Tyler, The Creator’s sixth album, IGOR, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Released on May 17, 2019, the album takes the listener on a journey alongside Tyler’s persona, dubbed “Igor”, as he deals with unreciprocated love, love triangles, uncertainty, and finally, self respect. This series of articles will go through every track featured on IGOR.
Tr. 2, EARFQUAKE
A bouncy arpeggiated synth moves from ear to ear for a few seconds before piano and synth bass cut them off. Enter EARFQUAKE, the second track and lead single off of IGOR.
The track was first written in May of 2017, before the release of Tyler’s fifth album, Flower Boy. Tyler had written the song for Justin Bieber, offered it to Rihanna, and upon rejection from both, took matters into his own hands.
By the “baby-don’t-go,” love-ballad feel of this track, listeners find themselves in an atmosphere of some tension and distress. Stepping out of IGOR’S THEME and into EARFQUAKE keeps two things constant: negative energy and uncertainty. Right off the bat, a chant sets the scene:
“For real, for real this time.”
As we’ll come to find, Igor is in search of something real—a relationship that’s true and reciprocated. Tyler takes this opportunity to setup for later pieces on the record where Igor finds himself indecisive on a multitude of topics. This theme of indecisiveness is extremely common and shouldn’t be taken lightly upon this record’s analysis. Here, Igor is putting his foot down after the meltdown of IGOR’S THEME and drawing his counterpart to listen to him.
The first segment of the hook reveals the gravity that this person has on Igor’s life. He makes Igor’s Earth quake. He shakes him up. He’s breaking Igor’s heart. These words are a bit cliched, but rightfully so. Cheesy love ballads call for the feeble human heart to swoon. Igor is taking a similar approach. He’ll say what he has to, as we’ll find.
The second segment of the hook provides a double entendre, one of many on the record. By saying that it’s his “fault”, Igor is taking the blame for something in order for his lover to come back. Furthermore, in geology, a “fault” is a crevice between tectonic plates where earthquakes have occurred and still occur. As previously stated, Igor will say anything to get his love interest to stick around. He’ll vacuously say that it’s his fault in order to keep things the same.
After a second round of the hook, rapper Playboi Carti makes an entrance. On the official lyric sheet, it’s written that his lyrics couldn’t be transcribed. This is a joke about his style of rap and how it’s incomprehensible. The only lines though that are needed out of this english soup are:
“And she wicked, like Woah Vicky.”
Who is “she”? If this was directed to the love interest, they would be mentioned as “you”. This is where the love triangle comes into play. Here is the introduction of the ex-girlfriend of the love interest. During the course of the album, she will be mentioned, threatened, and questioned. She is villainized and blamed by Igor for most things. It’s appropriate the first mention of her is comparing her to Woah Vicky, an internet personality and rap star who is known for her vibrant insolence and arrogance.
Tyler’s favorite part of this song is 2:13. “Sounds like a cloud melting. Beautiful harmonies”, he writes. In a conversation with Rick Rubin, Tyler mentioned that he wrote the modulated section of the chorus because “the song doesn’t have a bridge […]. I was like, ‘I need to put something in the middle somewhere that just goes there […]. I’m gonna add four chords that feel like a waterfall, and then ramp it back to the original progression.’”
After this cool moment, Igor sings a new part of the song, saying he doesn’t want confrontation, complication, or side information. He also mentions that his love interest won’t talk to him. Lastly, he says that he needs to know what’s happening because he’s “for real”. He’s telling his lover that this instance of apology is for real. He wants a clean slate and just needs the basics to approach the situation in a mature way.
As Igor finishes the track by singing “Don’t leave, it’s my fault” a few more times, another layer of his voice can be heard counting up. He says “one” once, “two” twice, and “three” thrice. After this, the lead vocal track does some scatting around before being cut off by I THINK, the next track on the album.
As of now, it is known that Igor is emotionally unstable and seeking a true relationship. It is also known that that there is a love interest, and that love interest’s ex-girlfriend. Lastly, there are a few motifs under our belts, instrumental and lyrical. We can start to connect the dots on our own, but doing so would spoil the completely perfect story laid in front of him.
EARFQUAKE clearly has a conflict. Though it is not known as to what this dispute is, and here’s why: this song, like IGOR’S THEME, is an overview of the places we’ll go, people we’ll meet, and emotions we’ll feel on the journey through this album. Where IGOR’S THEME is dark, malicious, and brooding, EARFQUAKE is apologetic, confused, and heart wrenching. While IGOR’S THEME focuses on Igor himself, EARFQUAKE takes a step back to show the bigger picture that is to be dealt with. The two tracks are complementary and act as a prologue to the ensuing adventure.
Stay tuned for an article about the third track on the album and the first chapter of the real story, “I THINK”. Track three gives a second to breathe before listeners are swallowed by a crowd of emotions.
Read Joey’s other IGOR breakdowns here.