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Album Review: Tyler, The Creator, Wolf

Tyler, The Creator has come a long way from his days on Tumblr. The foul-mouthed Odd Future leader has become the poster child for teenage angst and rebellion. He’s been dissected by music critics, denounced GLADD and frustrated the industry. But it’s not just the antics. Tyler’s one-man show of rapping, producing and directing (under various alias) has been the true source of what’s scored him a sketch comedy show, a partnership with Mountain Dew and Best New Artist at the 2011 VMAs. With Wolf, Tyler returns to the realm where he began, music.

Much like 2011’s Goblin, Wolf is an album rife with personal confessions and controversial commentary. Tyler digs a little deeper though this time around, working through insecurities about fame, relationships with women and a fatherless childhood. He’s very much still working through these things, (hurling around F-bombs of the three letter four-letter variety) but he does show growth in his lyricism with a much stronger sense of self.

Throughout, Tyler walks the line between someone who’s maturing and a provocateur still going for cheap gasps. “Slater/Escapism” is an intelligent stream of consciousness affair that personifies a bicycle, in an attempt to work out feelings towards women. But “Pigs”, where Tyler raps from the perspective of a bullied-mass shooter is borderline bad taste, as is “Tamale” a frenzied talk about demanding oral sex, which is only entertaining if you think you’re in on the joke.

Tyler’s at his best alongside his pals and the presence of Odd Future and others (Erykah Badu, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier) actually helps bring out Tyler’s appeal. More often than not, Tyler takes the burden off his shoulders and allows them to carry the track, most notably on “TreeHome95” where Badu’s neo-soul vocals steal the show.

Tyler’s mentioned in various interviews that Wolf is a display of his sprawling production more than his lyrical ability, and there’s no denying the beats here; they’re gorgeous, with jazz chords, seamless beat changes and a juxtaposition of dark and colorful elements. “48”, a Nas-introduced narrative about drug abuse is brought to life through funky guitars, deep bass lines and gentle keys. “IFHY”, a Neptunes homage, balances Tyler and Skateboard P’s contrasting style.

Wolf meets it’s own high expectations by creating an absorbing journey of Tyler’s imagination. Everything from being his own therapist to poking fun at newfound fame is documented in captivating fashion, however juvenile it may be at times. There’s still growing up to do, and maybe time will tame the fascinating artist we see on this album. Until then, there’s no escaping his meteoric rise. And the diehard Odd Future fans will love every minute of it.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep)

  • dfg

    this should be XL. If these guys really looked into the originality, and what’s behind the whole story, Originality should be a XXL

    • wut

      originality should be XXXXXL. they are really trippin.

      • Dfg

        No it shouldn’t, stay objective plz.

  • James

    How is this an L? I woulda given it XL’s across the board. XXL just keeps losing credibility..

  • JRich

    I feel like if this only got an L, than Goblin would get a S. I thought there was a lot of growth and more topics discussed on this album than that one, a cool concept with Wolf and Sam (that wasn’t even mentioned in the review) and still the ignorant shit that everyone loves like Trashwang, Tamale and Domo23. I didn’t care for the OF tape, but this was a huge surprise at how good this album really was

    • wut

      would you happen to be the JRich from the sole collector boards? lol random i know.

  • kato

    how do the beats get an XL but not originality?

  • http://www.facebook.com/earl.monies Grizzly Sweat

    Originality is being seriously underrated here. Nobody puts out stuff like Tyler does.

  • http://twitter.com/Executnr Craig

    teenage angst and rebellion? Last I check he wasn’t a teenager Time for him to grow his ass up. I don’t respect nobody who broadcast to their millions of followers that Black History month is Nigger month and he himself is a black man whether he likes it or not.

    • bluedragon41

      Tyler is saying this stuff based off of what he see’s regularly. Black people do wild shit but hate when people call it out for what it really is. Just like you…..

  • M.A.J.O.R?

    Noooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaaay I need a new website to be on all day

  • supslut

    wait since fucking when was “taming” a fascinating artist a good thing? I feel like this article is really misguided

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.etrata.7 Chris Etrata

    This should be XL!!

