Throughout the week, Tyler the Creator has been dropping hints of a new project. In California, billboards were spotted featuring a mysterious phone number. On June 14 he released a teaser video featuring Odd Future member Taco Bennett. None of this was at all a surprise to Tyler’s long-time fans. We all know he releases music on a two-year schedule.
‘Lumberjack’ is a Tyler the Creator style flex track
This leads us to ‘Lumberjack’. The new track is the lead single from Tyler’s forthcoming sixth album Call Me If You Get Lost. It is far edgier than many of Tyler’s recent releases. Since Tyler the Creator gained a large amount of attention with Igor and the art direction of Phil Toselli, it has become all too easy to forget his past notoriety as one of the foremost of popular culture’s internet trolls. As a fan, I’m excited to see what a return to his alternative hip hop roots.
This new single calls back to the past. It even features another Odd Future member Jasper Dolphin on backing vocals. A sharp 2-minute song, it is also mixed by Tyler’s long-time producer Dj Drama. I see ‘Lumberjack’ as Tyler’s interpretation of a flex track. In it, he boasts about his hard-won success.
A return to cynicism and classic hip hop
Tyler the Creator has not lost his trademark cynicism. He is not contemplating leaving California for Texas. (As many contemporaries are.) He’s moving to the US Mormon capital of Utah. “It never rains in Cali,” Tyler raps, “came with an umbrella.” As lyrics like these suggest, ‘Lumberjack’ is darker and more confrontational in tone. It’s a welcome contrast to the poppier stylings of Igor.
‘Lumberjack’ also travels even further back in time to the golden age of hip hop. The song’s intensity owes much to its sampling of 1994 hip-hop group Gravediggaz‘s ‘2 Cups of Blood.’ This outfit, old-school fans may recognize, included RZA from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan.
Call Me If You Get Lost album art.
Flipping the switch
For most of Tyler’s career, he has divided audiences. His explicit and offensive statements have set the internet and live audiences on fire. Furthermore, they have even led him to be banned from entering countries such as Australia. In 2019 the release of Igor flipped the switch. Reinventing his persona, Tyler gained widespread critical and mainstream acceptance.
The significance of ‘Lumberjack’
It will interesting to see if this return to his old-school sound will deliver something more reminiscent of Tyler’s Goblin-era characters. I also wonder how Igor-era fans will react to the new material’s grittier approach. With appearances from old Odd Future members and cover art eerily reflecting Tyler’s older work, it is hard not to think of this as something of a ‘comeback’. Tyler the Creator has captured the public’s attention by playing nice. Always testing boundaries, ‘Lumberjack’ now explores how much this newfound acclaim will allow him to get away with.
Tyler the Creator 'Lumberjack'7
It's really different
Still mad at Jesus