In the mid-2000s, DJ Drama became one of the most sought after mixtape DJs in America. Drama, real name Tyree Cinque Simmons, formed the legendary Gangsta Grillz empire alongside Don Cannon, which is responsible for some of hip-hop’s most iconic mixtapes: Jeezy’s Trap or Die, Lil Wayne’s legendary Dedication series, and, notably, Pharrell’s In My Mind: Prequel. Drama and Cannon had the all of the marketing power of a record label and provided artists, both established acts and up-and-comers, an immediate platform. Whether or not they were aware of it, Drama had begun a whole new era in rap.
A decade and some change later, Tyler, the Creator returns with CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, an ode to this era of hip-hop. CMIYGL pays homage to Drama and Pharrell’s prequel tape to 2006’s In My Mind. An unlikely pairing at the time, but undoubtedly becoming another notable entry in both artists catalog. It only makes sense that Tyler, a devout disciple of Pharrell and The Neptunes, would follow in his idols footsteps. And yet, CMIYGL surpasses that project in nearly every way.
Charting Tyler’s career from 2009’s Bastard tape to now has been beautiful to behold. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is Tyler’s most mature effort to date, as he reflects on his successes, controversial past, and the importance of finding your own voice. As with his previous records, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST contains an entire world expertly crafted by Tyler himself. He’s always been auteur, adopting new personas in characters in his work. Notably, 2018’s IGOR where he played the titular character in a story about a love that fizzles out. That album was a huge transitional moment for Tyler, marking the shift from industry troll to a mainstream star. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST showcases something that we’ve known for a while: Tyler can rap.
Drama’s presence is felt throughout the entirety of the album while Tyler fully shines with some of his best verses. Whereas some of Tyler’s earlier albums had a clear abrasion to them, that’s been replaced with a sun-soaked new era full of 20th century passports, luxury suitcases, and brown sugar salmon.
Adopting the moniker of Tyler Baudelaire, a reference to the poet Charles Baudelaire, we see a side of the artist that knows and understands his worth. “It’s opulence, baby,” he muses on “BLESSED.” On first listen, a lot of CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST might just seem like a giant flex. And it is. Not many people can say that they had a million for Drake. This is the kind of flexing that’s cultured, well-mannered, and well-traveled. The visuals are very reminiscent of Wes Anderson and his articulately crafted universe. Simply put, it’s immaculate.
Charles Baudelaire’s poetry is notable for exploring romance, passion, and realism. Segments of “The Flowers of Evil,” his most lauded work, were banned and Baudelaire was deemed as an offender of public morality. The parallels between Baudelaire and Tyler run deep, especially considering Odd Future’s controversial rise to fame in the early 2010’s and everything that came with it. The ways in which individuals change over time is a key theme on CMIGYL, as he addresses on “MANIFESTO.”
I came a long way from my past, nigga, it’s obvious
V12 engine, I’m fishtailin’ on some sloppy shit (Skrrt)
Internet bringin’ old lyrics up, like I hide the shit
What’s your address, I could probably send you a copy, bitch
I was canceled before canceled was with Twitter fingers (Haha)
Protestin’ outside my shows, I gave them the middle finger
On “MASSA,” Tyler explains the ways that travelling out LA changed his point of view on life. He even references his divisive 2015 album Cherry Bomb and why it sounded so “shifty.” Transience is such a big part of the experience. CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST, much like the best travelogues, paints the destination as a mythical place with a holy reverence. But what is the destination for Tyler Baudelaire? And despite having all of these luxuries, do these things bring fulfillment? These are questions that are beneath the grandeur raps.
Whatever your shit is, man, do it
Whatever bring you that immense joy, do that, that’s your luxury
The greatest thing that ever happened to me was
Bein’ damn near twenty and leavin’ Los Angeles for the first time
I got out my bubble, my eyes, just wide
My passport is the most valuable—
Tyler handles producer duties on the album and the growth can be felt in his area too. His use of samples like Gravediggaz’ “2 Cups of Blood” add a sinister force to “LUMBERJACK,” while “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” and “WUSYANAME” explore the immaculately crafted neo-soul and R&B that was present on IGOR and Flower Boy. On this record, however, the mixes are so much smoother. Far gone are the barebones production techniques of those early Odd Future albums.
CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is a masterful record. For someone that’s had such a hectic path to success, Tyler, the Creator has continued to create art on an extremely high level. Not many people are able to maintain this level of control of their creation, much less pull it off. A decade into his career, Tyler shows no signs of slowing down. All praise to the Creator.