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Ranking all 7 of Tyler, The Creator’s albums

Tyler, the Creator, is back. On June 25th, 2021, he dropped CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST to both critics’ and fans’ delight, myself included. The album comes on the heels of his 2020 Grammy-winning album, IGOR. Tyler came back hard with a braggadocious record combining aspects from all across his career. CMIYGL undoubtedly features some of the best work of his career and has debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 200 List, beating out Doja Cat’s new album Planet Her. This begs the question, where does this Tyler, the Creator project rank among his seven albums?

Throughout his time in the rap game, Tyler’s character arc has been one of the most fascinating to watch unfold. He started making music as a rebellious teenager in 2007. The former Odd Future ringleader has now released seven albums in his career, evolving individually and sonically as time went on. Today, he’s a 30-year-old established artist and producer telling everyone, “I told you so.” His ability to rap over his own production has garnered him loads of success, ramping towards greatness status on this front to the levels of Kanye West, RZA, and Dr. Dre.

With the release of every recent Tyler album, I often find myself comparatively listening to his old work to see how far he’s come. With the release of CMIYGL, I went back and listened through Tyler’s entire discography. It was fascinating hearing him develop and blossom with each release while also staying true to himself.

I’ll be the first to say I’m not a day one fan, but I’ve listened to his entire discography multiple times now. I was first introduced to Tyler through YouTube recommendations, which presented “Yonkers” to me in high school. It was almost three years after its release, but in just one listen, I immediately went down the rabbit hole.

Reminder: This is just my opinion, but I would love to hear your takes as well, so let me know how your list compares to mine! T has seven albums under his belt with his latest release, and now that he’s a veteran in the game, how does CMIYGL stack up to the rest of his work?

#7 – Goblin

Tyler the creator, Goblin album cover from XL Recordings
Image via XL Recordings

First, starting off the list is Tyler’s 2011 record Goblin. Before going into detail, I should mention that I don’t think that Tyler has ever dropped a bad record. However, if he did, it would easily be this album. Despite catapulting Odd Future into stardom, it was also a peak for some of his more vulgar and controversial language and subject matter. However, stepping aside from the horrorcore lens, a few excellent moments from the record showed many of Tyler’s potential as an artist.

Goblin has weathered a lot thanks to the aforementioned offensive lyrics that came with it. While this is rightfully so, the album, in general, does not hold up for the most part. Many tracks are a little too cluttered and hard to digest, and I believe it’s among the weakest production of his discography. Tyler is by far the most talented individual on the record, and that’s apparent with some of the weak features from his Odd Future companions.

The record includes many flawed tracks, but there are a few great moments on it worth mentioning. Tyler’s viral hit “Yonkers” epitomizes the grime that came with this record without being too abrasive and in-your-face. “She,” featuring fellow former Odd Future member Frank Ocean, breaks the pattern by actually having a pleasant feature, and the track is my favorite from the album.

I don’t think Goblin is exactly “horrible,” as Tyler himself called it in a 2018 interview with GQ. However, I am considering these albums on the spectrum of Tyler, not hip-hop as a whole. The record has some good flashes, and it isn’t certified Gold for no reason. Although this album has a major problem: so much of the album is compiled of songs that do not warrant another listen. “She,” “Yonkers,” and other bright spots aren’t enough to carry Goblin out of the bottom of my list.

#6 – Bastard

Tyler the creator, Bastard album cover
Image via Tyler, the Creator

Before going into this entry, I should address the inclusion of Bastard into my list. While some people consider it a mixtape, Tyler has gone on record saying he has seven albums. Recently, Tyler announced the release of CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST on Twitter, saying “MY 7TH ALBUM”. This record served as the reasoning behind Tyler’s 2015 ban from the United Kingdom and Australia, so you know it’s got a legacy.

Where Goblin struggled, Bastard was just a notch or so above it in those respects. The prospect of an 18-year-old kid rapping about such muddling subject matter and making some pleasing music in the process is pretty insane. The album is a visceral dive into the mind of a teenager still figuring themselves out internally and artistically. It isn’t too ambitious, but its raw atmosphere makes it a fascinating LP.

Tyler spends much of the album in a conversation between himself and Dr. TC. A therapist later revealed to be his conscience. He brilliantly uses this idea as a medium for him to vent disturbing imagery while also touching more personal subjects like his father’s absence. The record also introduces Tyler’s fiddling with voice distortion, which becomes a mastered staple in every record to date.

Among my favorite tracks from the album are the titular “Bastard” and “Odd Toddlers.” The former is a gritty introduction to the record and Tyler’s skill and style as a whole. The latter track carries a lot of swagger and confidence all throughout it. Odd Future member Casey Veggies closes out the song with a smooth verse, but not to the level of Tyler’s presence on the track.

