“911” borrows its pre-hook from the great Gap Band hit “Outstanding” which came out in 1982. Tyler’s stage set-up took its cues from that era, specifically from Soul Train. He rapped on a pedestal in front of a group of happy, brightly dressed dancers. Towards the end of the song, Tyler hopped down from his perch, the dancers arranged themselves in two lines as he shimmied between them.
Despite the cheerful atmosphere, “911” is a song about personal isolation. “I’m the loneliest man alive,” Tyler rapped. “But I keep on dancin’ to throw ’em off/ I’m gonna run out of moves ’cause I can’t groove to the blues.” The recorded version of the song features Frank Ocean, Anna North and Steve Lacy; Lacy was the only one of those singers present on The Late Show. He added his own pleas: “Call me sometime … you know I’ll answer.”
“911” appeared on Tyler, the Creator’s Scum Fuck Flower Boy album last Friday. The rapper discussed the LP briefly with Stephen Colbert before his performance. “I produced and wrote mostly 90% of it,” he said. “I didn’t want to rap a lot on it, so I kept all my rap verses short, and everything I said I made sure it was really ridiculously important … nothing funny on it.”
In addition to releasing his new album, Tyler, the Creator has a new show premiering on Viceland August 3rd titled Nuts and Bolts.