Television and Radio Criticism

"911/ Mr. Lonely" by Tyler, the Creator

Artist Tyler the, Creator breaks rapper stereotypes showing a more vulnerable, genuine side of himself, using his art as the messenger. This track gives a bit of a taste of Tyler's true character, learning to embrace it, slowly removing his old mask.

“911/Mr. Lonely”, one of the tracks from Tyler, the Creator’s newest record Flower Boy, is a funky, catchy tune that later splits into two contrasting beats, and oddly enough, fits together perfectly. Then again, ‘odd’ should not come off as a surprise when talking about Tyler. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, OFWGKTA for short, was not exactly appreciated by many people. This “slightly terrifying” rap group –co-founded by Tyler back in 2007 – rapped, and sometimes yelled, about sex, drugs, their damaged selves, anarchy, and various other obscenities. People described their raps as too dark and disturbing, failing to see their talent.

Tyler, the Creator’s first two records, Bastard and Goblin, were mere reflections of what Odd Future was. Fast forward to Wolf and Cherry Bomb, you can see a slight shift of style starting to take place. With those two records, there is symphony of strings and even a jazz influence, morphed into the Odd Future style. But, prior to Flower Boy, people still recognized him as that satanic dude who ate a cockroach. This new era for Tyler is one like no other. Beside from releasing it through Columbia Records and not the Odd Future label, this most recent album is Tyler’s way of taking off a mask he has worn for years. “911/ Mr. Lonely” gives a general sense of his true identity as well as old and recurring struggles. He does not care, as usual, about the concept of masculinity. Tyler openly talks about his emotions, struggles, and hints of his sexuality in this track. Unlike other rappers who mostly rap about women and partying, Tyler’s lyrics express something entirely different.

The song “911/ Mr. Lonely” starts off with a melodic, funky beat. Tyler begins by introducing himself as Mr. Lonely and continues on to sing the chorus. Shortly after, he goes off with the first verse. He goes on about how lonely he feels and how “thirsty” he is for some love. Tyler slickly implies his homosexuality right after that, sending out a message to possible interests to hit him up. Musician Steve Lacy, singer Anna of the North, and of course Frank Ocean all assisted in perfecting “911”, making it one of the best tracks in the album. Their sweet, soothing voices compliment the song, giving the audience something they did not know they needed. During the bridge and the chorus, those who are into the 1970’s funky, R&B, soul era might recognize The Gap Band’s “Outstanding” track being sampled, weirdly so fitting right in. After Ocean finishes verse two, Tyler, the Creator begins to set a more serious tone for the second part of the song. Generally, this song, stays on the topic of solidarity. In verse three, Tyler puts emphasis through his lyrics of being lonely despite his lavish, well-heeled lifestyle. Despite all the cars he has, to Tyler, that will never compare to the love he yearns for and so desperately needs. The materialistic components of his life mean nothing without someone to share them with by his side. He ends the first part, “911”, by saying that he can’t keep pretending to be happy, tired of acting like his loneliness does not affect him.

Part two of the song is “Mr. Lonely”, a less funky more beat aggressive, darker section of the track pulling you in, its intro accompanied by hip-hop artists A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, and other of his friends. According to Tyler, during this part he is opening up and just complaining to his friends about being alone. He admits being loud, acting wacky and being an “attention seeker” is a façade to hide, or try to ignore, the fact that he feels like the loneliest person ever. Later, he also takes a shot at himself saying that he is a fake that makes songs with his various non-existent alter egos. As the song plays on, he questions whether the stuff that used to make him happy, like his cars, is enough to fill his emptiness.

“911/Mr. Lonely” shows a side of Tyler, the Creator people aren’t used to seeing. He goes against society’s norms, showing his true emotions while simultaneously blessing our ears with his creations.

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