Tyler takes people on the journey of his growth through nostalgia
The 2000s was considered the mixtape era. The rise of rappers spitting bars over a DJ’s words, the tracks flowing effortlessly yet still feeling like a compilation and the raw and homemade feel is what made that era so meaningful. The word mixtape today has, in a sense, lost value. One factor could be the industry’s format for success as well as the sudden emergence of overnight celebrities. An artist can put out as many mixtapes as they want, yet their “debut album,” despite coming after those projects, is what seems to matter most.
One of these DJ legends is Philly native DJ Drama. His Gangsta Grillz series includes some of the most influential and highly regarded records in hip-hop. He comes back to bring that same energy to collaborate with Tyler, the Creator on Call Me If You Get Lost. The 16-track album includes Drama’s well-known comedic banter, features that appeal to many listeners of hip-hop and as well as a new persona from Tyler.
“SIR BAUDELAIRE” is the opening track. The jazzy instrumental fits right along with Tyler’s braggadocious lyrics and is a smooth introduction to DJ Drama. “WUSYANAME” features YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign. The soft melodies of Ty Dolla’s vocals and the instruments give it a sweet, airy feel. It’s different for YoungBoy, as his own work is more abrasive, but he flows over the track without missing a beat. “LUMBERJACK” is the first single off the album and is a sonic contrast of the previous track. Sampling the Gravediggaz’ “2 Cups of Blood,” Tyler reminds everyone just how successful he is with lines like “MSG sell out…I took that gold bitch home, niggas was big mad.”
“HOT WIND BLOWS” transports people to a world of luxury, specifically Geneva, Switzerland, as DJ Drama says in the introduction. Lil Wayne joins Tyler as they get cocky about their skills and remind listeners of their luxurious lifestyle that came because of said skills. “MASSA” is a really raw and honest track. Bringing the vibes that “Yonkers” (from his 2011 project Goblin) had, Tyler’s low register and honesty remind people just how human he is. People get insight about his mom’s living situation at the time of the release of “Yonkers,” how he didn’t really grow up until after finding fame and how Flower Boy was a turning point in his career.
“SWEET/ I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” is a perfect track. Spanning almost 10 minutes long, it is the longest on the album. Yet, its dreamy and soul-pop sound builds to a groovy, bossa nova beat in such a cohesive way that people find themselves floating along with the lyrics. Brent Faiyaz and Fana Hues’s soothing vocals are reassuring. It’s easy to get lost in the story and almost place oneself into it.
“JUGGERNAUT” is reminiscent of the 2018 single, “OKRA.” The bass-focused beat allows for Tyler and his features, Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell Williams, to bounce off of each other’s flows. “WILSHIRE” is the most vulnerable and specific track off of the album. While love is something that Tyler never openly talked about in public, he drops his guard for the eight-minute track. Giving a timeline of the love story and emotions that came from them gives it this diaristic feel; this probably comes from the fact that it was recorded on a handheld mic and in one take on his second attempt at recording. He pauses once midway to speak and ends the track speaking as well. It’s the most exposed people have seen Tyler, and it’s so fresh to see knowing how guarded he was when he came onto the scene. “SAFARI” ends the album with a fun production. Tyler plays with various vocal filters and flows that make the track even more exciting to listen to. Even with all these elements, it’s mellow, satisfactory and triumphant. It’s as if Tyler is content with how it ended and where his life is as well.
Call Me If You Get Lost is the perfect example of an artist developing. Tyler, the Creator is one of the few artists who have been successfully able to grow and develop their sound with each release. This new persona, Tyler Baudelaire, is confident, vulnerable and grateful for everything he has. So, this album is a way to express all of that by taking people on this journey he’s been on since Igor. There truly would not have been a better way to display this journey and development than through a mixtape-style format with DJ Drama as the magic touch.