« Dissect

S4E2 - Foreword by Tyler, The Creator

2019-04-30

We begin our season long analysis of Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator with the album’s opening track “Foreword.” We find Tyler laying out the themes that will be explored throughout Flower Boy as he questions his success, his chronic loneliness, and the nature of life itself.

New episodes of Dissect release every Tuesday. For 60 free days of Spotify Premium, visit spotify.com/promo/dissect.

Follow @dissectpodcast on Twitter and Instagram.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today's episode of dissect is brought in by Spotify. When you listen to dissect on Spotify you'll get episodes a week early and have access to exclusive Spotify only bonus episodes, while Pike for free on Spotify I'd like to give you a chance to explore. Is everything the platform as to offer visits. if I dont com, slash, promo, slash dissect for sixty three days. Spotify premium valid in the? U S and UK only again enjoy sixty days of Spotify premium for free by visitor, Spotify Dotcom, Slash, promo, slash dissect from but if I studios this is dissect long for musical analysis broken into short digestible episodes. I'm your host poker,
Today we begin our civilised analysis of flour, boy by Tyler. The creator on Ireland the episode we did Tyler's ascension from teenage internet kid, the internet, artist and ringleader of the creative collective, odd future for years and four hours later found Tyler in the year twenty fifteen thinking that is career was in jeopardy on future. Had officially disbanded he'd been banned from third countries,
and its most recent album Charivari had been met with mixed reviews and Tyler's mine. His next album needed to be good, really good. I just knew if this outcome was a good, I will be fought less. I felt, as some people would disagree, but, unlike man, I'm not I'm nothing. I now feel that way come and alter about yea. Every waited Tyler would use twenty sixteen to create what would become the album flower boy released July. Seventeenth, two thousand seven team, as will discover throughout the season. Fire boy was very much a creative reaction against cherry bomb, where cherry bomb sonically, eclectic and experimental flower boys, fuller, rich harmony, and alluring Loring melodies, where cherry bombers Liberally, impersonal, far boys, emotionally intimate and revealing and were cherry bomb, is a collection of distinct, independent songs, Flower boy is a meticulously organised concept, album each track where
to accelerate a larger narrative about Tyler's emotional journey to self discovery, specifically fire boys position as a car right during a golden, our sunset we'll find Tyler using his luxury sports car. Literally an symbolically as a way to escape the emotional turmoil and chronic loneliness. He feels within over the course of the album we'll hit a number of roadblocks, red lights and potholes, Tyler drives toward it as yet undetermined destination, but before the car right begins far boys first preface with an opening track that introduces are protagonists Tyler and his anxiety. and state of mind and emotional and mental instability that will drive him to well drive away from his problems. this album opener is the subject of our episode today, aptly titled for
How many hawks cannot, by one of its most robbed him of having a most rose to make payments, are much less chemically. It is allowed to run an Enigma like the majority of flour. Boys forward is written and produce by Tyler the creator Additional riding credits are given to the artist Rex Orange County, who appears on the songs hook forwards, legal foundation is constructed on a sample of Sonic youth, remakes of the song spoon by experimental german band Camp
or their remakes sonic youth slows the temple of cans, original track, Tyler grabs a sample of Sonic Youth, spoon, remakes and loops it provided the rhythmic foundation for forward was out. That's that's a loop from his Bangkok can and about then, in a crop markets like it, was a sound. I was like clear European Eastern Europe and you have my: can you have the silver apples, even even soft wishing, which was this really projects basic like influence or maritime, and it's kind of a port. His head listens to Jimmy Foods and some have always like, because it was just so weird and just these we're John Patterns Hinges bodies haunting baselines, that's that's a song that every time
and I will just rap ovary, because I cannot forget, I'm a little bit at Lisbon RAP over there now and I actually it's actually just don't one two three four but packets that they were used, makes it sound like this weird. pull back thing. Yes, that's what I feel like you like your own, something Tyler leaves a sample pretty much untouched say for an added would block The push pull rhythm of forward gives us a feeling of limbo, of temporary stasis within the context of the arms car right narrative. We might think about this as something like an idling card warming up for a right. Indeed, this analogy seems to be in line with the songs. Title forward spelled F, o r p, w o r d, which
word that describes a short piece of writing at the beginning of a book. A forward is something like an introduction, a preface, as such Tyler uses forward to introduce the Alps central themes and symbols doing so in a rapid fire series of question how many Hoskin about how much dropped him, having almost wrote to make labour are much less plea is allowed one negative with these opening for lines. Tyler set up the album central conflict, also alluding to the upcoming copyright that will be the album central setting. He first asks how many cars can I buy till I run out a drive Obsession with super cars has been well documented, having reference maclarens, Bmw's teslas among many others throughout, as disagree here on forests. Tyler is questioning this obsession with vehicles and, more broadly, he questions and nature of materialism itself and material.
