Tyler the Creator’s ‘A BOY IS A GUN’ tells a lavish story

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 5:07pm

Tyler, the Creator in "A BOY IS A GUN"

Tyler, the Creator in "A BOY IS A GUN" Buy this photo
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The music video for Tyler, the Creator’s “A BOY IS A GUN” follows the Igor alter ego yet again as he wanders aimlessly, angry and exasperated around a lavish mansion. With a platinum bowl cut, black shades and pastel suits, “A BOY” ventures into vulnerable territory, literally and figuratively. Whereas “EARFQUAKE” prods more at self-defeat and embodies a satirical slant with its music video, “A BOY IS A GUN” is livid and uncertain, a cauldron of unresolved emotional turmoil. The narrative of the music video is framed in ultra-saturated, grainy pastel blues and greens like a distressing Wes Anderson film. 

True to the title, a rifle consumes the width of the intro frame as Tyler, the Creator cocks it back to fire into an aquamarine sky. He then slumps forlornly on a stunning white staircase only to storm onto a golf field and fall on his face. From here we follow a series of vignettes that details an ongoing argument between Tyler and his lover. This can easily be split into parts — in the first, the artist is frustrated, pleading with his boyfriend to “take your hoodie off, why you hide your face from me?” The second ruptures any emotional containment, oscillating between Tyler begging his lover to “stay right here” and snarling “stay the fuck away from me.” An array of narratives and descriptions paints these verses, channeling themselves directly into the video. 

Every scene and scenario, from the lovebirds arguing in the bathroom to Tyler, the Creator’s lover bringing his ex-girlfriend to breakfast, is tinged with unease. Tyler argues, pleads and breaks down but no one acknowledges his anguish and pain. The characters drive, pack their bags and serve dinner, but do so passively, with no expressions crossing their face. They are yielding side characters to a protagonist who festers in heartache and distrust, a visual hyperbole to Tyler’s suspicion that his words fall on dead ears.  

“A BOY IS A GUN” is yet another landmark to Tyler, the Creator’s ever-maturing persona since Flower Boy. It toys with his standard music video hallmarks, but does so poignantly and meticulously, the spirit of the song embodying every frame. Tyler deftly transfigures Igor’s wounded spirit into a breathtaking, visual masterpiece as it traverses effortlessly through his toxic, engrossing love story.