guaranteed to have something any hip hop fan can sink their teeth into.