If Goblin, the second solo-record from LA native Tyler Okonma, is any indication of some new artistic arc for the future of hip-hop then we are in truth really not moving much of anywhere. Riding a hype wave unseen in hip-hop for such a divisive artist since Marshall Mathers was pissing off Middle-America not being paid to advertise for them. Tyler and his Odd Future collective are poised to explode, though maybe not on the same level it is fitting to see Tyler follow a similar path of the artist he probably owes his largest debt to artistically. With an arsenal of themes including hyper misogyny, bloody theatrics, religious misgivings and at times uncompromisingly frightening violence Tyler and a few of his Odd Future cohorts are without any remorse and every close-minded “adult’s” worst nightmare. Though to write off Tyler--and more importantly the entirety of Odd Future—as homophobic reprobates would be a rash overreaction to a byproduct of the broken American family and over-saturation of modern media. Sure they are brash, blunt and at times disgusting, yet Tyler is equally eloquent as he is repulsive offering glimpses inside a mind serving enough wide-eyed honesty to compensate for all the ass-backwards U-turns. Flawed yes, but It is hard to not fall at least partially for Goblin’s charms--even as they can become few and far between with the record pushing well past an hour. These kids and they are without question kids, of Odd Future are talented but are also extremely raw and in need of a better editor--or at least maybe a few more years under their belt.
So yeah Tyler, The Creator dropped Bastard (2009) the finest in a mixed-bag collection of free mixtapes and albums from Odd Futures tumblr assault. And yes he is unequivocally charismatic—rarely has listening to someone wax poetic on raping, pillaging, and jacking off been so enamoring—but Bastard was probably not his benchmark record and neither is Goblin. Though this is not necessarily equal to a defect; one of Tyler’s best qualities is how easily relatable and honest he comes off as—Goblin wears its flaws with great pride and benefits immensely from this. Tyler’s beats are still big Neptune-y low-ends mixed with spooky synth lines that RZA would have killed for in his Gravediggaz days. The beats are repetitive, sure, but they fit Tyler’s aesthetic perfectly and no one else is really dropping the type of menace Tyler seems to shit out regularly.
“They are them/We are us” Tyler grumbles over a spacy synth lines right as “Sandwiches” begins to swell and in truth the kids keep to their word. Goblin and OF releases in general are all made in-house. Written, produced and recorded by this group of artists whose ages range from sixteen to twenty-four. But the connection runs deeper than that into an applied ethos: they are all, in some way, a representation of a pure Freudian Id. “The fuck you think I made Odd Future for?/To wear fucking suits and make good decisions?” Tyler proceeds to reveal later on “Sandwiches” and with this cocksure rockism Odd Future’s plans are laid out for all to see. Granted I’m sure the emotions run deeper than this— if “Nightmare’s” jarringly expositional hook concerning Tyler’s fear of death isn’t indication enough—but it is the brazen attitude and youthful exuberance present in Tyler’s exclamation; his rejection of social norms on an extremely bi-polar level that are his and OF’s finest and most aggravating qualities.
“I could live with the same hat/And the same flat-screen TV watching Flapjack/And the same bacon and waffles on a nice Saturday/Where I skate with the same fucking friends that/Didn't give a fuck about fame or a name, oh” Tyler explains to us on “Nightmare” in one of Goblin’s not-so-uncommon confessional moments. Playing that same line between exceptionally talented if albeit unpolished and vulgar gimmickry we saw Eminem handle with class and skill a decade ago. Tyler and OF could easily be considered results of Marshall’s media dominance since “My Name Is” first hit MTV. They dance around the same horrorcore themes and even as Tyler would love to have us believe otherwise it is hard to listen to either of of his solo-albums and not feel he is at least partially indebted to the likes of Em, Gravediggaz, Three Six Mafia and their gruesome yet deceptively thoughtful early recordings. Though much like these artist Tyler’s skill allows him to transcend any and all genre barriers we attempt to capture him in.
For all the rape gags and violent come-on's Goblin is for all intents and purposes therapy for Tyler—or at least one would assume with his low-pitched alter-ego returning from its Bastard fame to lead Tyler astray once more (I will not ruin Goblin’s vague story too much.) The Nineteen year-old can travel from berserk images of inner family turmoil to expulsing lines like: “Don't look at me, I'm 6'5" about to fucking cry/About another guy/but this is Golf Wang, do or die/I finally had a family/Dom's in another state/where the fuck is Riley?” This admission of insecurity and lack of direction without his closest friends is the kind of counter-weight that allows Tyler of to say shit like “Where I cut her like a barber with a Parkinson’s disorder” and get away with it. His sincerity not withstanding but the kid is able to elevate himself out of the muck effectively falling into shit and coming up squeaky-clean. Yet he didn’t slip and tumble but instead chose to dive head-first and maybe that is what makes Goblin so much easier to swallow. Make no mistake this is a hit-or-miss record, but it as such with fifteen tracks at seventy-four minutes. If only by virtue of the fact that so much was stuffed into the album you are able to find a solid forty-minute experience. No, this is not an excuse, but when the rest of Goblin is so great it is easy to just simply forget about missteps like “Boppin’ Bitch,” “Window,” “Transylvania,” “Bitch Suck Dick,” and “Radicals” and enjoy Goblin for what it is: a shockingly candid look inside the mind of a probably insane but unquestionably enthralling artist.
4. She (Featuring Frank Ocean)
7. Tron Cat
9. Sandwitches (Featuring Hodgy Beats)
10. Fish/Boppin' Bitch
11. Analog (Featuring Hodgy Beats)
12. Bitch Suck Dick (Featuring Jasper Dolphin & Taco)
13. Window (Featuring Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats & Mike G)
Tyler, The Creator (born March 6, 1991), is an American rapper and record producer. He is the leader of Los Angeles, CA hip hop crew OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). He has rapped on, and produced for, nearly every OFWGKTA release.
He released his debut solo album, "Bastard", in 2009. After signing to XL Recordings in February 2011 he released Yonkers, the lead single off his forthcoming album "Goblin", which was released on May 10, 2011.... read more