Are the primary motivating force behind your actions and career obtaining a bigger house, a more expensive car, nicer close? How much of that stuff? Do you have to purchase to feel complete windows it end, and perhaps more importantly, does it really mean Nothing can material goods, be the driving motivational force behind your actions indefinitely. At this point in his life, it seems too There's bought enough staff to realise it cannot forever serve as DR his inspiration and meaning behind his actions. Tyler Sir for meaning beyond the material seems to be the root of this question and like any whose dealt with anxiety knows questions? Don't leader answers they just lead to more question as Tyler then asks how much can I have until I run out of road. The road here stands in. First,
career as an artist, and he fears he might quota will run out of road or run out of inspiration some day. He builds on this notion with the next question: how much road can they paved till? I run on a bland here, Tyler uses they and we might suspect, to mean the public again, is questioning the sustainability of his career, wondering how long people will be fans of his work, fearing that the road pay for him will one day run. Finally, Tyler asks how much land there be until I run in the ocean. Tyler here broadens the scope of his question by alluding to death I mean a car into the ocean, is both types of fatal occurrence. In this way, Tyler's questioning of his life and his motives takes an existential threat As his anxiety regarding his career very quickly hasn't questioning the nature of life itself, as we know from our first episode, the season, Tyler's identity has been intimately linked with creativity from a very young age, and now that is creative careers perceived to be in jeopardy abroad.
about something of an identity crisis he's asking beyond the material goods and accolades. Who am I I also think about the traditional literary use of the ocean as a symbol of one subconscious we're thinking of the ocean. This way, the image of Tyler running out of road and crashing sports car into the ocean can be viewed as a symbolic representation at the identity crisis. He seems to be undergoing. as he searches for meaning in substance. Beyond the material Tyler's exists, the over his career motivation represented by the car. He drives put them at conflict with his inner voice or subconscious represented by the EU and finally, Tyler also brings to focus a juxtaposition between the material and the natural specifically his sports car versus the ocean, as will see throughout the season. This contrast between the material and the new
natural, which we might interpret as a battle between the superficial and meaningful, will be a central conflict. Tyler looks to resolve over the course of the album as verse. One continues we hear the entrance the strummed electric guitar played by Austin Feinstein of the band slow hollows. will hear time and again on fire boy toddlers. You supply When is a typical, and thus it becomes heart. to ascribe traditional key signature to a song. Suffice it to say now that this guitar part establishes forward somewhere in the realm of de flat minor information
we'll keep in the back of our minds. For now, as we continue our examination of first, one plea of asylum seekers are not allowed to selling something like a sea of I'm gone. Tyler build up the line, how much land can there? Until I run in the ocean thing see never into the beaches and all the sands beaches sounds a lot like bitches, and it's here we get the first of many several references to Tyler sexuality. Indeed, he Conch this line with the next, see I was in the woods with flowers, rainbows imposes flowers, traditionally feminine
rainbow or the Rainbow flag is a significant symbol of pride and gay culture. We also note toddlers use of woods or forest as setting In contrast to an open beach, one can hide in the secluded woods there are private environment in which Tyler free to explore sexuality without the judgement of others. We also might think of this as being akin to the phrase in the closet, which is, of course, the phrase used to describe someone who doesn't disclose their homosexuality to others from beauty these two Dantes Inferno, the forest is also a very common symbol and literature, typically signifying the unknown a realm of secret that one must penetrate to find meaning in stories. like snow white. The forest can also a safe place of refuge, and here on forward, Tyler uses the woods both an exploration of the unknown and a secluded safe space. He feels comfortable in Tyler continues. I was in the woods with flowers, rainbows imposed.
