Review: Tyler, the Creator's 'Cherry Bomb' Is Messy and Surprisingly Beautiful

'Cherry Bomb' shows Tyler the Creator isn't going anywhere any time soon.

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Tyler, the Creator

Cherry Bomb

0 3.5 out of 5 stars
Odd Future Records, Sony
Featured Guest(s):
Kali Uchis, Schoolboy Q, Charlie Wilson, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Pharrell
Tyler, the Creator
Release Date :
April 13, 2015

"Tyler made a N.E.R.D. album," said everybody on Twitter. Whatever. The idea that Tyler would make music approximating Pharrell, Chad, and Shay’s group shouldn’t be surprising: Tyler, the Creator has made it clear time and time again that Pharrell is one of his major influences. It makes sense then that Cherry Bomb starts off like N.E.R.D.'s In Search Of... which did more for Tyler than Illmatic​ did. The album is a clusterfuck of diverse sounds in the best possible way. It's the next step in the the musical evolution of Tyler, the Creator. Gone are the brooding beats of Goblin and Wolf. The production here is an intricate mix of rock, soul, and hip-hop all wrapped in a beautiful, and, at times, distorted package.

On the intro track "DEATHCMAP," Odd Future's fearless leader raps over a frantic guitar riff that kinda, sorta sounds like "Lapdance," but without the drums. Like most of his work, it's a big fuck you to whoever keeps doubting him. He's here to do him and if it offends you, so fucking what. Get a life.

"So special the teacher asked if I was autistic/And now I'm making plates, you just washing the dishes/So if you don't mind, get the fuck out of my kitchen/But keep your ego here so I can butt fuck your opinion"

The garage rock continues to pervade the first portion of the album, starting with the title track "Cherry Bomb." A loud, boisterous affair, "Cherry Bomb"'s beat is completely blown out and distorted making the lyrics hard to hear, except for: "You motherfuckers want war? Then come get it." Perhaps Odd Future's in-house rock band, Trash Talk, helped Tyler with this sound. But really it sounds like some Death Grips shit that will make you want to break a face. It then comes down from it's crack high into a mellow melody that melts into the next track "Blowmyload." The transitions and pace of this album are incredible. Tyler's love and knowledge of music really shows here.

Gone are the brooding beats of Goblin and Wolf. The production here is an jovial mix of rock, soul, and hip-hop all wrapped in a beautiful and, at times, distorted package.

Colombian goddess Kali Uchis adds something special to this project. The two have great chemistry together having previously collaborated on "Call Me" from her Por Vida album released earlier this year. She makes "Find Your Wings" so soulful and goddamn lusty. "2Seater" with its violins, horns, and lo-fi bass that subtly knocks within your soul, Kali's voice, interlude, and breakdown about the wind blowing in her hair is perfection. 


"The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6-12 (Remix)" features Schoolboy Q going off like a goddamn madman and Tyler sets the table by throwing shots at trap druggie rappers with his best Juvenile impersonation. All of this happens on a hard-ass beat that has an awkward bounce to it. He also channels Skateboard P during one of the beat transitions when he spits these bars in his best Pharrell cadence:

"Don't get offended, love being darkskinned/23 with a crib and I don't got no tenants/And I don't like sports, but the court got a tennis/Is that diamonds on your neck? Stay the fuck out my bidness/See, that's that Cherry Bomb, get my burr on/That's McLaren, '91 out the Chevron/Motors Flog Gnaw,Vans on, fuck your Jordans/Went from throwing up to throwing carnivals"

The standout track is "Smuckers," though. When that fucking beat drops? And when Kanye spits a vintage verse? And when the beat switches up to some soulful, buttery shit and Weezy comes on? Oh. My. God. The beat fucking knocks. Tyler really went off behind the boards, I cannot stress that enough.

There's a method to Tyler's madness, he's not a rapper who lets a label decide his fate. He's not collaborating with some of the game's hottest rappers just for shits and giggles, or to make some bullshit radio hits. Tyler places them on songs for very particular reasons and manages to bring the best out of them because he is a creative genius, and that's what creative geniuses tend to do.


This motherfucker featured Pharrell on "Keep Da O's" and tweaked Skateboard's voice to sound like Eazy-E. Shit, I thought it was a sample at first. The entire track is an orgy of soundwaves and then suddenly transitions into calming '50s soul complete with finger snaps. There are only a handful of artists that can talk masters of their craft to play a role and three of them are featured on this album.

Cherry Bomb is Tyler's greatest creation to date. However, the album is bit of a mess in the beginning, and while Tyler's grown immensely as a producer, his rapping isn't consistently up to par. The standout songs are the ones propped up by gifted collaborators. One thing is for certain, though, Tyler and Odd Future ain't going nowhere. They're important. They're here to make us uncomfortable. They're here to remind us to have fun and do what the fuck you want to do. They're here to bend genres into one another. They're here to save us from ourselves like supreme beings from a distant land. Regardless of how Tyler expresses himself, one thing is clear: he pays homage to those that influenced him and he's not shy about it. And that is a rare thing. Cherish it.


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Angel Diaz is a staff writer for Complex Media. Follow him @ADiaz456.

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