Tyler, the Creator has the uncanny ability to produce music that is both alluring and repulsive at the same time – previous releases have been polarising to say the least, and Cherry Bomb is no different. It wasn’t expected, and it can be hard to follow at times, with no specific theme yelling out, musically or lyrically, unlike Tyler’s angst you feel throughout Goblin and Wolf, critical self-examination present on every track.
At one point you’ll be listening to Death Grips inspired experimental noise hip-hop, like on ‘Pilot. The issue some people might have with it likely stems from the fact that it’s so unexpected; the first song to get the heavy distortion treatment, it’s paired with a futuristic-vibe, synths strewn all over the track – preceded by the boom-bap bass heavy track ‘Buffalo’, it’s not too out of the blue. ‘Cherry Bomb’, on the other hand, is much more aggressive; the ‘drop’ (if you can call it that) honestly scared the shit out of me, Tyler yelling Yeezus-like “I am a God” statements in order to be heard above the noise. His roars barely noticeable, it’s clear he’s pushing his production and the instrumental to the forefront, and he succeeds on that front.
You were warned about the distortion – don’t blame me
At another point, in fact straight before the title track, you’ll be listening to ‘Find Your Wings’, a lounge music inspired piece that’s so relaxing you’d think you were listening to another album. Gentle synths slide over vibraphone/xylophone-esque trills, and Kali Uchis’ voice works extremely well on the track, having an almost angelic quality. The production you hear on this track actually display Tyler’s love of Pharrell Williams/N.E.R.D well too, jazz chords thrown in to add to the smooth listen. The ‘Find Your Wings’ motif is present throughout the album if you listen carefully enough.
“Richer than white people with black kids, scarier than black people with ideas” (West on ‘Smuckers’)
Cherry Bomb also has some fantastic features from Kanye West and Lil Wayne on the track ‘Smuckers’ – the pair honestly sound at their best on the track, Kanye’s flow reminiscent of his earlier days, with some fantastic bars to boot; Tyler bookends the song impressively also, fitting in with the big shots with ease, working well with the synth-sax instrumental. Schoolboy Q’s guest verse works perfectly on “The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6–12”, picking up where Tyler leaves off, aggressive and punchy in the last two verses. The drum track is comes in perfectly, and it might be the most ‘moshable’ song on the album, which some fans may be disappointed with. A lot of the questions that surround this album are to do with mixing; sometimes the vocals will be virtually inaudible, and it’ll sound like some songs have been recorded on an 8-track in someone’s garage – that being said, it’s undeniable that this is the album that Tyler wanted to create. It shows development in many ways over previous efforts, especially production-wise (perhaps one of the best decisions was the brevity of this record – it’s much shorter than what we’re used to from him). I’m hesitant to say Tyler’s becoming more mature, and every now and then he’ll throw in a “faggot” to catch you off-guard (like at the end of ‘Smuckers’), and even though ‘Fucking Young’ has a surprisingly moral idea behind it, it’s a funny concept nonetheless.
“Fuck your loud pack, and fuck your Snapchat” (Tyler on ‘Smuckers’)
If you are going to give this album a chance, you’re going to have to listen to it more than once. This article was written by Mo Hafeez.