Is falling out of my pocket, but you want to know if I swam to cool down here. Tyler brings back the beach an ocean Marie again using them to signify women. People are curious if Quantico swam, which we take them, They were curious if he's had relationships with women. This point elaborated on in the opening of verse to Tyler works toward concluding verse. One by building up the phrase cool down asking how much cooler can I get until I run out of fans here, Tyler plays off using a fan to cool and self asking how cool are unpopular. Can you get until he runs out of fans of his music all together again, we think of his last album cherry bomb. His lackluster reception and Tyler's fear of his once hot career, beginning to cool figure, includes the verse asking how many fans can I have till they turn on the ac, a sea blow that I'm t I'm gone. Of course, a c is short for air conditioner and once again, Tyler fiercest fans will one day turned on him and his career with
or suddenly ceased to exist. This use explosives as the closing line central metaphor, might actually cleverly Lou to the outer cherry bomb as cherry bomb is a small explosive firework, as forward continues. Tyler's last two words: I'm gone are picked up by the artist
Orange County who interest to perform a bridge rex taps into towers, feelings of loneliness and isolation, singing I've gone and unfinished, and I see my friends in a minute guessing nothing lasts forever. Nothing sticks together. It expresses the kind of unavoidable lowness of the human experience regrow older and the friends that we thought we'd know forever fade from our existence, as life inevitably puts us in different directions: some go to college others develop drug dependencies, some joined the military
others, have children and settled down specifically to Tyler, we think of odd features, disbandment and the feelings he might have seeing his once unify collective girl part. This brief interlude ends with wreck singing sick of sitting. In doubt, please, let me figure this out. This can be heard as a kind of mission statement. The entire album, having already established a sense of confusion, isolation self doubt and Loneliness Tyler were over the most of the album attempt, a quota quote: figure it out and established for self. A new, more meaningful path forward, as forward continues, Tyler picks up were verse. One left off begins with a nod to the girls he tried, unsuccessfully, to have relationships with, but first a word from our sponsors Today's episode of dissect is brought to by Maytag. Maytag knows extra dirty clothes need extra cleaning power. That's why
like Maytag washers, now have the extra power button just give it a push to boost stain fighting on any washed cycle, simple, as that to learn more had to Maytag dotcom. Looking back to dissect before the break we examined the first half of fire boys opening track forward and just eight bars tether quickly establishes themes of uncertainty, as he questions is life up until this point, as forward continues, Tyler picks up were verse, left off girls, and I always keep warm ranks of right wing extremism. Tether begin first to thinking that women he's attempted to have relationships with further company in sexual efforts he wraps shut up,
the girls that lead on for occasional head and always keeping my bed warm. He allude once again to a sexual orientation as follows? Saying trying their hardest to keep my head on straight straight, of course, being the word for someone who's heterosexual, he also uses head and straight to reverence and erect penis, as the next line says, and keeping me up enough till I thought I was airborne. The women he's been with tried their hardest to keep him aroused enough to have Tyler think he might actually be airborne or attracted as the verse continues, Tyler pivots to racial tensions and observes that they may play a role in his underlying sense of inadequacy and anxiety. He asked how many wraps can I write till I get me a chain. How many chains can I wear till I'm considered a slave This is a somewhat common trope Hiphop, this Juxta busy
Can I change worn by black slaves and the diamond encrusted chains popular amongst successful wrappers? On one hand, you can view the two types of chains as representing progress, signifying the obstacles black people have overcome defined success after being enslaved in this country, hundreds of years. On the other hand, you can view the diamond encrusted chains as signifying a new modern type of slavery. One can be a slave to their disproportionate recording contract that favours the record label. A label most likely owned by white businessmen. One could also be a slave to materialism, the jewellery as a superficial validation of their ego and self worth a consumer mentality doesn't disrupt the real power balance in America here on forward and within the context of Taos Personal story it seems Tyler's contracting, the chains of slaves and his jewellery to point out. The irony of his success he's written enough wraps to get it
