IGOR: A Complete Breakdown. Part 3: I THINK
Man I wish you would call me / by your name ‘cause I’m sorry / this is not apology / you are such a distraction.
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. 3, I THINK
We’ve been introduced to our main character, Igor. We’ve met his love interest, and that love interest’s ex girlfriend. We know that there’s going to be some sort of love dynamic at play. Appropriately so, our first song in the IGOR narrative, I THINK, drops the floor from under us with four counts of four, and we land in a crowded formal dance with a drum sample of Nkono Teles’ Get Down. A groovy, four-on-the-floor drum beat with some tom drums thrown in for extra head-bob material.
We’re hit with a few distorted synth sounds too low to decipher and then greeted by a descending chord progression in a minor key. Igor drops his first verse:
“I don’t know where I’m going / but I know what I’m showing / feelings, that’s what I’m pouring / what the ____ is your motive?”
Here, Igor is admitting that he doesn’t know what lengths he’s going for this love interest. However, he is aware that he is pouring out his heart and making himself appear vulnerable, as exemplified in the previous track. He then asks his lover what their motive is. The use of a curse word is normally overlooked in hip hop and rap, but I believe that the placement of this is to put emphasis on how important this question is. Something about the controversy of curse words adds a punch to this line.
Igor is very contradictory in his words. We’ve established that he’s emotionally unstable, and as a result, he always talks one-sided. He hardly lets any response in between his thoughts:
“Man I wish you would call me / by your name ‘cause I’m sorry / this is not apology / you are such a distraction.”
Directly after saying he’s sorry, he instantly says that he wasn’t apologizing, and calls his love interest a distraction. Here, the tension the word distraction creates is as intriguing as cursing. Distraction doesn’t rhyme with anything on the preceding verse, causing a sort of dissonance in the rhythm of the quartet. This helps build tension and support the ideas at hand.
After a few more similar bars, the hook comes in full force with singers Solange, Anthony Evans, Amanda Brown, and Tiffany Stevenson:
“I think I’m falling in love, this time I think it’s for real”
This hook is very in depth for just a simple thought. First off, Igor thinks he’s falling in love. He isn’t sure because of his instability. Second, He thinks it’s “for real”, which is a direct play off of the first words from EARFQUAKE, “for real, for real this time.”. Because he isn’t sure of his own love, we can tell he is also unsure of how to tell his love interest. This is conveyed by Igor repeatedly asking, “How can I tell ya?”. Furthermore, the minor key of the song directly contrasts the idea of love and seems to tell us what Igor’s conscience is telling him.
The second verse is only three lines, which is an instance of asymmetry to go along with the cut-and-paste scrapbook feel this album will emanate.
“Wasted, boy, I need your attention / I’m off balance, I need some fixin’ / I’m your puppet you are Jim Henson.”
In these lines, Igor appears to be drunk. His lines reflect this as he starts stating what he wants: Attention, Fixing, and for his lover to know he’s available. The final line of this verse can go any direction. Being drunk damages your judgement, and it’s a notorious cliche that getting drunk in a public place or party leads to sex or some type of romantic encounter. Igor contributes to this by saying that his love interest has full control, calling him Jim Henson. Jim Henson is the creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street, two franchises that revolutionized puppetry and entertainment as a whole. Holding his counterpart in such a high regard and himself in a lower one also reflects how strongly Igor feels. As we’ll find later in the subsequent track PUPPET, Igor is willing to sacrifice his own happiness to make ends meet.
In the short music video released for this song, Igor is walking through a crowded school dance as the hook plays, requests a song from the DJ, and fights the crowd to follow his love interest. This scene of the music video captures the hectic situation of the song, and also provides a perfect shot of a moment in the IGOR narrative. Igor has a very all-or-nothing attitude that has an extreme gravity based on his attraction to his counterpart.
Tyler has stated that his favorite part of this song is the bridge. He’s also gone on record saying that about seven or eight different versions of the bridge exist. He described this to Rick Rubin:
“I was like, ‘I need to perfect this bridge’… there’s two other bridges with Solange on it… singing back and forth and stuff but I was like, ‘it’s not perfect.’… I was like, ‘What do I want to do? Again, what world is this? Where is this living? I want to be in Studio 54 dancing to this.’”
Here’s the tweet Tyler posted to elaborate on why it’s his favorite part:
Finally, four more counts of that catchy “four” sample directs us to a louder, more vibrant hook, complete with Igor ad-libbing “falling in love now”, synths striking chords and gliding on different melodies, and synth bass in full effect, all built around our main drum sample of Get Down from Nkono Teles’ 1982 album, Afro Music Party.
Now that the song is coming to a close, a piano joins the fun, playing chords and striking notes artistically. This piano will strike a chord that leads directly into our next track, BOYFRIEND. Stay tuned for an article on BOYFRIEND, the fourth track and most recently released as a bonus track on physical copies of the album only. Now that Igor has acknowledged his emotions, he’s going to seize the moment with the height of his bipolar mentality.
Stay Tuned for an article breaking down BOYFRIEND, the second movement of an unforgettable symphony
Listen to I THINK on Spotify. Also, listen to Tyler, the Creator’s Beats 1 interview or Broken Record discussion.
Read Joey’s other IGOR breakdowns here.
Joey is a striving musician as well as a journalist. His main focus is on the breaking down of popular albums and the in-depth analysis that it can offer. Check out his complete breakdown series of articles.