While writing this review, it is hard to believe how much a media presence Tyler Okonma has created despite being the same age as myself. Just by the age of 24, he has released 4 solo efforts and had a hand in production for 23 other artistic releases including the likes of Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, Pusha T, and Schoolboy Q. This fourth studio record, Cherry Bomb, came out of nowhere being announced less than a week before it’s sudden release on iTunes. Odd Future is known for making waves in the news landscape and surprise album releases are a good way to pull attention toward your music. Cherry Bomb seems like it could have used a lot more time on the production end to make it worth the news bulletin though.
Tyler, The Creator is most notable for changing up style to make each record slightly different than the others. His rap style has largely been the constant of his music, but the genre and style change-ups can be a bit jarring. Goblin was a grimy and dark album, only to followed up by the poppy and happier Wolf, and Cherry Bomb follows up Wolf by being his loudest and most cryptic album yet. The beats are constantly bombarding the listener with massive horns, bass, and samples that overpower the rapping which is mixed barely above a whisper at moments. He even attempts singing on a few instances which is charming but not in Tyler’s wheel house for anything other than a giggle.
To comment on the lyricism of Cherry Bomb is difficult due to poorly mixed grooves and beats that constantly mask any message he is trying to convey. Vocals range from mixed completely below a monstrous beat or clean and sung in a mocking tone. There are really less than a handful of tracks in which lyrics are easy to read, which seems odd for a genre so dependent on the use of vocals to paint a vivid picture. The one major surprise is the level of names he pulls for features on the record. Schoolboy Q drops a solid verse in the second half of the album despite the beat being too loud and distracting, while Kanye West jumps in for “Smuckers” and does his typically confused god complex to solid effect.
There are enjoyable moments on Cherry Bomb to be had though. “Deathcamp” opens up the album with a boisterous and energetic track that could be a good opener for a hip-hop album. The theme of not wanting to follow the rules is clear with the seemingly random lyrics and past work for Tyler, The Creator. “Buffalo” follows it up with a solid piano and bass driven beat that is the classic example on past records of what he does well. Speaking frankly about labels and managing fan expectations is something easy to see him struggle with. “Smuckers” is also highly enjoyable as the best produced track by a mile, and it never hurts to have Kanye West pop up to raise the energy level a good bit.
As a whole though, this is easily the most disappointing Tyler, The Creator record yet. Cherry Bomb is not only incredibly frustrating on a production level, but the even the lyrics disappoint when they are easy to read. The use of chipmunk vocals is always a bad sign for any album, and to have it carry a whole chorus is painful. Cherry Bomb feels like a record that was far from ready for release, and if anything feels more like a joke than a real entry in Tyler, The Creator’s growing discography. One might even argue, this will be where many of his fans jump off the wagon and go elsewhere for their hip-hop needs.
5. Find Your Wings
6. Cherry Bomb
7. Blow My Load
9. The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6-12
10. Fucking Young/Perfect
12. Keep Da O’s
13. Okaga, CA