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Is the rapper once banned from the UK for homophobic lyrics now coming out? Either way, this heavenly hip-hop record visits multicoloured corners of his mind
Like a lot of great artists, Tyler, the Creator is hard to figure out, especially regarding how much of a character he’s been playing on his records. On Bastard – his 2009 debut, an online release made when he was 18 that is too musically accomplished and lyrically lacerating to dismiss as a mixtape – he set a mischievous, even malevolent, tone with songs about rape and mutilation that dared listeners to wonder how fictional a creation the rapper was. His albums since – Goblin (2011), Wolf (2013) and Cherry Bomb (2015) – have mixed piteous confessions with homicidal obscenities, but always with the arch tone of a detached observer. That Tyler has established himself as a video director (not to mention festival entrepreneur, and photobook and media app creator) has furthered the sense of a renaissance man amusing himself before making the inevitable move to something grownup, like making movies.
But Flower Boy – promoted in the weeks since it leaked as Scum Fuck Flower Boy – doesn’t seem like the work of someone treating music as a trifle. In fact, it feels like a statement, even a concept, an impression enhanced by reports that Flower Boy marks Tyler’s coming out.