The past few weeks have featured a lot of notable album drops, a couple of which I’ve already discussed. In favor of saving time, I decided to highlight a few great releases from the past week in one consolidated review.
Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
Tyler Okonma, known popularly as Tyler, the Creator, has had one of hip-hop’s most interesting character arcs. Jumpstarting his rap career in 2009 with the mixtape Bastard, Tyler and his Odd Future gang became a cultural phenomenon in hip-hop and R&B. But over the course of the past decade, Tyler has continually reinvented himself, transitioning from an abrasive, potty-mouthed, angsty teenager with daddy issues, to a more mature, more sensitive young man who was publicly embracing his sexuality.
Tyler has established himself as one of rap’s more risk-taking artists, opting for a different musical direction on just about every album release. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise that Tyler opted to go even further left than he has on his other albums, on IGOR.
Lyrically, Tyler takes the softer moments from Cherry Bomb and Flower Boy and dials it to a hundred; IGOR is undebatably the most emotive we’ve ever seen the California rapper. Backed by experimental, synthy production and heavy pitch-tuning and frequent singing, Okonma delves into expressions of love, jealousy, and breaking up over the entirety of the 40-minute runtime. Tyler takes solo command of the production and arrangement of an album that is his most personal and emotionally-charged project yet.
Megan Thee Stallion – Fever
Following her 2018 project Tina Snow and the success of her single “Big Ole Freak,” Megan Thee Stallion — as we wrote in a recent artist spotlight — has become one of the most exciting new talents in hip-hop. With so many more eyes on the Houston rapper in anticipation of her debut record on the 300 Entertainment roster, it was important to bolster the hype by dropping a solid body of work that built off of her impressive resume thus far.
Despite wavering in terms of overall quality in comparison to her last project, Megan mostly sticks the landing on her latest mixtape Fever.
Megan brings back everything we loved about Tina Snow — confident, sensational shit-talking, impressive flows that harken back to Southern hip-hop legends, and unbelievably quotable bars, all of which she puts on display on highlights like “Realer,” “Cash Shit,” and “Simon Says.”
And to emphasize the “Hot Girl Meg” alter ego — which she described in an interview with Vulture Magazine as “the party girl” and “the turn-up queen” — Fever also contains less abrasive, more club-ready tracks like “Shake That” and “Big Drank.”
Fever is slightly hampered by filler, and there might not be a hit in the tracklist as big as “Big Ole Freak,” but it’s nonetheless another fun project from the burgeoning Houston torchbearer that will add to the hype for her proper debut studio album.
Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve
I am a strong believer that Arizona-based trio Injury Reserve is currently one of, if not the best rap group in the world of alternative hip-hop (this is definitely a topic for an interesting debate; I’m sure many people would contend in favor of Brockhampton). There aren’t many hip-hop acts who successfully marry the elements of intriguing songwriting (courtesy of frontmen Stepa Groggs and Ritchie With a T), creative production (courtesy of producer Parker Corey), and consistent quality, the way that Injury Reserve has over the course of the past few years. So it’s no surprise that their debut, self-titled album is not just great, but is also their most artistically realized project to date.
The trio doubles up on their best qualities while going in a sonic direction that is more inclusive of the wide range of sounds they’ve tackled in the past. And beyond just sounding incredible, the crew incorporates some very creative ideas — such as the brilliant “Rap Song Tutorial,” in which an AI voice assists Ritchie in constructing a banger, step-by-step — and touch on an astounding number of topics too — from contemporary fashion trends on lead single “Jawbreaker,” to mental health and reflections of the past on “What a Year It’s Been,” to anecdotes about the transformative power of music on “Hello!”
What did you think of these albums? What were some of your favorite music releases from the past week?