Tyler, the Creator, ‘Cherry Bomb’

If there’s an example of a kid who probably spent way too much of his adolescence listening to Eminem and N.E.R.D., it’s Tyler, the Creator. Obvious traces of Em’s deranged rhymes pulsed through Tyler’s first two albums; his latest, “Cherry Bomb,” is practically an all-caps homage to Pharrell’s funk-rock vanity project, trading in the grayscale of his angst to explore the Technicolor corners of his quirkiness. The Odd Future frontman is at his most indecisive, swerving from high-decibel ear assaults (“Deathcamp,” “Pilot”) to sugary, saxophone-laced cuddle tunes (“Find Your Wings,” “[expletive] Young/Perfect”). He makes the obligatory rap muscle-flexing feel like recess, hopscotching through Galaga blips with Schoolboy Q (“The Brown Stains of Darkeese Latifah Part 6-12 (Remix)”) and playing lyrical hot potato with Kanye West and Lil Wayne (“Smuckers”). It takes patience to tag along, but hearing Tyler abandon shock for shock’s sake to explore other sides of his oddness is a sign he’s less interested in being rap’s Quentin Tarantino, and more its Wes Anderson. (Out now) JULIAN BENBOW

Essential “Smuckers”


Julian Benbow can be reached at