REVIEW: Tyler, the Creator pays tribute to the Grinch

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After a big year of releasing fantastic music, including his Grammy-nominated “Flower Boy,” Tyler, the Creator tries to get us into the holiday spirit with a new EP inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch.” Tyler is known for the wild and crazy attitude which has gotten him in trouble in the past, even getting him banned in the U.K. However, Tyler’s most recent releases have been sweeter and calmer, and this EP follows the same soothing trend.

The first track, titled “Whoville,” is a short track (running at only a minute and fourteen seconds) filled with a wide number of instruments not unconventional for hip-hop, although common in Tyler’s newer works. The track has no vocals, only chords, a technique Tyler has used and shown appreciation for in past works.

The next track, titled “Lights On,” is about finding your way home to your loved ones for the holidays. Tyler stands alongside rapper Santigold and frequent BROCKHAMPTON collaborator Ryan Beatty. Santigold opens the song with a verse about getting home to a loved one and sings a hook that will probably get stuck in your head. Meanwhile, Ryan Beatty sings beautifully on the second verse, stealing the show with easily the best vocal performance on the entire EP. Joining Beatty, Tyler’s trademark bass voice raps in Seuss’s rhyme style, especially with the line “Call, a plane, a walk, a train / No matter which way baby, I’m coming home.” Instrumentals find influence within Wham!’s “Last Christmas” with its 80s-style synths. “Lights On” has all the potential to become the next huge Christmas hit.

“Hot Chocolate” is a song about none other than the festive seasonal beverage itself. Tyler raps a few bars about preferring 2% milk and what toppings he likes on top of his drink. Though whimsical, this song is kind of lacking especially compared to the song prior.

“Big Bag” is a way more interesting song, especially due to Tyler’s rap performance. While Tyler is a rapper by trade, his rap skills aren’t exercised very much on this EP. Throughout, he raps only in small bursts and relies heavily on instrumentals and vocal performances by collaborators. However, on “Big Bag,” Tyler shows up with great lines about his childhood Christmas experiences like, “I was wrapping gifts age six with the paper bandanas / Mom was always honest, I ain’t never had a Santa Claus / She was my amigo like my buddies from Atlanta / We was hopin’ for a signal, too afraid to change the channel, yo.” Tyler raps on the hook: “Big bag, fill ’em up with the produce / Big bag, fill ’em up with the produce,” alluding to the Grinch’s thievery of Whoville. The second verse continues with the Grinch theme as Tyler raps from the point of view of the Grinch, such as on the line “Tell all them kids that he be the Grinch / When they ask who has type of heart to do this.”

“When Gloves Come On” brings back Beatty who once again has beautiful vocals; however, this song is more reliant on instrumentals. Not many lyrics are included with this song and Tyler’s only vocals here see him acting as a conductor of sorts: “Boom, boom, ba-boom / Go down Back to one (Two) Yeah.” While this might not be the most interesting song on the EP, Tyler praises it for being something he’s tried to make ever since his first studio album”Goblin,” comparing it to the track “Untitled 63.”

The last track is another instrumental, titled “Cindy Lou’s Wish,” which is another short track at only a minute and seven seconds. Tyler has ended his last two albums, “Cherry Bomb” and “Flower Boy” with instrumentally focused tracks, so it is not a shock that he did so here.

If someone would’ve told me when Tyler released his breakout track “Yonkers” in 2011 that he would go on to make a Christmas album, I would have probably laughed at them but here we are. This EP shows how far we have come since 2011 – from Tyler eating cockroaches,  to Tyler making an album about the Grinch and hot chocolate. Altogether this is not Tyler’s best work in terms of rapping ability, Tyler makes a very interesting and cheerful holiday EP that you can listen to every year around the holidays.

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