Bastard is not without flaws, though. The production fizzles out as it goes on, but it never gets unbearable like some parts of Goblin get to. Tyler’s yet-to-be-determined personality and style make the record’s shining weakness its inconsistencies. Half the album is serious and diving inward, whereas the rest is toting copious confidence and ego. This can likely be attributed to his age at the time of its creation, but all-in-all, the record is an incredible and raw full-length debut from an 18-year-old rapper and producer.

#5 – Cherry Bomb

Tyler the creator, Cherry Bomb album cover from Odd Future Records
Image via Odd Future Records

The fifth entry on my list was the toughest to place for me; it was either four or five. My feelings about Tyler’s fourth studio album have changed over time more than any other album. Cherry Bomb indicates a further shift in sound. We see him getting closer sonically to the more recent records that have helped skyrocket his solo career. The album is a glaring nod to his Kanye West and Pharrell Williams influences, even getting guest appearances on separate cuts.

Cherry Bomb alternates between soothing, soulful tracks and thumping, hardcore hip-hop tracks. The former selection of songs is among the best on the album. I love the shift in his style in this direction on his recent records, and here we get just a taste of what’s to come. I appreciate some bits of the noisier tracks as well. However, their quality takes a significant backseat to the prominent, smoother half of the 2015 album. I appreciate this album increasingly with time now that we’ve seen how it bridged the gap between old and new Tyler, the Creator.

Among my favorites from the album are the tracks “OKAGA, CA” and “FIND YOUR WINGS.” These tracks are just beautiful, to put it simply. They are some that I find myself constantly returning to, increasingly so. It marks the last album released from the Odd Future era, but he remains tirelessly optimistic. These two songs both wrap up feelings of joy as he steps into a brighter future. He’s inching closer to finally figuring himself out and the things he loves, gorgeously serving his emotions in these tracks.

One interesting thing about Cherry Bomb is that I probably return to it more than any other record. This is even though it isn’t nearly my favorite of Tyler’s discography. Tyler bids farewell to his Odd Future days in a beautiful sendoff while also paying homage to the sound he came up with. It is the first entry on the definitively good list, with some amazing peaks but some uninteresting lows. Thus, the record opens up the top five as my fifth favorite album from the Creator.

#4 – Wolf

Tyler the creator, Wolf album cover from Odd Future Records
Image via Odd Future Records

Tyler’s 2013 album Wolf could’ve easily been interchangeable with Cherry Bomb for my list. However, I give it the edge because I would argue that it makes the most significant turning point in his career. Sometime after the release of Goblin in a 2011 interview with SPIN, he says, �Talking about r–e and cutting bodies up, it just doesn�t interest me anymore.� He steps almost (keyword almost) entirely away from provocation and emerges with a conceptual, meaningful story.

The record is the first in his collection to have some prominently honest, joyful moments. It doesn’t quite bridge the gap between Tyler’s eras the way Cherry Bomb does. However, it surely features old Tyler at his best. It rewards fans with some more world-building, adding layers to Tyler’s fictional creations. The album was leagues above Goblin, improving in many facets coming just two years between their releases.

Jamba,” “Answer,” and “IFHY” are my top three tracks from the project. “Jamba” is a hard cut with solid rap verses from Tyler and Hodgy. “Answer” is a vulnerable, spiteful track that lets Tyler’s emotions take the mic, speaking on his relationship with his father. Finally, “IFHY” is one of my favorite songs to this day. It marks the first time he had the chance to collaborate with his biggest influence, Pharrell Williams. Pharrell guest stars with beautiful vocals on the track’s refrain and second verse.

Overall, the record benchmarks major growth as an individual and an artist for Tyler. Unfortunately, it overstays its welcome a little bit, much like Goblin, clocking in at an hour and ten minutes worth of music. While it may not be Tyler’s best work by any means, I would argue that it’s the most important project in his discography. Tyler likely doesn’t reach the superstardom he’s at today without taking the steps that came with this record in terms of his growth and success.

#3 – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

Tyler the creator, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST album cover from Columbia Records
Image via Columbia Records

Now, this is where Tyler’s work jumps from “good but not quite great” to “holy sh*t.” You’ll notice I will have little-to-nothing bad to say about the top three albums. Tyler uses all of the skills he developed throughout his 14 years in the league and creates a slick, confident amalgam that is this record. Selling 169,000 units in the first week, CMIYGL is a victory lap album, and Tyler’s braggadocio shines emphatically in the final entry of the new Tyler’s trilogy. It somehow manages to leave us wanting more, despite already being composed of 16 tracks.

