If you’re going to return to any one album from the summer of 2021, or listen to any release for the first time, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST by Tyler, the Creator is where you should turn for a high-quality back-to-back album listen.
The summer of 2021 was a year of highly anticipated releases in the world of music, as big and small artists alike released projects they made in quarantine. These releases ranged from the sonically masterful to the underwhelming to whatever Donda is.
Tyler’s album stood out by blending the sounds of his melodic work on previous albums like IGOR and Flower Boy and the pure bar-focused rapping of Bastard and Goblin, an amalgamation of his sonic past as Tyler improves and evolves. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST follows Tyler’s experience after winning a Grammy, his newfound wealth, and his attempts to navigate a romantic affair (aka stealing his friend’s girl).
Highlights of the album like CORSO feature neck-breaking and fast paced drum breaks as Tyler raps about his travels in exotic locations like Capri, calling out lavish living in his Rolls Royce and his “other other other other crib.” I particularly enjoyed the album’s callbacks to the classic Gangsta Grillz mixtapes of artists like Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, and Pharell, boasting DJ Drama’s ad libs on 13 of the album’s 16 tracks.
Tyler continues to deliver bar-focused cuts across the album’s 52 minutes, along with more vulnerable songs like the one-take WILSHIRE, where he tells the story of a complicated relationship with a committed partner.
Tracks like these are complimented by the melodic writing and smooth arrangements of songs like SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, Tyler’s obligatory double tenth track in the style of GONE, GONE/THANK YOU off of his Grammy-winning 2019 album IGOR and 911/Mr. Lonely on 2017’s Flower Boy, and a silky neo-soul/reggae composition in the style of his previous albums and highlights some of the best contributions from featured artists of the summer’s releases.
Tyler combines his production ability and skill in the studio to bring out the best in his contemporaries across the board, from the uncharacteristic crooning of NBA Youngboy on WUSYANAME, the album’s biggest hit on the charts, to Pharell’s first dedicated rap verse since 2017.
In a summer full of almost-releases, chaotic drop rumors, and musical hype, Tyler managed to orchestrate an organized and quick release, teasing the album with billboards in Los Angeles featuring a custom phone number, singles, tweets, and videos leading up to the album’s release in mid-June. Frankly, it felt like Tyler was the only artist who actually had an actual plan in regards to his new work, even teasing the album with a secret Easter Egg in the lining of his suitcase at the 2019 Grammys.
Continuing to evolve in new and surprising ways, Tyler demonstrates mastery at the mic, behind the keys, and at the drawing board, as one of few artists who can deliver such a complete and finished concept so consistently, releasing a new project every other summer without fail since 2009. Despite being in the game for multiple decades, he continues to improve, maintain relevance, and perfect his craft, already miles ahead of artists in his age group and above.
His latest release is an album that will stand the test of time; one that only gets better with every listen, and one that definitely tops the list of 2021 releases so far. This is the year of self confidence, and Tyler demonstrates that masterfully with his atypical flexing across an array of knocking drums, almost-clipping faders, and beautifully arranged instrumentals.