In 2010, Tyler the creator tweeted that he wanted a Gangsta Grillz tape, the prolific DJ Drama mixtape series that inspired much of the best hip-hop of the 2000s. Tyler fulfilled many of his dreams in the years that followed. After his collective Odd Future was a game-changer in the early 2010s, their hell gave way to the radical art of members Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd and Tyler, who went on to become one of the most successful rappers and producers. more respected. He collaborated with many artists who obsessed him at the time. He wrote musical scores and scripted television shows; he won a Grammy; he runs a revered fashion line and a successful festival.
Her sixth album, Call Me If You Get Lost, finds the artist who is in her thirties and reflects on her life so far: the joys and luxury (“It’s opulence, baby!”), Her growth since the days of shock rap in the context of contemporary social media “activism” (“Internet bringing back old lyrics like I’m hiding shit”), and the sacrifices along the way (“Everyone I have never loved had to be loved in the shadows ”). Between the tracks, DJ Drama “hosts” the disc, offering ironic tags and playful stories of their travels around the world (like how in Switzerland, “a young woman just fed me with French vanilla ice cream!”) . Gangsta Grillz tapes have fallen off the mainstream radar in recent years: the fact that Tyler breathes new life into the format in 2021 is a testament to not only his ambition and vision, but also his ability to deliver them.
Call Me If You Get Lost is decadent and luxurious, using samples hand-picked with the expertise of a true cashier. There’s the bass clarinet running through opener Sir Baudelaire (relieved by Billy Cobham via Westside Gunn), wet through flute on Hot Wind Blows; the fascinating and brilliant R&B of Houston on Wusyaname; and the deliciously wobbly and heated quasi-Lovers Rock of Sweet / I Thought You Wanted to Dance. Features like Lil Wayne, Pharrell, and even Tyler’s mother enhance and beautify without harming. Compositionally, CMIYGL is a showcase of Tyler’s respect and nostalgia for what came before him, channeled into his own present and future.
Of course, the fact that Tyler could rap, create compelling stories from a skillful and intentional flow. He’s always been a romantic, but here he has a softer side than ever before, forced to recognize that love, so often, is all about timing. It may seem like it all fits together for him, but look between the cracks in the polished veneer and the urge to travel and there is a caustic frustration and longing.
During Wilshire’s eight minutes, he recounts in great detail “the one thing missing” in his life, falling in love with a friend’s partner, and the heavy guilt as he tries to figure out what to do. He continues that he has to keep his loved ones “away from comments and spotlight and thoughts / Because it’s just a story for people outside / But I guess you’re just another chapter of the book “. For all he can brag about his successes and accomplishments (although, for the sake of being humble, he notes on Blessed that he still can’t seem to grow his hair), they have hampered his ability to lead a normal life. (Yet, in telling this muddy story, he gave way to speculation about who the friend and potential lover were, which arguably predestines them to the same thing.)
“Come and lose yourself with me,” Tyler offers on Blessed. It’s a tender invitation that arrives late in an album that has already guided the listener through a luminous, expansive and sometimes sentimental world united in a transparent way, with songs – like a real mixtape – blending together into each other. Very often we focus on the beginnings and the ends. In Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler the creator is a masterful reminder that life is made of travel, growth, confusion, pain, and magic in between.