Tyler, the Creator has expanded on 2021’s Call Me If You Get Lost with the release of The Estate Sale – an inconsistent eight-track release that is still a whole lot more than some b-side throwaways.
Let’s start at the finish. ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ the outro of The Estate Sale and indeed now of the deluxe version of Call Me If You Get Lost, is not only the best track from this latest batch of Tyler songs but a defining monologue in Tyler, the Creator’s career. For three minutes, Tyler apologises to everyone for everything in a way that is both sincere and dismissive.
To his mother, to former male lovers and to former female lovers, to entitled fans and grateful fans, to old friends and new friends, to really anyone who has an opinion on him at all, Tyler is saying: ‘I’m sorry, fuck you.’
Some of these apologies are personal and specific. In the opening verse, he raps: “Sorry to the freaks I led on, Who thought their life was gonna change ’cause I gave ’em head on…Sorry to the guys I had to hide, Sorry to the girls I had to lie to, Who ain’t need to know if I was by the lake switchin’ tides too.”
Some of these apologies are more worldly, less about Tyler or certain people around him, as they are about societal struggles he can relate to. “I’m sorry to my ancestors, I know I’m supposed to fight, But this ice shining brighter than a black man’s plight,” he raps. “Sorry I don’t know your pronouns, I don’t mean no disrespect, But, damn, we just met, calm the fuck down.”
And some of these apologies aren’t apologies at all. Towards the end of the song, as he grows in confidence, he says: “I’m sorry I’m pretentious, Sorry that the talent, knowledge, passion isn’t missing, Sorry when I talk my shit and I could back it up with confidence, it get you n***** tripping.”
Putting everything out there allows him, you hope, to move forwards unencumbered.
These eight songs were all part of the “Call Me If You Get Lost era”, according to Tyler, suggesting surely this era is now over. The music video for ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ seems to further this idea, with the star dressed up as the album cover of each of his projects to date.
Whenever artists talk about ‘eras’, it’s usually quite easy to dismiss them as “pretentious”. It’s different with Tyler. In part because of the number of successful transitions he’s made to date. From obscene, comedic character, to talented rapper, to pioneering artist, to being at the very forefront of a broader social zeitgeist in what he says, how he dresses and the music he makes. You can’t really argue that Tyler has, in the last 10-15 years, been through a number of eras. It’s also different because of his ability to control the narrative around him. He knows he’s pretentious. As with everything else, so what? He’s good enough to back it up, and what the f*** are you gonna do about it?
Compared to the consistent quality of Tyler’s music since 2017’s Flower Boy, some of the tracks from The Estate Sale aren’t quite up to scratch. I would argue the three songs with high-profile guest artists – Vince Staples is on ‘Stuntman’, A$AP Rocky is on ‘Wharf Talk’, and YG is on ‘Boyfriend, Girlfriend’ – are the worst three tracks. ‘Wharf Talk’ is the best of the trio, particularly A$AP’s verse, but you can see why each of these did not make the final cut for Call Me If You Get Lost.
Tyler’s ability to leave the other three full-length songs off the album is impressive. If he didn’t plan on releasing something like The Estate Sale down the road, the idea that ‘What A Day’, ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Heaven To Me’ could have all gone unreleased is scary. I suppose it’s a luxury that the best musicians have to deal with.
The mini-project’s The Estate Sale title downplays the significance of these tracks. They’re more than just a liquidation of the Call Me If You Get Lost era. They are now an extended outro. Tyler’s mastered outros in recent times – Igor’s ‘Are We Still Friends? the perfect example of both a culmination and a goodbye, while ‘Safari’ marked a brilliant end on its own – but The Estate Sale sees him take it further still.