In terms of self-fulfilling album titles, Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Scum Fuckk Flower Boy’ ticks every box. The former Odd Future pioneer’s signature style can be split in half. One is the ‘Scum F**k’ side, a snarling eye for controversy, like the time he appeared to eat a cockroach and hang himself in a 2011 video for ‘Yonkers’. But the other half of Tyler is all beauty and free-thinking, and his ‘Flower Boy’ side takes centre stage on this fourth album. Backed by a supporting cast of R&B superstars and bright newcomers, it’s a record of long, lazy summers; sitting back and staring at the clouds.
Star guests provide almost as much of the record’s appeal as Tyler himself. He’s handpicked acts who can evoke a very specific emotion – a balance between tranquillity and loneliness. Frank Ocean gives his usual dose of zen on ‘Where This Flower Blooms’. Rex Orange County, a little-known 19-year-old from Surrey, provides breezy vocals on ‘Foreword’ and ‘Boredom’. Estelle (remember her?) makes an unlikely comeback on ‘Garden Shed’.
But Tyler steals the show by exploring those two sides of his personality, whether it’s the cutting jolt of ‘November’ or the summertime glaze of ‘911/ Mr. Lonely’ and ‘Glitter’. In the record’s biggest talking point, fans have also speculated that ‘I Ain’t Got Time’ is Tyler’s way of coming out. In 2016, he was banned from entering the UK after the Home Office claimed his lyrics supported homophobia and acts of terrorism. But here he raps: “I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004”.
One thing is certain: this is his universe and headspace, laid out for all to see. There remains a sense that he could go even further in refining his wild invention, but he’s on an upward trajectory, getting ever closer to fully realising his potential.