Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
XL Recordings: 2011

There was Tyler The Creator and Hodgy Beats of the upstart Odd Future collective, jumping abundantly around a smoky, dimly-lit 30 Rock studio in New York City last February. Members of The Roots band donned dark, hooded sweatshirts as they simulated the ominous instrumental to Tyler’s “Sandwitches”, one of the many highlights from his highly-anticipated Goblin album. The lively performance would be Odd Future’s television debut, an opportunity for a national audience to put faces to names that bubbled under the surface for three years. And if nothing else, maybe they could send Mos Def into screaming hysteria.

Listening to the lyrics, it’s probably too easy to classify Tyler and his group as masters of horrorcore: the creator eats a roach, vomits the remains and hangs himself in the self-directed “Yonkers” video. He rhymes about raping a pregnant woman and calling it a threesome, while also flirting with the idea of stabbing Bruno Mars in his esophagus. And for whatever reason, Tyler seems infatuated with country music star Taylor Swift, even if it’s just for physical reasons. But with the controversy so overt, it’s also too easy for our ears to embrace the darkness, even if the artist himself advises against it. “We don’t fuckin’ make horrorcore, you fuckin’ idiots/Listen deeper than the music before you put it in the box,” Tyler says on the album version of “Sandwitches.”

Tyler is correct, though. At the heart of Goblin, he’s a conflicted young man who loves his mother and values her support, even if she’s too busy chasing her own personal goals. Tyler also seeks approval from his absent father one moment and lashes out at him the next. Take “Yonkers”, for instance, in which the artist wonders if his father would even like him. But by the next song — the mosh-inducing “Radicals”, he’s writing him off altogether: “I ain’t got no motherfuckin’ daddy, he ain’t teach me shit.” Through it all, Tyler is merely a liberal 20-year-old who yearns for female affection — whether it’s romantic love or the occasional sexual escapade with a random chick. There’s nothing really horrific about that — that sounds like the tales of a burgeoning star enjoying the perks of newfound fame.

Still, Tyler seems disinterested with overwhelming fame, as a few dollars and the freedom to do — and say — what he wants would clearly suffice. “I miss the days when this was fun, now it’s turned into work/Gettin’ legal, now I gotta watch the shit that I blurt out,” he rhymes on the methodical “Golden”, Goblin‘s airy concluding track. At many times throughout this extensive long player, it’s abundantly clear that the California native craves privacy and is not impressed by Kanye cosigns or internet fandom. On his temperamental Twitter feed, Tyler vacillates between light-hearted jest and full-throated frustration. Maybe that’s why Goblin is one of the most refreshingly honest releases in recent memory, a personal diary in which the artist battles his demons over a dense soundtrack of scant drum taps, sporadic guitar riffs and bass-heavy instrumentals.

Sonically, the album lives within the same vein as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, given its vast musical compositions and stubborn persistence to keep listeners tuned in for the long haul. Much like Kanye’s stellar release, Tyler’s indulgence tips a handful of the songs over the five-minute mark — a marathon by current hip-hop standards. But in some cases, namely “Fish” and the posse cut “Windows”, such ambition is unnecessary and threatens the vitality of the overall project. Goblin also runs off the rails a bit when Tyler attempts the girl tracks. Rather, the album sounds best when the artist is brooding and insulated, questioning himself and chastising others around him. And while Tyler bristles when his Odd Future click is compared with the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, the similarities are astounding, even down to the “Wolf Gang” chant affixed to the melody.

With Odd Future’s sudden popularity, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other young, aggressive artists ascend to the forefront. The same thing happened in the mid-’90s with the aforementioned Wu-Tang Clan, as their fame triggered a renaissance of gritty, lyrical dominance along the East Coast. With Tyler and his Odd Future gang, there’s an innocent petulance within their music, although it’s not for the light-hearted. In a recent New York Times report, Tyler vehemently dismissed any demands to grow up, especially since he’s having so much fun doing what he loves. Still, he’ll have to mature at some point and it will be interesting to see how — or if — he reinvents his public persona. You can’t eat roaches forever.

3.5 out of 5

10 thoughts on “Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

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  2. RodneyForReal|

    check out these faggots… fuckin insane remix of yonkers


    Odd Future is good, but BLKHRTS is for the children.


  4. If you are a Tyler the Creator Fan you are gonna like this:


  5. im kinda impressed, but not really. for now, they retain their title as The Ladera Heights Boys.™

  6. Frank_be|

    Im sorry I do not agree with this review at all. This album sucks. Niggas are being very generous to Tyler, because he’s an engaging personality and talented. Bastard was great rap music, Goblin is an overly wrought, over blown, less engaging version of it. Comparing the production to MBDTF is just plainly inaccurate. Whatever one thinks about MBDTF and Ye, the production was ambitious, layered, varied, masterfully engineered and mixed. Goblin is a hot mess production wise: novice synths, no swing or melody, REDUNDANT arrangements, and clunkering drums. As an okayp put it, the best thing Tyler could do is release the a capellas to it. Lastly, the statement that Tyler is disinterested in fame is nonsense. That lil nigga is obsessed with it. Goblin just shows he doesn’t know how to deal with the criticism that comes with it and he fucked up and responded to all his critics during the whole album. IMO he buckled under the pressure. I’d give this album two potholes

  7. Anonymous|

    I liked the album and it had its standouts – but definitely agree that the girl songs were pretty wack. Unfortunately if he continued the whole album in introspective self-loathing he would suffer criticism for excessive self-indulgence. 3.5 seems an accurate rating!


  8. Julien Loeper|

    pretty boring album. aorund a 2.5/5 this is just tyler using shock appeal to get to the mainstream audience. basically, he’s cycling through eminem’s career. maybe his next album will be his eminem show

  9. Great shit (Madvillainy smoke inhale noise) , Great shit. Seriously though this is the definitive review imo.

  10. Good review, I agree with a lot of it, namely your last point of Tyler having to grow up eventually. I liked this album but it was too similar to Bastard for me to be hopefully for anything in the future from him. Too much filler, too many tracks / lyrics about girls, and his emotional breakthroughs in the album were kind of corny. However, most of Goblin was recorded before there Fallon performance and Yonkers video that spiked Tyler’s fame, so I’m intrigued to hear his next album, Wolf, to truly see how he handles the fame / hype. But still, not hopeful

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