“We don’t f-cking make horrorcore you f-cking idiots. Listen deeper than the music before you put it in a box. Wolf Gang.”
Cocky, witty, confused, vulnerable. Tyler, The Creator is an interesting combination of life’s most debated attributes. His music; like none other. He uses his lyrics to covey his thoughts by rapping, talking and chanting about whatever he wants. His lyrics and flow go hand-in-hand with his amazingly handcrafted beats. The production on each and every track really hits home, and Tyler, The Creator has no one to thank but himself. That’s the way he likes it. He’s a very independent individual. Goblin is the album that Tyler wanted to listen to, so he made it, and now he hopes that the world will pick up on what he calls “char-boiled n-gger on these dark beats.”
Goblin, from beginning to end, is the biggest mind-fuck you are going to listen to this year. However, it is also the realest album. Tyler, The Creator isn’t afraid to speak his mind. At the same time, he isn’t afraid to show his vulnerable, helpless side. A lot of Tyler’s personality shines through via conversations/raps between him and his therapist: a voice that plays in the background of almost every song on the album. This voice of the ‘therapist’, whose words were written by Tyler himself, adds a deeper level to Goblin that is normally never seen on any album, hip-hop or not. It makes the listening experience complex and exciting, which means this is not an album that is intends to just be listened to in the background and have the lyrics ignored. Tyler, The Creator is asking for your undivided attention. Sit down, shut up, and just listen.
Tyler’s second studio album opens with the title track, “Goblin.” The voice of Tyler’s therapist sounds off, telling Tyler he needs someone to talk to. Tyler responds: “I’m not a f-cking role model/I’m a 19 year old fucking emotional coaster with pipe-dreams/since Kanye tweeted telling people he’s bumpin’ all of my shit/these mother f-ckers think I’m supposed to live up to something, shit…” The tone with which Tyler relays his thoughts really portrays the state of mind he is in. The beat, all of which are produced by Tyler himself, is something never heard from any other producer or artist. The beat is plain creepy, and the voice in the background playing over it gives it that eerie tone. The almost seven minute long track sets up Goblin for some epic story telling. “Alright, uh, she was telling me you went to New York…”
I would probably not be writing this review right now if it weren’t for “Yonkers,” the second single released from Goblin back in February. It grabbed everyone’s attention, and then some. The “video of the year,” according to Kanye West, who ‘co-signed’ Tyler’s controversial video for “Yonkers,” shot Tyler to super-stardom within the rap/hip-hop community almost overnight. That’s when Goblin landed a spot on everyone’s most anticipated/most wanted lists, and rightfully so. “Yonkers” as a song is amazing in its own right, but the music video is the total package. While no one is expected to only listen to the track when watching the video, it is no doubt the ideal way. But “Yonkers” fits in perfectly with Goblin, with help from an additional verse and some added production.
Tyler’s “random disclaimer” plays at the beginning of “Radicals,” which is when Goblin gets real hardcore. Tyler shows off his simple but effective production on the beat with a hook that will stick in the heads of many, for better or worse: “Kill people, burn shit, f-ck school!” “Radicals” clearly evokes Tyler’s rebellious side. Tyler screams on the track that he will not apologize, bow down or anything of the sort to or for anyone. But then, in the middle of all his raging, the beat switches in favor of a more up-lifting tone, and Tyler shows his more compassionate side: “Odd Future Wolf Gang/we came together ‘cause we aint’ have nobody else/do you?/you just might be one of us/are you?” Then Tyler goes back to ranting about his hatred for school. The whole concept of the track might be a little too much for some, but it continues to set the tone for the rest of the album.
The first feature spot on Goblin comes from Odd Future’s rising star, Frank Ocean, on “She.” The track is being set up as the next single, which makes perfect sense. But all of the single talk aside, the beat rides out with some addictive sound effects and Frank Ocean’s amazing vocals tease the Odd Future songs that are sure to come in the future from both Tyler’s and Ocean’s new found fame. Then comes “Transylvania” which is a bunch of jumbled thoughts from Tyler. His voice is altered to be deeper and raspier, which sounds kind of cool, but makes everything kind of random. It is also the only track on the album that isn’t produced by Tyler, which could explain the less than stellar production. “Nightmare” puts Goblin back on track with some wild production and amazing flow: “When I was younger I would smile a lot/I’m gettin’ older, gettin’ bolder with a wiser top/now I’m drunk driving lap full of Budweiser tops/life is a movie and you’re just a prop…” It’s one of the songs on Goblin where Tyler just speaks some of his thoughts. “Nightmare” also gives some more insight into Tyler’s personal life: “My father called me to tell me he loved me/I have a better chance of getting Taylor Swift to f-ck me.” Emotional sarcasm is something Tyler uses a lot throughout the album. It’s a style that really gives these songs deep meaning no matter how goofy Tyler might be on each and every track. On the next track, “Tron Cat,” Tyler raps about what his alter ego, who is actually named Tron Cat, tells him to do in the back of his mind. The outro on the song is incredible; the beat almost sounds like a wave, going in one ear and out the other, alternating how high it is on either the right or left speaker. It’s hard to explain but it truly messes with the mind.
Goblin is a strong album throughout, no doubt about that, but the second half of the album is nowhere near as strong as the first half. The production is consistent and maintains the same quality, but some of the beats start to sound too familiar to other previous tracks. “Fish” is all over the place. The beat takes on three major changes throughout and almost makes you want to skip right past it. The production and flow from Tyler is really good on the later part of the track, but getting there is almost a chore. Cue a few tracks that act as Odd Future showcases for Tyler friends such as Hodgy Beats, Franks Ocean, Domo Genesis, Taco, Jasper Dolphin and more. Each of these artists really brings something unique to each track they grace and preview what’s to come on future Odd Future discs. On “Window,” Tyler goes through what sounds like a traumatizing situation with his Odd Future buddies. I’m not going to spoil it here. When I first listened and realized what was happening at one point on the track, I was fascinated. The combination of the beat and the conversations between Tyler and his therapist are mesmerizing. On “Golden,” Tyler raps over the most depressing beat on the album. He discusses his feelings on what occurred on “Window” and just about his life in general. The story telling is depressing, insane, and extremely entertaining all at the same time.
Tyler, The Creator doesn’t take life too seriously, but you wouldn’t know that by some of the tracks on Goblin. Granted, a lot of what Tyler raps about on Goblin is fiction, but some of it is clearly not. That leaves the listener with a feeling of concern and confusion on what message Tyler is trying to get out there regarding his music and life. If anything, it’s just Tyler having fun in a messed up, twisted way. Goblin isn’t an album that will mesh well with an afternoon drive through the park, but take the time to listen to Tyler, The Creator’s crazy lyrics and you will find one of the most creative and engrossing albums in a long time. Get lost in the beats, zone out, and let Tyler speak. He has a lot to say.