I have been wanting to take the time to write about a full album for a while now. When IGOR came out, I decided that it was finally time.
Seeing as album interpretations can be very subjective, I would like to invite all of you to share your own interpretations or thoughts about the album.
To give you a little overview of what I already know is going to be a long post, here is how it is structured:
- IGOR: The love child of old and new
- Dissections/interpretations of each track on the album
- My reflection/review
IGOR: The love child of old and new
Throughout the album, I felt like Tyler mixed some of his older elements with some of his new ones. Tyler is an artist that has had an incredibly evolved sound since Flower Boy. The beginnings of this change can even be felt in some of his earlier work, such as Cherry Bomb (SMUCKERS immediately comes to mind).
Being a huge fan of Tyler’s ever since Goblin and Cherry Bomb, I am here for all of the growth and change in his sound and music in general. I have said it before and I will say it again – why would you want an artist to stay in the same box forever? If their taste changes, if they change, then naturally their music will change with that. One of the most beautiful things about music to me is that it can document the experiences artists go through and how it affects them later on.
What I love about Tyler is that he is unapologetically himself, no matter what. In his latest music video for the lead single of IGOR, EARFQUAKE, you will see that his appearance is almost comedic. I love that neither he nor is music its what you would expect from a “typical rapper”. I love that it is something different, something true to himself.
1. IGOR’S THEME
I have three words: WHAT AN OPENING. I was anxiously awaiting IGOR for a while and the second I heard the song start, I knew this was going to be an album I would enjoy.
IGOR’S THEME itself repeats itself often, but not without purpose. It is meant to set the tone for the rest to come, to be the basis for everything else. In a way, I feel like IGOR’S THEME is the basic idea of the album, whereas the rest of the tracks go into detail and tell the story.
“For real, for real, for real this time” are the opening words of EARFQUAKE. It is the lead single of the entire album and the first song of the album to have a music video.
EARFQUAKE itself paints a picture of a relationship that is slowly fading. “Don’t leave, it’s my fault” he almost seems to say pleadingly. The chorus conveys that he is head over heels for a person and completely dependent on them.
The chorus goes as follows: “Cause you make my earth quake, oh, you make my earth quake/riding around, your love is shakin’ me up and it’s making my heart break“. It conveys that he is head over heels for a person and completely dependent on them.
EARFQUAKE also features fellow rapper Playboi Carti. I am conflicted on this feature because he sounds like me when I’m trying to sing along to a song I don’t fully know the lyrics to. It works in this song, but didn’t overly impress me.
3. I THINK
What I find interesting in I THINK is that he mentions “I’m your puppet” at 01:33 – which is a direct reference to the 8th track on the album, PUPPET. In this verse in general he almost sounds angry, yet he always comes back to the chorus: “I think I’ve fallen in love….This time I think it’s for real” (which Solange sings).
4. EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING
The next track is a little snippet from Jarrod Carmichael, a comedian:
“Exactly what you run from, you end up chasing….Giving it everything that you can. There’s always an obstacle.”
What I like about this is that he continues to include quotes by Carmichael throughout the rest of the album. There is a certain level of consistency he achieves by doing this and by using IGOR’S THEME almost like a recurring symbol.
5. RUNNING OUT OF TIME
“Running out of time, running out of time….to make you love me”.
RUNNING OUT OF TIME is what I like to call the show and tell of IGOR. In this, he goes into detail about the obstacles referenced in the quote by Carmichael in the previous track.
He seems to reveal that the person he has fallen in love with is a man who is not willing to openly commit to his sexuality (references: “living in pretence”, “take your mask off”, “stop lying to yourself”).
In addition to this, another obstacle presents itself: his love interest is seeing a woman (reference: “her”).
6. NEW MAGIC WAND
In NEW MAGIC WAND Tyler is definitely more angry (reference: “I need to get her out the picture”) and is growing more and more jealous. It starts with another quote by Carmichael: “Sometimes you gotta close a door to open a window.”
Despite his jealousy and anger towards this other woman, he still pleads for his love interest to stay and be with him (reference: “Please don’t leave me now”). In a way, he urges him to choose between the two (reference:“Don’t call me selfish I ain’t sharing”, “You under oath, now pick a side and if you don’t“) and is sick of being stuck in a love triangle.
“I can make her leave…like magic…new magic wand“; Many believe that he is referencing the editing tool in Photoshop, with which he could most definitely get her out of the picture – quite literally.
Sound-wise, NEW MAGIC WAND reminds me of Tyler’s older stuff, especially with the almost aggressive way the song starts after Carmichael’s quote.
7. A BOY IS A GUN*
“Don’t, don’t shoot me down”
A BOY IS A GUN is the song that confirms that Tyler’s love interest is indeed a man (reference: “cause you’re my favourite garçon”). He seems to be torn between writing his love interest off (reference: “yeah I’m brushing you off”) and wanting him to stay (reference: “don’t leave, stay right here”).
He also urges him again to make a decision between him and the other woman (reference: “make your fucking mind up I am sick of waiting patiently”).
In general, A BOY IS A GUN portrays Tyler’s inner battle with himself; Knowing that the guy is not good for him but still wanting him interest to choose him. It shows how conflicted he really is about the whole relationship.
The song ends with him deciding to end the relationship and “leave it as friends” because “I don’t want to see you again”.
After deciding to end things, Tyler misses his love interest desperately (references: “I wanna talk, I wanna call you and talk”, “I want your company, I need your company”).
In PUPPET we realise how deep his love interest has his hooks in Tyler and get a look into how the relationship functions. Tyler would do anything for him (reference: “I’m your puppet, you control me”) but is now aware of the dynamics between them: “I do not have self control/I am startin’ to wonder/is this my free will or yours?“.
