Album Review: Tyler, The Creator – Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch

By Kwase Lane, Contributor
[Columbia; 2018]
Rating: 8/10

Key tracks: “Hot Chocolate”, “Big Bag”, “When Gloves Come Off”

Tyler, The Creator’s latest EP is the Christmas miracle that no one knew they wanted until it came. During this most festive of seasons, many artists get overtaken by the all-consuming spirit of wintertide when they decide to make a holiday album. Thankfully, this project is more Tyler than Christmas. The pieces on this EP are strangely delicate. It’s like he’s trying to capture the image of a single, snow-covered flower as opposed to his previous project, which captured a sunflower-crowded meadow. Even still, Tyler finds a way to drop seeds in this snowy field, and boy do they take root.

Read more: Movie Review: The Grinch

Tyler has already blessed internet browsers with the perfect procedure for making waffles, and he’s back again to educate the masses in the ways of warm winter beverages. “Hot Chocolate” is about as shallow lyrically as the title makes it seem, but the track is beautifully complex without feeling cluttered. Tyler’s cartoonish rasp is laid over an eerie choir backing before he goes into his hot chocolate tips. The mysterious mood is supported by Jerry Paper’s following vocals, but the subject matter is relatable and simple. Even still, Tyler and Paper find a way to make what should be a WikiHow article into a December jam.

“Big Bag” is easily the least Christmas-y song on the project. Tyler returns to a familiar style with strong percussion that supports the listener’s weight when they lean back into the sound. Even when the drums fade out, his voice provides enough intrigue to keep listeners locked in. His rough delivery is only made more crunchy when compared to the polished, fluid backing underneath. The two clashing vibes mingle to create an outstanding banger about everybody’s favorite fat man clad in red.

“When Gloves Come Off” is almost entirely devoid of vocals. This is far from a bad thing, as the track still feels complex and worthy of the listener’s time. Tyler did an excellent job of removing himself from the equation while still signing his name at the bottom of this auditory painting. Anyone could turn this on at a holiday party, and nobody would know until it was brought to their attention. The track still feels like something Tyler would make, but aside from the odd ad lib, his voice is nowhere to be found. “When Gloves Come Off” feels heavily influenced by the emotions one would feel on Christmas Eve. The song is populated by sleepy, fragile-sounding bells, but the drums lend an excited heartbeat to the piece – just like a child excited to unwrap their gifts when the sun comes up.

Standing at just 10 minutes, this EP doesn’t demand much of the listener’s time. In a musical area that feels heavily populated by covers of the same five songs, Tyler has come to offer his own unique spin. It is strange to hear someone who’s rapped about such problematic topics talk about rushing home for Christmas to see loved ones, but it’s a welcome change. This project is a Christmas EP for people who don’t normally enjoy Christmas music. No offense to those that prefer the classics, but it’s extremely refreshing to be able to turn this on as opposed to the usual Mariah Carey or Wham!

Listen here:

 

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