Tyler, The Creator has always had an acceptance problem. The rapper has felt like an outsider in a world that doesn't understand him. At one point, he didn't embrace it, using it as fuel to drive the anger in his music. Now, it seems to be part of his public persona - the outcast becomes the outcry. But the irony of finding oneself is that it actually damages the music. "Flower Boy" showcases a rapper who has found his way, only to lose his individualized waltz in the process.

About "Flower Boy"

"Flower Boy" - sometimes known by an explicit alternate title - is the fourth studio album from Tyler, The Creator.

Columbia Records released the album, marking the first time Tyler, The Creator has worked under a major studio umbrella. Produced entirely by the artist, the record was released on July 21, 2017.

The album comes two years after his latest album, "Cherry Bomb." That album fared well via critical reviews, but still displayed a young man angry towards the world, with explicit titles for singles and curse words flying across headphones. Maturity was destined to come for the Odd Future frontman, whose lyrics were once deemed to be hateful. "Flower Boy" has almost none of that, at least in terms of the words. The production still eats Tyler, The Creator alive, though.

Tyler, The Creator turns the page

Any anger the rapper still possesses is tucked away on "Flower Boy." The lyrics are much more genuine and introspective. He's really trying to bare his soul. In the eyes of some, he's even trying to come out of the closet, which would be an ironic turn from when Tyler, The Creator was accused of being homophobic (although he did openly support the sexuality of Frank Ocean when made public).

The fact of the matter: Tyler, The Creator is coping with the same things every person in their mid-20s faces: anxiety, despair, loneliness. He's doing so from a perspective of somebody who has struck it rich, but that doesn't inhibit his emotions or feelings. In fact, it seems to only add to the isolation; why does somebody who should have it all still lack so much?

His music is furthering the sentiment in an odd way, though. There doesn't appear to be a single song on "Flower Boy" where the production doesn't dominate his voice. He's hiding behind the boastful tones, which mimic each other from track to track. The noises almost become his own echo chamber.

Some of his friends try to help him escape. Frank Ocean is featured prominently on "Flower Boy," keeping the Odd Future gang intact. Estelle popped up, as did Pharrell (sans credit on the last track). Even Lil Wayne lays down a verse on a one-minute interlude.

None of them can fully keep Tyler, The Creator above water, though. He's drowning in the deep crevices of his message. For large portions of the album, it's hard to tell what's real and what's fake.

There's not always a clear direction the rapper is trying to take things. Some moments are disenchanting and menacing, while others are brimming with optimism. Confusion is the modus operandi that carries the day.

Tyler, The Creator creating art for art's sake

"Flower Boy" transcends music - not necessarily in a good way, though. A lot of the album sounds like an attempt to paint a desolate picture. The production creates a surreal soundboard of acoustic emptiness. The landscape is barren so that there's no potential of things getting convoluted...and yet they do, suggesting it's all part of a scattered blueprint, where the painter doesn't quite have a firm grasp of his tools quite yet.

Music can be art, unquestionably.

But the music should still be at the core of the album. Tyler, The Creator seems to cross that threshold here. Take "Pothole" and "Garden Shed." The songs - featuring Jaden Smith and Estelle, respectively - both fade in and out from lyrical themes. They are overly focused on the weird, not the words. He's creating an aesthetic, but the execution leads to fumbled ideas being littered all over the place...like potholes.

Final thoughts

"Flower Boy" provides an introspective look at an artist who doesn't want to feel tortured anymore. But the torture was a major part of creating the Tyler, The Creator persona. Nobody is going to miss the misogyny and homophobia that used to run rampant through his lyrics.

But there needs to be some sort of direction or place the rapper takes us. On "Flower Boy," the emptiness doesn't just describe the emotional state - it describes the lack of purpose as well.

Best Song: "Who Dat Boy" (feat. A$AP Rocky) - The disenchantment and menace on the song, without being grotesque, is the Tyler, The Creator people know.

Worst Song: "Foreword" (feat. Rex Orange County) - Sets the directionless stage for "Flower Boy."

Rating: C+