From Stems to Petals, Tyler, The Creator Discusses Flower Boy With Jerrod Carmichael in Conversational Film

by Kara Powell

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Since the "gut-wrenching" highly personal album, Flower Boy, Tyler, The Creator released last year, fans of the chameleon entrepreneur-rapper-fashion guru have been wondering about the state of his, well, everything. There were moments that we're seemingly unhinged as impressed by at-times aurally violent sound variations (considered tame after Cherry Bomb's dust settled). And there were moments of relatable whimsy; when melodies transport and lyrics serve up blooming symbolism, like "water your garden, my ni**a." Listeners were amused and amazed, but also left to their own devices since its release -- attempting to dig up answers without a spade. 

In an hour-long convo caught on tape and directed by Wolf Hayley, Jerrod Carmichael of the eponymous The Carmichael Show successfully sifts through the moments of the album's making with Tyler. Carmichael asks of Tyler the question threatening to jump off the tips of listeners' tongues for a while now: "Are you okay?" 

The split screen remains throughout, though the two occupy the same space with a Joshua Tree-inspired painted back drop. Answers led to a near-therapy session -- the most laid back, dope, casual one there ever was,  as he spoke to the album composed of "every feeling" written down. 

Between Carmichael fanboying a bit (how could he not?) with a #blackboyjoy vibe,  track-by-track, each inspiration and aspiration was broken down. Carmichael comments that Tyler has given each song "creative director" treatment. He drives an experiment of a desired experience, very much like the purposefully ambiguous daydream in "See You Again," featuring the dreamy-to-match vocals of Kalis Uchis:  "In my dream world, it’s just chords that play in the dream planet….just my day dream is music, Just the drums and melody."

Then there's "November," a throwback track to the days when Tyler was living his best creative life in picturesque Coldwater November of course. Also a time of extreme paranoia, when he was questioning if his accountant was stealing money from him, is he "hustling backwards?" 

Carmichael probes into the multiple record skips of many chord-heavy, pop-influenced tracks, the emotionally heavy aspects of an "existential...contemplative, almost suicidal" record. One of those breaks from surreality is "Mr Lonely," confirmed the saddest song he's ever created. It's revealed that the version the people have heard is the fast-tempo'd 25th version and not suicidal, but woke to the emotional nuances conveyed through sad eyes, but a dopey semi-grin. His oft misconstrued "brooding artist" process is prolifically melancholic: "A lot of people mix up depression with self awareness. I’m lonely, but I’m having the most fun of my goddamned life."  

From anything and anywhere, inanimate and human objects become fair game to get his creative juices flowing. He's verbally hopping from shooting the shit with Carmichael to making chords digestible to extolling Stevie Wonder as "the Godfather of my existence." The complementary aspirations sucked up include scoring things ("the whole album is a goddamned score") and making clothes, but rapping - what appears to be at the core of his creations, isn't mentioned. Whatever is "genuinely beautiful" and symbolic continues to provoke Tyler to undertake any creative outlet, as long as he can say it with a feeling.  

Written by Kara Powell