Tyler’s fourth studio album sounded nothing like his previous work and left many fans torn after listening. Less gritty and graphic than Bastard, Goblin and Wolf, Cherry Bomb still stands as the Grammy-winning artist’s most ambitious project of his career. Cherry Bomb‘s release was immediately met with mixed reviews and still has his fan base split on if this is his worst project, or one of his best.
While the masses remain divided on how high Cherry Bomb sits within his discography, Wednesday (April 13) was the seven-year anniversary of its release, and with it, an opportunity to dive deeper into its divisive nature — as Cherry Bomb has an argument for Tyler’s most important album to date. While some might be opposed to the album’s alternative sound, this is the first project that sees Tyler swap his previously graphic and ultra-offensive lyrics that became synonymous with his music for a more grounded approach.
While unique, Tyler’s first two albums maintain a similar gritty sound not offering much crazily outside of the realm of the other. Looking for a different sound in 2015, Tyler started heavily utilizing synths which would soon become a staple.
Lyrically Tyler evolved also, while his first three-album run largely focused on his fictional character Wolf Haley, ‘Cherry Bomb’ offered a different look into Tyler’s life as he transitions into rapping about how he’s built his career and the different challenges that come with that. Tyler continues to build his storytelling abilities, but like much of the album, the plot is more abstract than his early work.
The start of the album is much much more chaotic with a somewhat gritty sound reminiscent of his early work mixed with heavy synths but evolved with a more complex beat base. As the album progresses it almost seems like a progression of Tyler’s career. After the gritty in-your-face start of the album, Tyler drastically changes the tone while showing off his production chops with songs like ‘2Seater,‘ ‘Fucking young/Perfect‘ and ‘Smuckers,’ that rely heavily on melodies with a diverse instrumental profile.
Songs like ‘2Seater’ show Tyler’s growth as an artist, as he paints a picture of him and his girl taking a ride. Tyler mixes hard-hitting drums with a fuzzy synth while he took listeners on a trip down a road detailing his career and the journey he’s been on.
While ‘Smuckers’ sees Tyler team up with a pair of icons – Lil Wayne and Kanye West – to show off his rapping chops. Going back and forth with Wayne, he proves that despite being largely focused on his production he can still put down a strong verse.
While Cherry Bomb’s drastic changing landscape throws people off, Tyler’s experimental album helped establish his diverse production album style that began to shine through to the mainstream with his follow-up effort ‘Flower Boy.‘
Tyler’s ear for sampling begins to thrive as the California emcee taps into a wide variety of genres including blues, R&B, jazz and went as far back to sample to the 1800s with samples of The Traditional Folks‘ ‘Peter Piper’ and ‘Eenie, Minnie, Moe’ for the albums second track ‘Buffaloe.’
Despite the mainstream not finding the appeal to Tyler’s fourth project, they soon would understand Sir Boudelier’s artistic style. The diverse beat profile provided by ‘Cherry Bomb’ can be heard in his three follow-up albums.
‘Flower Boy’ earned Tyler’s first nomination for Rap Album of the Year at the Grammy’s. Tyler’s follow-up saw him once again go above and beyond with his production relying less on rapping and more on melodic choruses with a stacked feature list -including Wayne, Kali Uchis, Frank Ocean and more- that allowed his production to breathe.
This follow-up was an immediate critical and commercial success possibly surprising those who were hesitant after ‘Cherry Bomb’ was not a massive success.
While the influence from ‘Cherry Bomb’ may not be outright apparent to some, it marked a turning point in his sound. Tyler established his own sound that few can replicate introducing an airy sound that often bends genres with fluid melodies with the backbones of rap.
When 2019’s ‘IGOR’ came out Tyler had established himself as one of the best all-around performers. By this point, Tyler had mastered the synth beats as they dominated ‘IGOR’s’ emotional rollercoaster.
Possibly the closest things fans have gotten to a follow-up to ‘Cherry Bomb’ lies in Tyler’s most recent project ‘Call Me if you Get Lost.‘ After back-to-back albums that saw Tyler shift to a more pop approach for most of the projects, Tyler returned to his roots with a rap on CMIYGL. Back to spitting bars, CMIYGL sounds like a mature ‘Cherry Bomb’ with a variety of beats that range from complex to simple melodies.
As time goes on more and more fans are seemingly coming around to Tyler’s most ambitious project. Like many experimental albums it can take listeners time to digest the abstract nature of ‘Cherry Bomb,’ but as time has progressed more and more fans have come around to Tyler’s most complex piece of work.
Stream Tyler the Creators slept on fourth album ‘Cherry Bomb’ below.