Jane and now abuse them as feeding into the same hollow materialism that has left a feeling dissatisfied and as in questioning his motives and life in general, Tyler continues. How many slaves can it be? Till Nat Turner arise how many rights can there be till the black matter. Here we have another contrast of old and new, as he references, not Turner leader. a nineteenth century slave rebellion and the black lives matter. The twenty first century movement sir, with ending racial and systemic injustice around the world, just like first one, Tyler stream of consciousness begins by focusing on a personal conviction but he quickly wines is lens to consider. How is personal conflict fits within larger societal and historical constructs or issues inverse one time question how much stuffy goodbye until he had enough and makes a change here. Tyler questions how much injustice the black community tolerate how many rallies or rights must there be until there's change has burst to continues,
Tyler Rees. Both of these questions together, the democratic clause may look. What I'm draw them is usually greater. Follow my ego, my possessions, will not let me be one b, because I've got a man should make us a moons and ruins got. Someone knows Emma Windows got some views and views GSM stay as my back and those who want to see what sort of madam, your promise, you better, not drown them seem totally consistent, entails down a minute you and that's. What are building up the black lives matter line Tyler France's the shooting of young black men by police? He wrapped Pew pew, the inward life. It gave a basketball you'd, better shoot the Edward he's, if that cop got trigger he better pole, with his reference to basketball. Teller plays up the stereotype that all black
and are athletic, as these types of generalizations of a race are often lead to unjust acts most relevant to this first. On forward, we think of the unfortunate assumption made by some that black men are criminals, inherently dangerous or threatening its these kinds of assumptions that led to the killings of black youth that sparked the black lives matter. Movement just referenced simultaneously. Tyler compares trigger happy cops in their proclivity to shoot their guns basketball players proclivity to shoot a basketball, as averse continues. Teller shows how he uses his wealth and material goods to escape these stereotypes. Wrapping because, when I get poured over, I usually play it. Cool because I know what I'm driving is usually paid in full and my ego and possessions will not. Let me be one. While Tyler does acknowledge the uneasiness of being black on a routine traffic, stop his wealth possessions, namely a sports car, allowed to navigate the situation confidently. This works to establish the meaning behind the car symbolism. There will be a
I'm in a feature throughout the album tether uses as cars. A protective shield here, his car and its representation of wealth puts too learn a higher class in the eyes of the police and serves to me in a further racial tension and hair in a routine stop but position where this is in the verse. We know that Tyler's, comparing himself to black youth, like Michael Brown and air gardener, who were killed by the police, his quote ego and possessions, will not let me be one that is not be a black person I get shot by the police. Tyler continues
first bringing back the stream of conscious style word. Linking elaborating on the nice views is multi floor. Mansion offers him. He says, then views get some stares at my backyard does to using stairs to mean both to look at and two reference, the staircase at least to his backyard pool with the verses closing lines. Tat brings forward full circle back to swimming water and the ocean reference inverse one. He wraps you better, not drown, keep them ten toes up because of them. Ten toes that mean that you fucked up and that's what I swim in. He seems to be talking to both the listener and himself directly using this idea floating with your toes up or down as metaphor for the stakes of life, the final line, that's what I swim in seems to make direct reference.
