Album Reviews

Cherry Bomb – Tyler, the Creator

Final rating: 5.4/10

Odd Future certainly has had just that. They were one of the tightest rap collectives in years. Wolf gang and its acronym Golf wang were stitched into every snap back. At a time these were uncomfortable titles. Now, they’re as good as memes. The members of Odd Future have grown up and discovered their careers outside of this nauseating outfit that had edge at one point. Tyler, the Creator broke out in both the mainstream and in vicious hives. He was a sensation while he punished himself and bit into a live cockroach. Yes, these young artists scared us in a way that was possibly comparable to the impact NWA once made. They, too, were a parents’ worst nightmare and a threat to the wholesome mainstream.

What Odd Future lacked was a proper statement. Its separate members have slowly come to say their own pieces. Frank Ocean is now a respected r&b singer with accolades to his name. Earl Sweatshirt has continued to be a force of lyrical wonder in the hip hop scene. Gone are the days where nails are being ripped off in music videos. These careers are partially thanks to Tyler, the Creator. He wound up the groups members as a means to attack the world. Everyone feels settled but the ringmaster himself. Tyler, the Creator has finished his trilogy of therapeutic waltzes that was capped off with the decent release Wolf. Like his contemporaries, it was finally time for Tyler to realize his big break.

That has yet to happen, and it is really upsetting. I’m not the biggest fan of Tyler, the Creator, but this man clearly is one of the hardest workers in hip hop. He tries his hand at everything and is at his friends’ every call for help. He has tried to create identities and magic since the very beginning. Who wouldn’t want to see hard work finally pay off? Cherry Bomb is such an honest effort. When releasing the album, Tyler, the Creator went to the Internet to say how excited and proud of this album he was. He tried to bring so many sounds to this release. He really did go above and beyond to exercise his production and song writing capabilities. For that, Cherry Bomb is respectable.

The issue is that Cherry Bomb is full of ideas. It knows how sounds can be pieced together but not what makes them truly work well. He has his hand in so many genre cookie jars (hip hop, soul, punk and even experimental electronic) that he forgets that not every cookie tastes good with other flavors in one bite; Not when you cram them in your mouth, anyways. Some songs jusy carry on and on simply because the genre associated with said song usually calls for it. 2Seater goes on for a while because r&b usually works in length. Tyler doesn’t include the necessary mystique required to pull off the length, and by the time you reach the skit at the very end, you’ll still be looking back at how a possibly good song ended up being a test.

When songs try to swerve between genres drastically, it almost feels as sour as the album cover (well, any of the five possible options; take your pick). Blow My Load is a bizarre series of measures that work on a basic level, but you have little time to see where each piece can go before you are interrupted. The biggest issue with the album is the undeniable capability it has. So many songs have great moments but are either struggling bores or awkward bitters instead. Cherry Bomb as a song is great in concept, but you simply cannot hear Tyler amidst the sheer noise (a failure to mix styles). The song is catchy and almost earth shattering otherwise, until it ends with a strangely placed singalong finale that renders the song only a partial success. Smuckers is a gang effort with Lil Wayne and Kanye West that should have been a banger but instead overstays its welcome like rowdy drunks that simply won’t leave a bar after closing time.

Tyler, the Creator gets the theory but not the heart within the music. Only two songs end up being complete triumphs and they are, oddly enough, the opener Deathcamp (a razor sharp punch to the stomach very worthy of leading the album into battle) and the closer OKAGA, CA (which is lush, gentle and lovely). Every other song has problems. It is almost as if the entire songs have not finished downloading yet and are either choppy or strained as the result of a failed transfer. These two songs are, quite easily, some of the best work Tyler, the Creator has ever come up with, and these are two moments that truly indicate the raw potential he possesses. Cherry Bomb is not the album he will take over the world with. It’s a true effort, but this new approach he displays has a lot to learn and much time to mature.

The album bears the name of a song by the queens of noise, The Runaways: another collective that went their separate ways. Odd Future are still a group, but most of its members are barely even associated with it anymore. Tyler, the Creator is still heavily linked to the group possibly because it was his brainchild. You can only use so many homophobic words and sarcastic self remarks, though. The time has come for Tyler, the Creator to finally fulfill the same talents he saw within his peers. Cherry Bomb was so close to this but so far. We will need a montage or an ending climax for this young karate kid to officially see what he had all along, perhaps.

At least that therapist gimmick is finally gone, though.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.