by Tyler, The Creator
Released April 2, 2013 via Odd Future Records
Reviewed May 4, 2023
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Answer (46%), IFHY (feat. Pharrell) (43%), Rusty (feat. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt) (42%)
One of the most compelling albums of the 2010s—especially so in retrospect—Tyler, the Creator’s second album, WOLF was a somewhat messy, but necessary stepping stone for one of the decade’s most influential artists. Ten years removed from WOLF, Tyler now has six albums under his belt; but at this point, all we knew of Tyler before this release was Bastard (2009)—his lone mixtape—and the debut album that was Goblin (2011).
These three releases made up a trilogy of sorts that loosely connected Tyler and a cast of characters and alter egos of his own creation—including, but not limited to, Wolf Haley, Ace, Sam, Dr. TC, and more. And while the lines between Tyler and his alter egos were always somewhat obfuscated, WOLF has a handful of more personal, semi-introspective, and self-aware moments that further blur these lines—and to an extent, disrupt the flow and loose narrative that the album sets forth.
Nonetheless, the tracks that lean on the reflective side—such as “Answer,” “48,” and “Rusty,” among others—standout as the album’s highest points. Combined with an infusion of jazzier and soulful elements into his production style, there’s some sense of reinvention for Tyler, the Creator on this record. But to say there’s a real sense of newfound maturity is certainly a bit of a reach; the opening lines of “Tamale” say just as much. His growth as a producer is evident and his willingness to be a little more vulnerable is admirable; but a clear desire for shock value, and this defiant, aggressive attitude is still a driving force for much of the album. The liberal use of the f-slur is probably the most prominent example of this and maybe the biggest reason this album hasn’t aged super well. Still, WOLF holds some of Tyler, the Creator’s best tracks to date and was a real showcase of untapped potential, even if the overall product is weighed down by many of the same issues that made him such a polarizing artist in his early years. – Dominick (7.8/10)
The spearhead of Odd Future's collective ensemble leans out of horrorcore territory in favour of a more fun sound on WOLF—yet still as serious, at times. Welcome to camp Flog Gnaw, a place where splashes of neo-soul intersect the startling potential of shock rap. Signs of where things would head are scattered throughout—retrospectively serving as a conspicuous and crystal clear snapshot. Perspective adds nuance and before unseen subtleties. 10 years removed, WOLF sits in an important space in the discography of Tyler, the Creator: a space where the clocks were beginning to turn, but still snagged on unnecessary practices and angst. WOLF sees the maturation, in some regards, of Tyler, the Creator's career—although we're still far from shore. The building blocks were being laid in due time. – Peter (7/10)
Pax: 9.5/10 | Jared: 8.5/10 | Dominick: 7.8/10 | DeVán: 7.5/10 | Jacques: 7/10
Peter: 7/10 | Cam: 6.8/10 | Pablo: 6.3/10