The line and verse one but y'all want to know. If I swim to cool down house you'll, remember we interpreted that to be a coded way of saying people wonder if he has relationships with women are not here. At the end of the final verse, Tyler reveals, where you actually swims and the gigantic pool isolated. back yard. This is, of course, a metaphor when that falls in line thematically with the entire song title. Surrounded and wealth and material goods he's litter swimming in his wealth, but, like the woods Averse, one he's also alone secluded and perhaps feeling alienated by a sexual orientation and most certainly come to played in the nature, life, his motivations and this place is a young, successful black man in America. Now before we continue into forwards out euro. I want to briefly acknowledged the abrupt change of instrumentation that occurred midway through the second birth were had been an electric guitar and drum loop is cut off with the entrance of a brassy swelling synthesizer.
Completely takes over. The sonic landscape is on the one I'm draw them is usually greater. Follow my ego, my possessions, will not let me being one be cause. I've got a major this dramatic shift. Synthesizer changes that sure. The track entirely also remember how I pointed out that the guitar or had established a song in something like the key of de flat minor. Well, the since changes that too. Suddenly we find ourselves a bee flat, major and musics theory. This shift from one key or total area to another caught a modulation. What will discuss modulation in detail later the season? Suffice it to say for now a is rarely heard in popular music and almost were heard in Hiphop, so its presence here extremely unique one of many compositional nuggets, we're going
discover, throughout our analysis, a flower boy, and to this point I do want to draw your attention to one more thing now this is it immediately subjective, interpretation but remember how I noted that forwards main drummed loop has this kind of push pull rhythm. The sense of stagnation said they might compared to an idling, cart well, I can't help, but here the swelling, rising and falling synthesizer introduced adverse to a sounding similar to the swelling Riddick rise and fall of an ocean type. when we hear this way. The island car drug loop and ocean, like swelling said, becomes sought. Representations of the two contrasting forces Tyler presented in this two versus the matter,
real versus the natural, the superficial versus the meaningful again a subjective interpretation, but interesting. Nonetheless, as forward works towards its conclusion, the two contrasting forces collide, the drum loop returns this time beneath the swelling. Sixth,
the guitar Rex Orange County returns, who again builds up the ladder lines of tyres verse. Let us here in the outdoor rex uses three of the symbols Tyler presented in his verses as possible ways he could die. He leads to water the Ocean and Tyler's pool when he imagined death by drowning alludes to tailor
sports car when he imagines death by car crash? And finally, he alludes to tellers multistory mansion when he imagines death by falling, while the specifics, change. The heart of his question remains: if I die, who will really miss me? Who will care what will have contributed to the world? What well leave behind while many are likely to interpret these sentiments a suicidal thoughts. Tyler himself spoke directly about these closing lines and, liberalization with Gerard Car, Michael Existential. We can somebody with almost suicidal spices I'm gone and could it like? You know we don't really like that's thousand questions like damn what, if what, if I'm died, what here that's kind of what was in it just to set the tone of like
That's, where is then it's not the prey like I'm not depressed at all. A lot of people makes up depression with self awareness, unlike some of my duties. Omnipresent might not ever set up the praise, I'm lonely, but I'm having the most fauna my goddamn life yet end, but that some kind of set aside that tone Tyler points out something here that will be key to our understanding of not only forward but the entire if there are far boy, he states that and people mistakes, self awareness for depression. That is when someone thinks about or speaks of, their death. Hypothetically, We often assume that person is suicidal and while depressed people do statistically think more about death and most thinking about death does not by definition mean your depressed is perfectly natural, even healthy, to think about life with death in mind. Keeping death over one shoulder can help you calibrate the stakes of your daily decisions, a reminder,
