The Psychotic Romance of IGOR


Image via Discogs

Gus Reyna, Writer

Tyler the Creator’s 2019 album, IGOR, follows the story of Igor (one of Tyler’s alter egos) as he navigates a confusing and complex relationship. Tyler conveys his emotions with symbols and references throughout the album, which is sequenced into 3 different parts while telling his story about how he falls in and out of love with an unreliable person.

In the beginning, Tyler expresses his excitement about his new love interest, but he also shows early signs of fear for their future. With lyrics such as, “I think I’ve fallen in love, this time I think it’s for real” from the track “I THINK,” Tyler bluntly shares how he feels about this relationship. “EARFQUAKE.” and, “I THINK” give a lot of insight into how almost giddy in love Tyler is, but he also questions the reality of the situation on “RUNNING OUT OF TIME.” In the first verse, Tyler says, “Take your mask off, I need her out the picture,” and, “Stop lying to yourself, I know the real you,” implying that his love interest is a guy who’s already in a public straight relationship. This is obviously very problematic for Tyler, considering he’s expected to be content in essentially being used by this person when all he really wants is a committed relationship instead of what seems like unrequited love. 

The middle of the album begins to show Tyler unraveling under jealousy and frustration. On one of the most energetic tracks, “NEW MAGIC WAND,” Tyler acknowledges his own jealousy by saying, “My eyes are green I eat my veggies,” which is a reference to the green-eyed monster, but says it’s due to vegetables in order to hide this from his love interest and the girl he’s with. Although Tyler is eager to be with this person, his frustration increases over time as his eagerness is not reciprocated. This is clearly expressed in verse 3 when Tyler says “She’s gonna be dead, I just got a magic wand. We can finally be together”. Many fans and critics have pointed out how the magic wand could be a potential symbol for a gun, which gives insight into how Tyler’s love is making him irrational. He wants the guy all to himself and will do anything to get the girlfriend out of the picture. 

In “A BOY IS A GUN,” Tyler speaks through clever lyrics about how love can be dangerous. He compares his love interest to a gun, as he says, “No, don’t shoot me down” pleading to not be rejected. A gun can provide protection, but can also be extremely dangerous. Tyler continues this metaphor because although a relationship with this person would provide some security, he’s experiencing the unrequited love side instead. Tyler also compares this person to sugar, saying “Sweet as sugar, diabetic to the first degree” which further elaborates on how Tyler feels he’s being treated in the relationship. As he begins to realize how poor and one-sided the connection between them is, he starts to get tired of the chase. This is expressed when he says “I ain’t taking you home, yeah I’m brushing you off” because he’s decided to start treating his love interest with the same energy that he’s been receiving throughout the entirety of the relationship. 

Even with this in mind, Tyler still is constrained from ending things by his own emotions. His self-awareness shines through in the chorus of “PUPPET” when he says “I’m your puppet, you control me. I’m your puppet, I don’t know me”. This shows Tyler’s view of himself in the relationship; he knows that all his decisions are based on this one person and is struggling to see who he really is through this veil of obsession. 

The end of the album surrounds Tyler’s headspace post-breakup. He’s feeling a lot of gratitude towards the situation but still experiences very bittersweet moments. “GONE, GONE/THANK YOU” is a track where a lot of this spills over into each other. For example, Tyler says, “Whether it’s rain or shine I know I’m fine for now. My love’s gone” expressing that even though he’s hurt, he’s trying to move on. At the end of the “GONE, GONE” portion, comedian Jerrod Carmichael says, “I hate wasted potential, that sh*t crushes your spirit, it really does, it crushes your soul,” implying that Tyler is reminiscing on what could’ve been if his love interest had chosen him instead of the girl. He also thanks his “ex” by saying “Thank you for the love, thank you for the joy, but I don’t ever wanna fall in love again,” once again, expressing how much the relationship really did scar him in terms of love. Tyler also tries to give the illusion that he’s moved on completely on the track “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” where he feels his time was wasted. He concludes that “there’s more fish in the sea, I’ma re-up” and “you do you, I’ll do me” suggesting that they should just go their separate ways for the greater good. 

This all changes on the final track, “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” Even though Tyler attempts to retreat from the failed relationship, he’s in denial and does his best to keep this person in his life. This is clear in verse 2, when Tyler says “Don’t get green skin, keep contact. Don’t say ‘Goodbye, smell you later’”. He doesn’t want to become strangers with the person he almost shared a relationship with, and he doesn’t want to lose the bond they once shared for good. He yearns for some closure as he says “I don’t wanna end the season on a bad episode” implying that he doesn’t want to end on bad terms. This also goes back to another one of Jerrod’s quotes from earlier in the album, “Exactly what you run from you end up chasing” which is a reflection of what has happened to Tyler at this point in the album.

With everything in mind, it’s clear that Tyler goes through a very confusing and emotional journey portrayed in such a beautiful way through his album IGOR. He speaks about the highs and lows of a relationship before inevitably coming to terms with the reality of the situation and finding peace with where he is.