From the moment you first hear Tyler, The Creator, you know you’re in for an adventure. Whether you’ve been following since the days of Wolf Haley or began with the wig-bearing Igor, each moment with the rapper/singer/producer is a picturesque sample of sonic scenery. His early projects Bastard, Goblin, and Wolf are reminiscent of a sweaty, overly filled house party, raging with adolescent emotions and energy on tracks like ‘French!’ and ‘Yonkers’ before the sun rises with standouts like ‘Answer’. Tyler’s later offerings Cherry Bomb, Flower Boy, and Igor feel like climbing a mountain, as you trudge the steep inclines of the distorted ‘DEATHCAMP!’, stop to admire nature on ‘See You Again’, and reach the summit to admire the picturesque ‘Earfquake’. Throughout this journey, Tyler’s production has evolved from eerie synths to warm soul soundscapes, with his lyrics developing from nihilistic to deeply nuanced. This growth culminates in the globe-trotting celebration that is his 7th studio album Call Me If You Get Lost.
Call Me If You Get Lost is another quest through different climates. This time around, Tyler is seen sledding in Utah, commanding a boat through the lakes of Geneva, and attending a disco in France. His worldwide trek is soundtracked by a myriad of vintage samples, soothing synths and blasting bass lines, as he captains a lyrical victory lap that is rich with luxury, accomplishments and the art of the flex. Narrating Tyler’s great escapades is rap legend DJ Drama, the voice of the iconic Gangsta Grillz mixtape series, who serves as the engine propelling Tyler’s vision into grandeur.
To learn more about the destinations and of Call Me If You Get Lost, we’re looking back at the starting points on the map that lead us to these lookouts, from his earlier road trips to new routes that help showcase his growth.
From Bastard to Baudelaire
Back in 2009, Tyler released his debut mixtape Bastard. It was a dark collection of gritty rap tracks, laced with the lo-fi sounds of bedroom production and Tyler’s chaotic vision. The rawness of tracks like ‘AssMilk’ and ‘Blow’ mirrored the sound of early Wu-Tang yet were modernised by the growing influence of the internet. It solidified Tyler, the young prospect as a mega rapper/producer hybrid, orchestrating eeriness alongside his chaotic take on the hip-hop landscape. But as Tyler moved further into superstar territory, he moved further away from rap, with 2019’s Igor mainly thriving in the atmosphere of synthwave and soul. Call Me If You Get Lost, however, is a reimagined return to his lyrical roots.
Tyler credited this reinvigorated love to none other than Griselda frontrunner Westside Gunn in an Instagram Live after the album’s release, thanking him for “Making him want to rap again.” Taking it further into hip-hop’s roots is the narration from DJ Drama, whose sporadic, hyped adlibs make this reminiscent of a project from his Gangsta Grillz era, a mixtape series in which Tyler expressed his aspirations of being a part of in a 2010 tweet. The result of these influences is the creation of the alter ego Tyler Baudelaire, an Ushanka-fitted, sweater-vest wearing adventurer who lives for the lusciousness of his surroundings, and the hard-hitting nature of his bars.
There’s a variety of moments throughout Call Me If You Get Lost that see the Tyler Baudelaire character living out his rap fantasy. As Drama’s voice soars with praises, Tyler thrives in the Gravediggaz samples that slice on ‘LUMBERJACK’, the fiery delivery of ‘CORSO’, the back and forth beauty of ‘HOT WIND BLOWS’ alongside Lil Wayne and the bold stylings of the opener of ‘SIR BAUDELAIRE’. Other appearances from 42 Dugg, Lil Uzi Vert, and Pharrell accompany Tyler in his spitting success. In a way, it’s the same young artist from Bastard, making music from his room and rapping for the joy of it. But now, he’s revisiting that flame with over a decade in the game, surrounded by the mountains of his
The Growth of a Goblin
Tyler starts off his debut studio album Goblin with a self-titled intro, rapping “I’m not a fucking role model, I’m a 19-year-old fucking emotional coaster with pipe dreams” to his fictional therapist. This sentiment symbolised the whole album, in a sense. It was a teenager expressing his nihilism and buried emotions through a series of satirical trolls and outlandish, controversial bars. Flash forward to a decade later, we are presented with an adult Tyler on Call Me If You Get Lost, a celebratory man with a lot to love.
Amongst the scenery of his travels, there isn’t any nihilism to be found. Instead, he’s taking a victory lap on the lake, basking in the sun-soaked reality of his accomplishments. This is perfectly summarised in the interlude ‘BLESSED’, where he raises a sonic glass to his success in music, fashion, health, and his Camp Flog Gnaw festival. On ‘RISE’, he flexes his superstardom to prove his deniers wrong. Even throughout moments of adversity, such as the tumultuous relationship issues of ‘WILSHIRE’, he still seeks out the silver lining in the demise of romance.
A Vintage Voyage
In 2012, Tyler tweeted “Maybe if I started sampling or having ghost producers I can start popping like these other guys.” It was a time where Tyler was ambitious in his craft and deeply rooted in the originality of his chord progressions. While the ghost producer is still nowhere to be found, the message Tyler conveyed then seems funny through the lens of Call Me If You Get Lost.
The literal travelling that Tyler references throughout this project is backed by a sample-led quest through the history of music, paired with the influences that are propelling his current ideas. ‘WUSYANAME’ samples the vintage sounds of soul from H-Town’s ‘Back Seat (With No Sheets)’, garnished with Tyler’s chords, Ty Dolla $ign’s melodies, and feature from Louisiana rapper NBA Youngboy. On ‘SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE’, Tyler incorporates excerpts from Fil Callender & Jah Stitch, as well as Hookfoot throughout the layers of synths and keys he conducts, even showcasing his hype over the song’s inclusion of two bridges. Even in the moments when samples aren’t present, Tyler leads the listener through different regions of the hip-hop world. ‘LEMONHEAD’ contains the big-band brass you’d often hear in the sounds of early trap. ‘RUNITUP’’ has Three 6 Mafia-esque chant vocals that reference the days of Early Memphis rap. DJ Drama describes the adventure perfectly on ‘MANIFESTO’ when he shouts “Shit like this makes me want to turn my baseball cap to the side!” It’s a hat swivel of sonic-switching.
Travelling through Introspection
“Come get lost with me, man, when you really out there, call me, I’ll be there,” Tyler narrates on ‘BLESSED’, which in a sense, perfectly summarises his evolution. At the start of his career, he made waves as an expressive recluse, sharing his disdain in a way that resonated with our coming-of-age stories. We felt the cynicism, the nihilism and the eeriness of the production. But it’s Tyler’s growth over the last decade that has culminated in Call Me If You Get Lost, as a 30-year-old Tyler travels through introspection he celebrates his milestones in music, business, and his personal life. He approaches his struggles with wisdom, finding the shining spots in bleak moments. He appreciates his surroundings, whether it’s the beautiful city of Geneva or the synthesizers around him. Plus, he freaking loves to rap! Paying homage to the likes of Westside Gunn and Gravediggaz, all while achieving his teenage aspirations of getting his own Gangsta Grillz project. He denounced being a role model on Goblin, but now relishes in it, and he wants us to call when we get lost, as he invites us on his journey through life, hoping that we follow in a similar direction.