The #1 record in the U.S. features some of the best production in Tyler’s career and arguably the most well-rounded guest appearances of any project in his discography. Lil Uzi Vert and Pharrell team up with Tyler on the banger “JUGGERNAUT.” NBA Youngboy shocks the world as T settles him comfortably into the soulful song “WUSYANAME.” Lil Wayne is in peak form, dropping bars on “HOT WIND BLOWS.” Tyler even treats fans to a reunion with former Odd Future member Domo Genesis, who raps on “MANIFESTO.”

Tyler finally got the “Gangsta Grillz” project he longed for. DJ Drama joins Tyler all over the album, bragging about everything they’re up to and hyping Sir Baudelaire, AKA Bunny Hop, every time he grabs the mic. There are a lot of favorite tracks to choose from on this album. Deserving the most recognition are the tracks “CORSO” and “WILSHIRE.” The former is this entire album in one song: a thumping hit oozing with confidence. The latter is an inspiring eight-minute, one-take monologue about Tyler’s feelings about a failed relationship.

The record altogether features some of Tyler’s best work, without a doubt. While there is almost nothing to complain about on the record, I have it at third because I find myself drawn to more contextually threaded projects. CMIYGL, while a rocking project encapsulating Tyler’s success and vanity, does not compare to the thematic composition that his previous two records possess. Perhaps with time, this will wind up higher up on my list, but for now, it remains an outstanding, respectable top-three entry atop Tyler’s full-length projects.

#2 – Flower Boy

Tyler the creator, Flower Boy album cover from Columbia Records
Image via Columbia Records

I absolutely adore this record. Flower Boy is Tyler’s transformation into an artist, putting all of his effort into his own self, vision, and art. Tyler fully sheds the raunchy, controversial aspects of his personality and music. In the process, he’s developed a much more vulnerable, revealing personality with this project. Relatability is everything for this record, as Tyler’s introspective lyrics discuss many common themes of life. From depression, loneliness, and sexuality to love, fame, and materialism, there’s a song for everyone to connect with on the album.

Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy, debuted a solo-produced album at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 200. The record is certified Platinum and features some of Tyler’s most enjoyable work to date. It’s sprinkled with lovely features from Rex Orange County, Kali Uchis, Estelle, and the returning Frank Ocean. It also sees some solid guest appearances from Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, and Jaden Smith.

The Grammy-nominated album features a handful of my favorite tracks from The Creator’s discography. “Foreword” with Rex Orange County is a pleasant introduction to the record. “911 / Mr. Lonely” is a standout track featuring Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy. The first half of the track is upbeat, whereas the second is darker, but both halves are depressing lyrically. “Garden Shed” featuring Estelle is gorgeous, and I believe it’s one of the more underrated tracks Tyler’s produced in his new era.

Tyler, being the titular “flower boy,” blossoms as an artist and as a person with this album. It’s the second-most well-put-together album he’s made. Tyler embraces his individuality and lets his feelings run wild as a songwriter, creating his most sympathetic work to date. Flower Boy has nothing but good within it. However, despite being an outstanding creation, it doesn’t quite cross the threshold of perfection as the number one spot does. Still, an amazing album and a well-deserved entry as my second-favorite Tyler, the Creator album of all time.

#1 – IGOR

Tyler the creator, IGOR album cover from Columbia Records
Image via Columbia Records

This album is seriously close to perfection. It’s possible the best hip-hop breakup album ever, easily contending with Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak for the title. IGOR sees Tyler take his success from a polarizing rapper and producer with immense potential to a flat-out hip-hop icon. The album netted Tyler a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2020. So, yeah, it’s pretty freaking good.

IGOR likely features Tyler’s best production to date, top-to-bottom. It grazes sounds from R&B, soul, and lo-fi, but it remains a rap album at its core, despite being a brief project and having limited bars. He fuses this multitude of sounds into one of the most sonically impressive rap records I’ve ever heard of. This is even more impressive when you understand the history Tyler, the Creator, made with the project. Tyler became “the first solo rapper in history to have a No. 1 album he produced and arranged by himself, no co-production”.

There isn’t a bad track on the album. Better yet, every single track ranges from good to simply awe-inspiring. “EARFQUAKE” featuring Playboi Carti is just unbelievably catchy. “I THINK” is another example of his brilliance on the record with a symphonic expression of curiosity and doubt of love, getting help from Solange on the track. “NEW MAGIC WAND” features my favorite production from Tyler ever, and he eats it up with gorgeous background vocals from Santigold and Jessy Wilson. He’s even deemed this track his magnum opus on Twitter last September.

IGOR is an instant classic and should be remembered as such for decades to come. With Tyler’s talents peaking in the 2019 album, he’s firing on all cylinders. The album is a thrilling romance record that outshines his previous works, and future project CMIYGL, in just about almost every single way. IGOR is one of the best rap albums of the last decade. Point blank. Thus, it’s an easy choice to sit alone as the best project from his career.

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