  • 21

    seriously? AN L??? WOW XXL, first Chief Keef in the 2013 Frreshmen & now THIS??

  • http://www.facebook.com/kasey.g.montana Kasey Ofwgkta Houston

    ” however juvenile it may be at times. There’s still growing up to do, and maybe time will tame the fascinating artist we see on this album” you see this is why fucking rap is dying.. people think its wrong for tyler to talk about dark shit..music is about ways to express yourself, and if tyler and all of OF want to talk about killing and etc somtimes, then let them, a true and successful artist need only to please him or herself. that quote above is like the blogger is saying he wants tyler to stay with his sensitive side and the he well be better, thats bullshit, what makes an artist great is the freedom he expresses threw his lyrics and the theme they choose and put out to the public, this guys blog is nothing more than what he wants to see from tyler so he will like him better, tyler dont change a thing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marzels Marzel A. Stringer

    This article is ass. Definitely should have been XL and originality should have been XXXXXXL. One of the most original in the industry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Caleb-Cox/727564890 Caleb Cox

    should’ve been in xl

  • radikraze

    Whoa this definitely deserves an XL. Originality should be an XL AT LEAST. And the production was amazing. XXL is trippin.

  • Truth

    Horrible review. I don’t even value XXL for reviews anymore. The rating system sucks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.campbell85 Lauren Campbell

    Apparently y’all are too stupid to know good music when you hear it smh. Fuck XXL.

  • logan

    I feel like originalit should be one higher then beats tbh….I havn’t heard anyone rap like this he truely has his own style of rap…and it’s about his life and his mind…a joourney through his minds eye…disappointed on the rating :(

  • Smiz

    Pathetic review. Overlooking the entire album.

  • Abdi

    fuck XXL. a magazine who no one reads

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaquan.peay2 Jay Peay

    FUCK XXL

  • Deff

    glad to see that LIG & GKMC are still the last albums with an XXL.

    wolf is rated just fine tbh, the production is almost the same on 7 songs, it was lyrically average.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mchacha9001 Matthew Chavez

    Originality should be XXL, and this album should be a solid XL. Too many people who aren’t actual OF fans only hear the surface shock lyrics.. This is the most original artist out there right now. Pretty much everyone in OF…

    • absy

      most original right now ? LOL kendrick did something MORE complex than tyler, tyler deserved the L, stay objective PLEASE

      • http://www.facebook.com/mchacha9001 Matthew Chavez

        Complex doesn’t necessarily mean more original. Tell me, does Kendrick produce his own albums/videos? Kendrick on top of the game right now, but that doesn’t change how original and creative Tyler is compared to 99% of current rappers today who just call up the hottest producers for their beats.

      • http://twitter.com/massconglom MassConglom

        Kedrick is ANY underground artist with a push by Dr. Dre. Kendrick sounds like every other dope underground artist tryin ta make it. Tyler is literally doing everything by himself. Kanye took down his WHOLE website just to stream Tylers music video. XXL or XL should have been the outcome for “Wolf”.

        • CJ

          I wouldn’t say that. I think Kendrick is the best in the game right now easily but I get what you’re saying

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Anderson/100001167841893 Keith Anderson

    It seems XXL just hurried up and skimmed though all the reviews of other web sites and just decided to throw it a L for originality just to justify a rating of L. No talks of Songs like Rusty and how hot it was lyrically and beat wise, no detail into 48 , Colossus and Stan comparisons, not even a mention for how deep and personal Answer truly was or the story behind the album itself (Spoiler* It’s a prequel). My 4 year old son could have wrote a better overall review. You guys just choose who to champion and its sickening. Places like XXL give true hip hop a bad name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Anderson/100001167841893 Keith Anderson

    Wolf > 75% of the trash we call rap these days. The Critics are not even credible anymore… and that doesn’t even come from the fact that i am a fan of OFWGKTA it comes from me being a true fan of hip hop music from all walks of life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Anderson/100001167841893 Keith Anderson

    XXL wants you to rap and sound like everyone else to be considered “Original”… You shouldn’t have to follow a exact blueprint biting the style of someone like a “Kendrick Lamar” to be able to drop a respected album.

