“Sorry Not Sorry” by Tyler, The Creator
On 31 March 2023, Columbia Records released the deluxe edition of Tyler, the Creator’s 2021 album “Call Me If You Get Lost”, which will be subtitled “The Estate Sale”.
Roughly 8 new songs were added to the original 16-track playlist in the process. The first of these new tracks that we we were introduced to was a song titled “Dogtooth“. And on March 29th, fans were treated to a second single from the deluxe edition, a track titled “Sorry Not Sorry”.
As with “Dogtooth”, “Sorry Not Sorry” was written and produced exclusively by Tyler, the Creator, with the tenured rapper also directing the song’s music video.
In the process of putting this piece together, he sampled a song named “He Made You Mine” (1978) by Brighter Side of Darkness, an R&B group that was around briefly during the 1970s.
The Lyrics of “Sorry Not Sorry”
The extended verse of this song most notably revolves around Tyler apologizing to different people and even “Mother Earth” at one point. And in this case, it may be best if we just go down the line and point out the different parties being addressed, since there seems to be a whole lot going on here, giving a sound glimpse into the psyche of the artist at hand.
First off, he appears to be apologizing to his mom and the fact “that the four minutes where (she sees her) son could feel like a chore”. That “four minutes” would likely be a reference to his music videos, as most pop songs tend to measure in somewhere between three and four minutes in length.
Also, it’s not unusual to hear of rappers, as with Tyler apparently, who were raised in single-parent households and relatedly express concern over how their mothers react to the images they portray as industry artists.
Keeping within that familial theme, the vocalist then expresses remorse that he and his sister ‘ain’t as close as they should be’. Next comes his “old friends”, the ones whom his associations with have dissolved over time due to their respective “egos”.
And it has been reasonably put forth that Tyler may be referring to Odd Future, a popular hip-hop crew he’s a part of that’s still technically extant but for the most part is considered a thing of the past.
Next, the rapper addresses “the freaks (he) led on”, i.e. the women whom, most simply put, he had hit-and-run relationships with. And the reason he’s doing so is because as implied, some were convinced that he was interested in something more serious – an idea he apparently played along with until becoming disinterested.
Sorry to all the guys that I had to hide
Afterwards comes perhaps the most-interesting line of the entire piece, where Tyler says “sorry to the guys (he) had to hide”. By this point in his career, the world has pretty much accepted that Tyler is bisexual, even though he has never actually come out as gay.
The reason such beliefs have persisted is because of innuendos such as this one, where he alludes to keeping his male romantic interests concealed. Along those same lines, the vocalist also apologizes to the women he has dated who perhaps didn’t know that he had homosexuality tendencies.
Mother Earth, I’m sorry
Sometimes afterwards comes the Creator’s apology to “Mother Earth”. He does so, most simply put, under the acknowledgment that driving a car “(pollutes) air with chemicals and dirt”. But as relayed, he will continue to do so nonetheless. So whereas far from being an environmentalist, the rapper is at least cognizant of the role his actions play in negatively affecting the ecology.
I’m sorry, my fans
Next, Tyler apologizes to his fans for changing over time. This is actually a topic many musicians have spoken of in song, how fanbases from earlier stages in their career are adverse to any major changes that may come later down the line.
The rapper doesn’t really expound on the issue. But what he’s getting at is that his dedicated, longtime listeners wouldn’t really understand what prompted such changes to his artistry, since they don’t know him personally.
I’m sorry, my ancestors
Then comes another really interesting part of the song, where Tyler says sorry, twice, ‘to his ancestors’.
He does so because he “know (he’s) supposed to fight”, i.e. make more of an effort to do his part in rectifying the plight of his oppressed people. But instead, he gets quite honest in revealing that he’s rather fallen for the allure of riches.
That confession then compels the rapper to go on sort of a mini-rant to assert the notion that he’s a real n*gga. For instance, Tyler harps back to the days when his family was impoverished. And he goes on to infer that now, as a successful musician, he has a different way of reaching back and helping the community not afforded to the average Blackman, i.e. those who tend to criticize him.
Indeed, Tyler addressing his haters is a subtheme permeating throughout this track and also the sentiment upon which he concludes it. In other words, it would be them especially whom the term ‘sorry, not sorry’ is directed towards. That is to say that he’s not privy to being condemned by people who don’t know him or think he isn’t real due primarily to the fact that he actually succeeded at his endeavors.