Following the underwhelming and ultimately disappointing Cherry Bomb from 2015, Tyler, The Creator rediscovers his undeniable talent as an artist with Scum Fuck Flower Boy (or simply Flower Boy) – a project that resumes the exciting sonic direction attained on Wolf.
Listeners will instantly recognise that Tyler has returned to emphasising his Neptunes-influenced, soulful Jazz vibes via his production, which as a consequence allows him to effectively demonstrate his reflective thoughts at various points throughout the album’s 14 tracks, making for some of his best work since 2013. Tyler has always been extremely personal within his lyrical content and overall themes of his albums, regularly referring to issues surrounding mental health, ever since his re-enactment of therapy sessions on Bastard. On Scum Flower, though, its Tyler’s regular references to his sexuality that was highlighted early by listeners and has become one of the most prominent topics when discussing the body of work.
The first we heard of the album was the single ‘Who Dat Boy’, which features A$AP Rocky, and almost acts an ode to the energy that first allowed Tyler to burst into the mainstream. In this sense, the single particularly (as well as perhaps ‘I Ain’t Got Time’) stands apart from the rest of the album, as elsewhere Tyler executes a mature sound that some may have expected on Cherry Bomb. Preceding ‘Who Dat Boy’, the opening four tracks (‘Foreword’, ‘Where This Flowers Bloom’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘See You Again’) are all obvious examples of how much The Neptunes/N*E*R*D’s style has inspired Tyler, with intense synths and enchanting melodies being at the forefront of the instrumentation. This leads to Tyler adhering to the trend of a lot of rappers these days, it seems, as he incorporates a lot more singing, although he also calls upon the assistance of Frank Ocean and Kali Uchis among others.
His other major musical influences are also exhibited impressively throughout the project, with highlights including ‘Pothole’, which features Jaden Smith and Roy Ayers. And Ayers isn’t the only reference to 70/80s Soul as Tyler also pays homage to The Gap Band by reciting their melodic chorus from ‘Outstanding’ on ‘911 / Mr. Lonely’.
Further notable efforts come in the form of ‘Boredom’ and ‘November’, the latter of the two having a more serious tone compared to the usual Tyler output, with its extremely introspective lyrics akin to Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Coulda Been’. Fittingly, Pharrell lends some additional vocals on the instrumental outro ‘Enjoy Right Now, Today’, a track that carries multiple elements that further support evidence of Tyler’s adoration for The Neptunes/N*E*R*D sound. Another entertaining Lil’ Wayne collaboration comes via the irregularly structured ‘Droppin’ Seeds’, where Tyler only vocally contributes a hook at the end of a one-minute-eleven-second track.
Slum Fuck Flower Boy is most definitely Tyler, The Creator back to the level of artistry that was developed, honed and showcased on Wolf. He has managed to effectively harness all of his influences without losing the mark of originality that has made him such a popular figure since the turn of the decade. Unlike on Cherry Bomb, Tyler’s talents both as a producer and an emcee can be fully appreciated, making for Scum Fuck Flower Boy becoming one of his finest and most accomplished projects to date.