  • RM

    just cause something’s “original” shouldn’t guarentee it an xl. Tyler has a unique style but his content feel’s forced sometimes. He’s aggressive and offensive, which is dope, but some of his material is strictly for shock value, which gets old after a while. He’s definitely a talented artist, but his approach is nothing new to rap or hip-hop. It’s been done way before Tyler and OF, and done with a lot more discipline….yall need to quit trippin. Good album, L is a proper critique

  • Lebron

    So XXL gives Game an XL on originality on “Jesus Piece” but gives “WOLF” an L? Game had over 20 features and rapped about what everyone else is rapping about and you give him an XL on being original. Okay. XXL is a joke.

  • http://twitter.com/SkeezyTaughtYou Tyrin

    This should be at least a XL. The beats are a XL, lyrics are L so I ain’t mad at that. But his originality is definitely a XL or XXL. No one makes music like him. He makes all his beats & holds his own on tracks because he barely has features outside of his group. Y’all trippin’

  • Jake

    FUCK XXL !

  • mistah dubs

    i’m not even a real fan of tyler but this album is definitely an XL at least it did the story telling right and although it had some out there stuff which he is known for it didn’t all fit I still think XXL needs to step their game up on reviews
    P.S. anyone notice they didn’t review lil Wayne’s bs? they probably scared to review the piece of shit

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonika.davis Sonika Davis

    yeah this is def an XL album, the beats are an L (none really stands out, except bimmer, maybe tamale)….originality should be an XL, lyrics def an XL…i think xxlmag is just hating on the movement he led

  • http://twitter.com/4080_Rule TRAP GODS

    AND of course WOLF DOESNT RECEIVE A XL WAKE UP YOUR XLS ARE FUCKING TRASH

  • Golf Wang

    really? i’m willing to bet these reviews are written after 1-2 playthroughs. you wanna hear an xl-xxl rated album? listen to it 10 times. he’s one of the elite few artists you can listen to the same song 50 times over again and still catch something you never heard before. it’s called double entendre. ask any other retired musician that’s still collecting royalties.

  • Golf Wang

    lyrics rating of lil B’s new shit: L
    lyrics rating of WOLF: L
    something ain’t right here….

  • ned

    glad people are calling him out on his hype

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y5K3OIRSVGP3MTJDXAMP4VXORY Cadual

    an L? Dumb ass fucking XL run by ignorant ass bitches fuck yall moms. Shit is a XXL, stop crying about your hip your your old ass bitches

    Neil Martinez-Belkin you a bitch ass whore, stop tryna rate shit bitch.

  • FuckYouThisAlbumSucked

    This album was fucking terrible compared to bastard and goblin
    Giving it a L is just to courteous you dick riders need to wake the fuck up. Really disappointed hopefully Earls Doris album wont suck so much dick.

  • Kevin Spellman

    You can’t even get the name of the songs right, it’s just Slater, there’s no “Escapism”. And saying “Pigs” is just Tyler rapping from the perspective of a “bullied mass shooter” is taking the song completely out of context of the album, and you clearly missed the point of the song anyway. How do you review this album and not mention just ONE of Awkward, Answer, Cowboy, Jamba, Colossus, or Tyler’s verse on Rusty? smh.

  • Tha Bard

    This Review is trash. Tyler, the Creator is one of very few innovators in the game right now. Whoever wrote this review probably just can’t handle the darker subject matter

  • Hannya

    Shitty review. Easily an XL. You fools got some nerve rating Lil B higher than this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Anderson/100001167841893 Keith Anderson

    Tyler managed to tell a complete story in reverse spanning three albums and concluded it on his song and video Sam is dead… Yet you critics are still dumb enough to think he is just BSing around with his music. Every song to every album is completely linked. Yet this kid only worth a L in Originality. that is a big time fail.

