Call Me If You Get Lost: The Cumulative Evolution of Tyler the Creator


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Lauren Landolfi, Contributing Writer and Photographer

Producer, writer, and vocalist Tyler the Creator’s seventh album titled Call Me If You Get Lost is a resounding view into the passions and talent of the artist, Tyler Okonma, and his development throughout his music career since his first album titled Bastard released in 2009. One of the most resounding developments in the world of modern music has been the evolution and growth of Tyler the Creator and the journey he has taken over the past twelve years with his musical identity. 


Despite having gotten his musical start over twelve years ago with a group of artists called Odd Future and his first official album Bastard in 2009, Tyler’s career was jump-started to public view with his controversially popular song Yonkers released in 2011, winning him an award for MTV’s Video Music Award for Best New Artist and the nihilistic and bold release of his second studio album Goblin, and throughout those twelve years, it is clear to see the effect of maturation and growth within the artist that is reflected through his journey into his most recent album. 


Tyler the Creator’s career was not as cookie-cutter as so many others in the industry as his passion for music was originally overshadowed by the harsh, attention-grabbing lyrics and sound cues of his original albums. The utilization of raunchy lyrics and even infamous sound cues such as The Devil’s Tritone provide a more jarring experience. Looking back on those songs now, Tyler has reflected on the album Goblin by stating, “I think Goblin is horrible..The only songs I would keep from Goblin are ‘Yonkers,’ ‘She,’ ‘Nightmare,’ ‘Tron Cat,’ ‘Fish,’ ‘Analog,’ and ‘Au79’” (Genius). This attention-grabbing era of his career would later be described by Tyler in a more negative context, but as a good story down the line to reflect on his career and his maturation since he was nineteen years old. 


Tyler’s discography would then evolve further as he began to transition into what was considered a more matured era of his music in the 2013 album, Wolf. Tyler’s now third studio album Wolf was considered a “smoothing of his previous albums rough edges…partial to naive chords that radiate sunshine, and he still plays keyboards like someone working out melodies he hears in his head on his own” (The New York Times). Wolf would then evolve into the bombastic sounds of his fourth studio album, Cherry Bomb, released in 2015. Cherry Bomb was even officially described by Tyler as a large transitional period for him into his modern musical tastes that he is so passionate about today, stating in his song MASSA from Call me If You Get Lost on his evolution through this time as a whole, “See, I was shifting, that’s really why Cherry Bomb sounded so shifty. My taste started changing from what it was when they met me. But first impression is everything, ain’t wanna let me go..”


Then, two years later, a revolutionary moment in Tyler the Creator’s career occurred when he released his fifth studio album, Flower Boy in 2017. After the generally negative reaction to his previous album Cherry Bomb, Tyler sought a way to truly express his passions for music and his lyrical ability, which culminated into what is believed to be Tyler’s moment of truly “blossoming” into the successful artist he would continue to develop as for years afterward. Flower Boy is the absolute expression of Tyler’s identity as the entire theme of the album is his internal struggle with his sexual identity and how his development as an artist has affected his self-perception. Songs such as Foreword, See You Again, Boredom, 911/Mr. Lonely, and especially Garden Shed all provide an incredible lyrical journey through an individual struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity and in turn, provide a wonderful musical journey along with it. This momentous album sparked Tyler’s path to reaching more of the public eye, with his song See You Again being featured on the radio and Tyler having full tours across the country shortly afterward. In Tyler’s own words from the song MASSA from Call me If You Get Lost, “Thankfully, by hour three it detoured perspective, um. Thoughts change so rapid, turned to butterfly, Flower Boy happened. All the bees buzzed me, the bugs screamed they love me. First time I private airlined, accolades, song got airtime. Grew into my style, body, and feelings and fixed my hairline. Calmed down in front of cameras, business hit tens of millions. I’m not that little boy y’all was introduced to at 1-9.”


After Flower Boy’s melodic, jazz rap, and neo-soul sound, it was clear Tyler was not turning back to the grungy and intense sound of Goblin or Cherry Bomb but instead combining the two to create what is considered an incredible lyrical work titled Igor. Igor, released in 2019 was a reflection of Tyler’s talent and his ability to convey pure emotion through his music as the story of Igor was the central core of the album. The story follows Tyler’s emotional ride of falling in love with a taken man and his journey of detaching himself from that unhealthy relationship through intense emotional rhythms and lyrics, bending the genre of rap into a unique art form through songs such as I THINK and GONE, GONE/THANK YOU. This incredible lyrical journey brought Tyler the Creator’s name to the award stages, winning him the Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist and a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Igor was considered a raw emotional reflection of Tyler’s talent and identity and was one of the final steps for Tyler to reach a new height of fame. 


Released on June 25, 2021, Tyler the Creator’s seventh studio album, Call Me If You Get Lost, is comprised of sixteen songs with many featuring artists such as DJ Drama, 42 Dugg, Domo Genesis, Youngboy, Lil Wayne, Teezo Touchdown, Brent Faiyaz, Fana Hues, Daisy World, Lil Uzi Vert, and Pharell Williams. Call Me If You Get Lost is seemingly a comprehensive look into the outside man in a love triangle through songs such as WILSHIRE, CORSO, WASYANAME, and SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE. The sounds of wave-like synths and sound-effects over the beautiful piano tracks blended underneath provides an unparalleled blend of emotions and lyricism into passionate lyrics and vocals covering subjects ranging from sexual identity, social injustices, Tyler the Creator’s perspective on his musical development, and the thought processes of an odd-man-out in a love triangle. However what truly makes this album stand out throughout Tyler’s long discography is that fact that Call Me If You Get Lost can be considered the absolute culmination of Tyler’s musical passions, combining some of the more gritty sounds of Igor through songs such as JUGGERNAUT with the soft and lyrical tones of SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE. The album, genre labeled as Hip Hop, has a run time of fifty-two minutes and forty-one seconds, with the shortest song BLESSED running at fifty-eight seconds and the longest song SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE running at nine minutes and forty-nine seconds. It is a passionate piece of art that is recommended to be listened to in one long session to experience the beautiful transitions and story of Tyler Okonma and his musical interpretations of his own emotions throughout his career.