that we only know for certain of this one life and that our time here is finite. Throughout forward, we find Tyler being as he put it self aware, he's taking stock of his like this far attempting to get to the root of his motivations and decisions. How those Innovations and decisions have led to his present feelings of on fulfilment, and I put this ice about how those feelings will continue to affect his future. If he doesn't change course, they extend this line. Thinking far enough, as we heard on the conclusion of forward your most, We're going to end up thinking about your death, because sport, Lower death is the definitive end to your story. The unavoidable conclusion to any extended thought about the future of your life. this kind of thinking doesn't always mean you're depressed and means Taking my seriously, I mean dirt. ending to maximize and prioritize your time here, attempting to find subjective, meaning in your existence, death I considered seriously can act as a productive tools calibration
that helps in refining and prioritizing your decision making effectively altering the trajectory and outcome of your life tat. Also speaks of his loneliness as a source of his internal emotional strife. Let's hear this passage one more time the prey like I'm not depressed at all people makes up depression with self awareness, unlike some of my duties, omnipresent might not ever set up with the press, I'm lonely, but I'm having the most fond of my goddamn life yet end, but that song their states quote. I never said I'm depressed, I'm lonely, but I'm having the most finding my goddamn life unquote on its surface. This can seem like a contradictory statement. How can one feel lonely when you're surrounded by friends have more Need the most and admitting that you're having fun well to a success? of existential philosophy. This would come in surprise whatsoever and existentialist would prescribe Tyler's loneliness as one d
than a longing for the company of friends, family or a significant other that type of low we miss as a defence against thinking about the most important questions of life and death, real lovely This is much deeper and then inherent inescapable attribute being human, a consequence of the lack of Transit, meaning in our lives couple with our unique ability to understand our own mortality, to look desk in the eye. Any time we choose this lack of forensic, meaning and purpose paired with our awareness of death is what philosopher, Frederick Meta described as the abyss to stare into the abyss to confront these difficult but fundamental, core the bar existence will almost always first bring about a feeling of existential loneliness, a frightening of isolation. The feed that one is and anchored in this unfathomable vast universe on forward we find Tyler doing just this staring into the abyss. He himself some advice, most difficult questions. He question
the success, his wealth, his material possessions anything that western society typically cells us as a path of personal fulfilment and happiness? He has fame money, status, influence and millions of fans having obtained these things Tyler like many in his position, wonders why still feels a certain emptiness, a certain loneliness what I've been told will fulfil me? Doesn't what will if all these matters things don't mean anything. What does it suddenly stood did my possessions, who am I, there is looking into the abyss. Feeling eternally alone, aimlessly in the universe, knowing that one day he died and is this kind of essential, loneliness and deep isolation that one feels, despite being surrounded by friends and family. This, by obtaining financial security, despite being in a long six, the relationship is the dark, presents forever the surface of being the concealed sense of dread.
And every smiling face, the unavoidable condition of the human experience. How many hawks cannot by Robert Evans almost rose to make statements about how much less plea- and so I want to make- is that not a here at the start of flour boy we find Tyler comfortably in the most important role. go questions. Why can ask themselves indeed forward? Sets? The stakes the course of the album tolerable, Look the saw this existential crisis looked a real devilish meaning in his life to recalibrate, is internal gps to come to terms with who and its place in the universe, Tyler's journey of Self discovery begins with the arms next track, where this flower blooms Some will examine note by no line by line next time and ice
they sectors ridden produced by me, remember when you listen to dissect on Spotify you'll get up the weak, early, fine cut curated playlist by yours truly and have access to ample spot of my exclusive bonus episodes or pod our free on Spotify fire like to give you a chance experience We think the platform has to offer visit, Spotify dot com, slash promos, slash, dissect to receive sixty days a Spotify premium for free fall, free at dissect, podcast on Twitter and Instagram join our community group on Facebook original theme music by bureaucratic song recreation by Andrew Atwood. Ok thanks everyone. I talk to you next week.