Following the critical and commercial acclaim of 2017’s Flower Boy, Tyler, the Creator—the now reformed enfant-terrible of the softboy hip-hop world—opened up a world of artistic possibilities for himself. Given his disregard for public opinion, it isn’t entirely surprising that his next artistic endeavour would be a new rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” for the recent remake of the children’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and an accompanying EP inspired by the green man himself.
Vaguely amusing at best, The Grinch EP teeters between irony and sincerity; its inability to commit to either camp is ultimately its greatest shortcoming. As a pseudo-children’s album, its complete lack of lewd language is its most striking feature for frequent listeners of Tyler. In comparison to the vulgarity of past releases, Tyler’s newfound commitment to censorship is a strange move. If the EP had a target audience, it would be twenty-something ex-Odd Future fans who are also new parents. Considering that Tyler once rapped “chilling with the Polar Bear / That used to work for coke, Santa’s sniffin’ coke” on a track aptly titled “Fuck Santa,” hearing the self-proclaimed “Satan’s Son” mumble rap about what type of milk he likes in his hot chocolate is certainly a change of pace. It’s two percent milk for those who are curious.
None of the tracks exceed two and a half minutes, which is ultimately for the best. It’s obvious that Tyler had fun with the EP, even managing to get Santigold and Brockhampton-attaché Ryan Beatty to feature on the festive track “Lights On.” Sonically, The Grinch EP is the younger sibling to Flower Boy, both incorporating similar elements of neo-soul, while also favouring a smoother sound over punchier, jarring rap rants. Still, Tyler maintains the same bravado while rapping about stealing presents from all the Whos down in Whoville on the track “Big Bag” that he displayed when talking about crashing private jets and killing B.o.B. Sadly, The Grinch EP never reaches the level of pure fun and catharsis that it could, and instead will have to spend this holiday dinner relegated to the kids’ table.