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Synesthesia & Charles Baudelaire: How Tyler The Creator Creates Worlds

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Tyler The Creator just dropped his album ‘Call Me If you get lost’. I'm already a heavily outspoken Tyler fan so you can already assume my opinion about the album but it was fire, it exceeded my expectations & it speaks to broader points about the potential of art presentation with the internet, that Tyler helped shape & continues to revolutionize. Tyler is more of a filmmaker or worldbuilder than a rapper or producer, even though he excels at those things too.

Tyler calls himself 'Tyler Baudelaire' in the album, the music videos & montages accompanying the album are all directed by Tyler's alter ego Wolf Haley. This world is a bit more gritty, grainy & dimly lit than Tyler's usual ultra saturated world, but it's still very colourful. The other albums were usually set in Los Angeles, this was set mostly in Europe, with frequent references to Geneva & Paris. Tyler has always been very fond of Wes Andersons cinematography style and the influence continues to present itself through his stylistic evolution with Tyler using Andersons infamous pastel colours.

I believe the name Baudelaire comes from the French Poet Charles Baudelaire, there were various allusions to French breads like croissants & brioches throughout the album, and in the sketches, possibly an ode to the Parisian poet. Baudelaire is renowned for using poetry as a means of innovation. He fundamentally changed the way that people read, understood, and experienced poetry, & he unwittingly created the pathway for our multimedia world where artists like Tyler thrive.

Charles Baudelaire created elaborate lists of sensory "correspondences". Explaining Baudelaire's system of correspondences, A.G. Lehmann writes:

"On Baudelaire's theory, every colour, sound, odour, conceptualized emotion (love, hate, cf affect), every visual image, even if complex (a ship, a carcass), is in some way bound up with an equivalent in each of the other fields: one only, we may infer. "

Baudelaire's system depends on associations evoked by the content of a word. He would pair ideas together to form a sense of synesthesia. Baudelaire believed "Color... thinks by itself, independently of the object it clothes” He saw everything about an object as independent & giving off their own information.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. People who have synesthesia are called synesthetes.

The word “synesthesia” comes from the Greek words: “synth” (which means “together”) and “ethesia” (which means “perception). Synesthetes can often “see” music as colors when they hear it, and “taste” textures like “round” or “pointy” when they eat foods.

Tyler's music is synth heavy, & his world is saturated, colourful, it even has its own taste, and it does all this while being genuinely introspective & honest.

Tyler The Creator creates art in the digital world, music is no longer just the sounds & the album cover, it’s an all encompassing experience. When kids used to hear Pink Floyd songs in the 70s they used to see colours, the technology limited those artists from giving the full scope of the idea. How many filmmakers existed before film was ever a medium? Those poets expressed the inclination through the tools they had at hand.

Technology limits & expands art, first composers like Mozart & Beethoven had to develop a language for music in order to transcribe it because they couldn't record it, then you could only hear music on a record player, then Walkman's & iPods, then shows with lightwork & staging, now with the rise of the internet, social media & smart phones, & the ever growing virtual reality space, art has to evolve into that multimedia realm, we are all experiencing synesthesia, which is where artists like Tyler The Creator will obviously thrive.

Music doesn't have to be just music anymore, it can be the full idea. We are only 40 years removed from Michael Jackson revolutionizing the music video, Tyler helped revolutionize the full scope presentation of a creative idea, he's one of the first people to utilize social media to create totally refined ideas on a multimedia scale where everything thematically, & aesthetically lines up to create a complete world, and he's gotten much better at it very recently.

Tyler The Creator started off with the Odd Future collective, their story is widely known & heavily documented. Tyler The Creator wanted to create a magazine where he would talk about his favourite movies, shows, songs, colours, photographers, etc. through posting online he met with other eclectic people in those fields, various underground musicians, photographers, skaters and artists that would go on to form the Odd Future collective. They didn't sound like anyone & they didn't want to, they were creating their own world through weird graphic designs, bright, loud obnoxious colourful personalities, clothes & characters, social media videos, vines, shows like loiter squad, YouTube & music.

They would make their own weird documentaries, they would post videos of themselves just being public nuisances, they would create trailers for movies that would never come out, they would show you the world behind the music so you can understand how the artists view the world, they lived creatively & expressed it.

Limiting creatives to one source of expression never made sense, but due to how industries were set up musicians couldn't be filmmakers, comedians wouldn't be accepted as musicians. Tyler & Friends intuitively understood that you could do anything now that you can control the media yourself. If someone loves music, chances are they'll love film, poetry, philosophy, science & art in all shapes and forms, because ultimately it's all the same inclination. When I create music I'm never absentmindedly creating music, I'm in thought about various other aspects of my life, I'm influenced by art, stories, nature, movies, poetry & paintings through history, the music is only part of the idea.