PUPPET features Kanye West, who tells Tyler to “breathe” numerous times. I am quite fond of a theory by Chris Lambert in Forbes; in it, he suggests that Kanye might be Tyler’s conscience. He mentions this in reference to one of Kanye’s background lines – “Did I wait too long?” – which seems to suggest that Kanye, in some way, must be a representation of Tyler and/or his thoughts.
With another Carmichael quote at the end of the song – “But at some point… you come to your senses” – Tyler leads us straight to the next song:
9. WHAT’S GOOD
WHAT’S GOOD starts off in a very sinister, dark way. The overall theme in this track seems to be trying to move on and accepting defeat.
“If the cop says my name / bitch I’m IGOR” – this line seems to paint IGOR as an alter ego of sorts. My theory is that the alter ego exists to help him deal with his loss and pain; it makes him feel strong and in control.
In 01:54 Tyler transitions from one state to another perfectly, almost taking his anger to a next level, hinting at revenge. IGOR’s ego seems to be growing by the second until we approach the song’s end.
To me, WHAT’S GOOD also seems to be reminiscent of Tyler’s older music and has a very similar, if not a somewhat evolved sound to it.
The song ends with another quote by Carmichael, showcasing some cracks and vulnerabilities in Tyler’s alter ego: “I don’t know what’s harder/letting go or just being okay with it”.
10. GONE, GONE / THANK YOU
The 10th songs of Tyler’s albums always seem to be a fusion of two songs. In his previous album, Flower Boy, his 10th song was “911 / Mr. Lonely”, with IGOR, it’s GONE, GONE / THANK YOU.
With the end of WHAT’S GOOD, GONE, GONE immediately follows, this time with more of an upbeat tune, even if he is still painfully aware of the fact that “my love’s gone“.
At the same time Tyler still references back to the other woman in the picture, stating “I hope you know she can’t compete with me”. Yet he seems to accept defeat (reference: “I just hope to God she got the taste/to put you on some shit you never seen“). This shows that although he keeps reminding himself that his love is gone, he is still hurt but “not bitter” at the whole situation. At the end of GONE, GONE, he even says that he has “found peace”.
Which is why at 4:37, the song transitions into its second half, THANK YOU. In this half he seems to thank his love interest for everything, ending it with a heartbreakingly sad “I will never fall in love again”.
11. I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE
I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE is pretty self-explanatory through the title alone. Tyler is trying to move on with his life (references: “realize there’s more fish in the sea“, “Move it on, but how?”).
Leaving it as hopeless and broken as he did in the last track (“I will never fall in love again“), he is finally ready to give love another shot (references: “Can I have my heart back?“, “I won’t walk around with my head down like I got beat up“).
The production on this track is incredible and the song gets me every.single.time. I think everyone can relate to the struggle of moving on and leaving the past in the past. It can be an incredible long and hard process, one Tyler depicts perfectly.
12.ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?
The transition between I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE and ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? is impeccable. The 12th and final track poses the question of a possible friendship between Tyler and his ex.
For this track, he uses a sample of Al Green’s song called “Dream”. Which gives it, funnily enough, a very dream-like quality of sound. However, when he poses the question of “Are we still friends?” and more importantly “Can we still be friends?“, the tone becomes very clear and straight-forward; This is a question that he wants an answer to.
The use of the sample and especially its title also hold a specific purpose: they allude to the fact that a friendship between Tyler and his ex is a dream he clings onto.
As GONE, GONE transitions into THANK YOU (track 10), we hear yet another quote from Carmichael: “I hate wasted potential. That shit crushes your spirit. It really does. It crushes your soul“. Tyler sees the potential he and his ex had and wishes for it to continue – if not in a relationship, then in a friendship.
IGOR: BETTER THAN FLOWER BOY?
This is the ultimate question I find myself asking myself. In the end, I think my answer is a mixture between yes and no.
I will start with the ‘no’ – Flower Boy offered a musical arrangement that is hard to beat and gave us listeners something completely new. It was like nothing we had heard from Tyler / in general before. Flower Boy was globally recognized and deserved to be. Overall, Flower Boy was an album I listened to once and was completely on board with from that moment forward. With IGOR, I had to listen to a few tracks a couple of times before getting into them fully.
The ‘yes’ stems from the fact that first and foremost, IGOR tells a story. It presents us a beginning and an end, making it full-cycle. On top of that, IGOR is reminiscent of Tyler’s old music (as mentioned at the very beginning of this post). Especially NEW MAGIC WAND* and WHAT’S GOOD take me back to the ‘old Tyler’ and it was good to see that he is still a part of Tyler. Mixed with his evolved sound, IGOR creates a steady balance between his two distinctive styles, which I enjoyed immensely. I also thought that Tyler got more personal with IGOR but maybe that’s only because it was a continuous story rather than many smaller ones.
Ultimately, I will never be able to choose between any of his albums – they represent different times in his life and for that alone I appreciate all of them immensely. All of them have their unique quirks and sounds and to me, that is why I find it hard to compare them with each other.
Tyler is one of my favourite artists in so many ways – he shows true versatility and isn’t afraid to be different. He manages to constantly surprise me with everything he does. In simple words; I am a fan of everything he does. I find his weirdness to be infectious, it’s almost like he is encouraging us to be ourselves, no matter what that may look like. In his music, he is true to himself – so why shouldn’t we be the same?
⌲ What are your thoughts on IGOR?
This is the first time I have done a full album interpretation / review, so definitely let me know what you thought of this post! Would you like to read more of these? Your feedback is a tremendous help, so please don’t be shy!