IGOR by Tyler, The Creator Explained

Upon first listen of Tyler’s 6th album, IGOR, I did not like it. I’m lame, so I tweeted my initial reaction without any actual thought, or consideration:

For context, I’ve been a fan since 2012. I remember “A Day In Ladera.” Sadly, I know every word to Bastard’s self-titled intro. I have a YT playlist called “favorite tyler videos / interviews.” One thing I should know by now? His albums are super weird, but oddly engrossing. They’re never predictable. They hit the ear different. Why I thought I could half-listen to IGOR at 7am before work and make an accurate judgement call is beyond me… I must’ve been really f*cking tired.

Who is IGOR?

This is like asking who is Wolf Haley, Tron Cat, or Flower Boy. It’s a character, another persona, created on the outskirts of Tyler’s mind. Each conjured personality has its own intentions, quirks, and infatuations; they live in designated worlds, each fitting into whatever story, or plot, Tyler arranges for them. For example, Dr. TC, the therapist on his first two projects, was created with purpose. Objectively, Dr. TC plays a psychologist, but figuratively, he acts as a soundboard for young Tyler to discuss deeper, more personal matters — matters he was perhaps too immature to speak on directly at the time. This is the coolest part about his seemingly random, exaggerated personifications: every one exists for a specific reason and expression.

IGOR is sullen and glum, yet electrified by love. Behind shades, he is reserved and curious; on stage, he‘s wild, elegant, and passionate. At times, IGOR’s atmosphere is magnetically intricate and abstract — others, it’s brash, disgruntled, and ridden with corny love tantrums.

It goes without saying, but Tyler’s style of composition is one-of-a-kind. Simply put, his production is really creative and unique. In fact, this is mostly why I enjoyed his music back in the off-shoot, deranged “Odd Future” era. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrical shock-value was cool. I liked the skating stuff, too. But, most of all, Tyler’s ear for production and storytelling capabilities captured me as a fan. Front to back, IGOR is just that; it encapsulates those qualities I admire and appreciate so much.

IGOR features a smorgasbord of instrumentation, the most notable being: 80’s brass synths, thick-amped basses, and distorted strings. There’s also a healthy dosage of piano (both electric and grand), some rare percussive hits, and plenty of arpeggiated, ear-tickling leads.

Vocal-wise, it’s a mystery. It’s difficult to discern which harmony came from where and who sang what — so much so that I don’t even care to determine the source. All I know is Tyler directed who to sing where and, let me tell you, it works. Across the board, the vocals are a treat.

IGOR’s Specialties

Like I said, when I first heard this, I didn’t like it. And I know exactly why: I had expectations. I anticipated it to play a certain way, so when it sounded like nothing I imagined, I chalked it up as “not for me.” But I didn’t even give it a freakin’ chance! That was dumb and stupid of me. It’s really easy to disregard what’s unfamiliar and out-of-the-ordinary, but we have to keep an open mind about what we can potentially like. That way we keep looking. Trusting T, I came around and realized how much I actually appreciate IGOR. Tyler has a true knack for orchestrating beautiful progressions and melodies that sound strange initially, but are total ear-worms in the end. Here are my favorites:

  • EARFQUAKE’s chorus has this needle-thin synth that floats quietly underneath the booming 808s; it carries the entire composition.
  • The bridge on I THINK reminds me of this one time I got space-monkeyed in middle school — it sounds like where I went when I passed out.
  • On RUNNING OUT OF TIME when he says “I been looking for it” and “keep it up!
  • In NEW MAGIC WAND, when he says “I saw a photo, you look joyous” and that electirc piano slides in, it’s the bees knees. Oh, and the cowbell. Dude really turned the cowbell into a hi-hat.
  • Kanye says “A-to-Z” on PUPPET so that feels like a little shout out, hehe.
  • If you watched the WHAT’S GOOD video, you know the best part is when camera freezes and the synth goes HAM. Obvioulsy, duh.
  • I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE is my favorite song.

IGOR’s success is indicative of Tyler’s creativity and vision. He is constantly reinventing not only himself, but the entire soundtrack to whatever concept he sees in his head. Tyler’s naivity and defiance from his younger years have blossomed into what I’d call “creative arrogance.” He’s eager to produce and execute new themes and patterns and apply his imagination to whatever character, story, or idea he fosters next.

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store