Tyler, The Creator breaks out the eerie, gospel organ, simple electric guitar scales, and comforting, moody bass for “Answer,” his latest ode to his absentee father.
The song from his recently released Wolf album mixes disappointment, anger and anguish as the Odd Future front man imagines having a telephone conversation with his deadbeat dad.
Though he sings, “When I call, I hope you pick up the phone. I’d like to talk to you,” on the chorus, he awkwardly fumbles through the verses for effect, revealing the insecurities beneath his bravado.
On first listen there’s no indication that the song is about his paternal figure. Listeners could assume that he is addressing a girl. But this is all clear upon the first rap lyric.
“Hey Dad, it’s me, um. Oh, I’m Tyler. I think I be your son,” he says in a choppy, nervous rap. But the more he speaks, the more confident he becomes. By the next bar, he is lashing out, calling him a gay slur.
The 22-year-old MC considers the struggle his single, young mother endured. “Mom was only 20 when you ain’t have any f—k to spare,” he says before complaining about inheriting his Nigerian father’s “sh-tty facial hair.”
He credits his manager, Christian Clancy, for exposing him to a world he “wasn’t supposed to see.” He says he’s glad he’s never met the “sperm donor” and announces his plans to change his surname from Okonma to Haley, the last name of his Wolf alias.
As his anger fuels, he becomes a bit delusional. He lyrically reprimands his father, denying him passes to his upcoming show. The previously ambiguous chorus now has new meaning for the next run, so he amends it. The angst becomes solemn as he raps, “But if I ever had the chance to ask this n-gga, and call him, I hope he answer.”
For the third verse, he resumes venting, even mentioning new developments in his crew: “Frank is out the closet. Hodgy’s an alcoholic. Syd might be bipolar, but I can’t f—king call it.” Then he flips it and gets sentimental about wanting to share these feelings with an elder in his family. “I would like to tell my grandma but she just nostalgia. I’ll call her number, but she won’t answer.” The fourth verse is about a girl.
“Answer” is just one of the many introspective songs on Wolf. He elaborates about his grandmother on album closer, “Lone.”