  • Forman

    Oh c’mon. Lil’ Wayne gets XL for originality in every freaking one of his NEW albums(OMG this is ridiculous). Tyler at least deserves XL for originality. L is just right for lyrics but the originallity? B* please

  • KazDaClown

    you gave lilb’s mixtpe a xl ,but you gave tyler an l? bitch nigaa kill yo’ self

  • KazDaClown

    o…… I get it you confused tyler wit chief keef, cuz the lyrics rating , beats and orig. seem to be his

  • reeses

    this album deserves an xl. y’all gave meek mill a fucking xl. this is why i don’t buy xxl magazine no mo, bye.

  • ShootANiggaInHisDick

    This should have been atleast a XL I mean come on XXL gives Lil B a XL but not Wolf this album is more original then half of the other rappers projects but still only gets a L I mean this album is a classic in a way and he says how Pigs crossed the line but ya its a touchy subject but its something that nobody thought of and Tamale is great and original song so this review is pretty much sucked

  • Shaugnessy

    HOW THE FUCK LIL B GET AN XL AND THIS AIN’T

  • ALiterateAsshole

    Dear NMB,

    Go back to college and restudy journalism. This review is inaccurate and you are not smart enough to work for a major publishing outlet like XXL. I love writing too, so absorb this, you didn’t genuinely adderess the Trilogy and the extremely complex story-line in it. This article sucks, the album isn’t the best ever, but its far better than a Large. It pretty fucking clear that your one of those superficial douche-bags in rap, you probably like Currency (fuck his abbreviation). Delete this comment and repost this article.

    Yours truly,
    A literate asshole

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Kriese/679741033 Josh Kriese

    Does anyone take XXL’s reviews seriously anymore? Lol, I know I don’t

  • Older Gods

    You guys need to listen to his albums get the story line behind his album. It’s quiet genuis

  • Winslow3000

    They clearly don’t understand the story that’s unraveling

  • meh

    I know more about rap than this magazine and I have no black friends…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-Washington/100000627282702 Craig Washington

    i think this was XL….it was huge step up from goblin, tyler kinda mautured an told good stories an lyrics that could actual teach some of these kids sumtin

  • CJ

    LMAO. They gave this an L and lil b’s tape an XL. What the hell. I don’t understand how you can listen to this album and say it’s not very original. XXL is trash

  • therhetorician

    Cry and cry and cry about raps lack of originality and when wolf comes out it it is given a low score and then illiterate artists like Tyga and lil wayne get all the praise

  • Fuckxxl

    Originality at L? Fucking kidding me? He is the most original rapper out there!

  • nobody.

    Ok, So why do we need an article to tell us what our ears already heard? and quit psychoanalyzing his problems. Judge the fucking art. What is this article about?

  • http://twitter.com/iamyungkizz YungKizz

    dis album s*** it goblin bad dis should of been XXL

  • http://twitter.com/KyleTNJ Kyle Terrell Joseph

    Originality should be 4 at the least, you cant compare this album to any other artist projects so a 3 cannot be justified

  • Joey

    THIS IS NOT TRUE AT ALL < THIS SHOULD BE AT LEAST XL AT MOST XXL.

  • Joey

    WHO EVER REVIEWED THIS LISTENS TO FUCKING CHER ALBUMS, FUCKING FAGGET

  • Joey

    AT LEAST GET THE ORIGINALITY RIGHT, NOT ANY ONE IS THE GAME IS EVEN AS CREATIVE AS TYLER, YOU DISAPPOINT ME WITH THIS REVIEW.

  • Joey

    AT LEAST GET THE ORIGINALITY RIGHT, NOT ANY ONE IS THE GAME IS EVEN AS CREATIVE AS TYLER, YOU DISAPPOINT ME WITH THIS REVIEW.

  • Jay DeLuca

    “Fuck Critics” tyler voice..shit”s dope like whitney houstons needs lol..Im not even a fan of tyler..But this album was entertaining..i liked it…#23hoopdr3@mz

  • Junior

    Originality should be xxl

  • DR. SUSS

    this still pisses me off. this is easily a XL but they got someone who is bias against tyler and OF. thats like asking wayne to rate drakes new album, of course he’d say XXL, because he’s bias. this rating is bullshit