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Tyler, The Creator – GOBLIN album review

Tyler, The Creator – GOBLIN

Released: 10 May 2011 

     GOBLIN is the second installment in the 3-chapter story told by Tyler, The Creator/Wolf Haley. Tyler’s “therapist” (who is later revealed to be Tyler’s own conscience) confirms this triplet series at the beginning of Tyler’s first album, BASTARD. GOBLIN picks up right where BASTARD’s outro, Inglorious, left off. Inglorious is a song about Tyler’s dad and how Tyler would love to kill him and commit suicide, letting “the bullet play hero”. GOBLIN picks up immediately after this scene, with Tyler’s “therapist” commenting “You wouldn’t do that Tyler, kill yourself or anyone, you don’t have the balls to do it“.

Storyline/Concept Breakdown

     Tyler begins GOBLIN by directly addressing critics’ criticisms, unrealistic expectations set by fans, and other subjects where he has been a target (particularly his racy subject matter). He begins to attack critics by saying that they love to highlight his “rape-y” and controversial lyrics, saying his music is all for shock value, while ignoring his deeply personal songs such as “Inglorious.” The intro is an onslaught on everyone in Tyler’s life (except his OFWGKTA members, who get “dealt with” later on in the album), including his fans.

     On GOBLIN, Tyler seems to suffer with the same problems he dealt with on BASTARD – his dad’s absence, “Raquel”, and the fact that no one understands him. He’s able to milk those ideas out for another solid LP.

     Tyler alienates himself throughout GOBLIN. He disses his critics, original underground fans, and dismisses celebrity fans (such as Kanye West, whom he calls out by name), he murders all of his OFWGKTA group members, then eliminates the “therapist” by revealing that it is only his conscience. By the end of the album, Tyler has completely isolated himself.

     Tyler admits that he’s still plagued by suicidal/angry thoughts in the intro when he admits “I’m just a teenager who admits he’s suicide prone my life is doing pretty good, so that date is postponed….for now“. The killing of himself and vacating of the “therapist” character sets up a scene where Tyler is alone by himself. No one to talk to or vent to. This is likely setting up Tyler’s next album, WOLF. The title suggests that Tyler’s “alter-ego” Wolf Haley (who is rapping on the song Radicals) is taking over now that Tyler has found his true self after eliminating everyone else. He has no shoulder to lean on or anyone to talk him out of his nonsense, thus WOLF is able to takeover and by the end of the album on the track Golden, Tyler completely breaks down mentally and emotionally.

Musical Breakdown

     She featuring Frank Ocean SOUNDS like it should be the lead single – a rare characteristic not usually associated OFWGKTA’s music – radio friendly songs. It SOUNDS like it should be played on the radio. Frank provides an addicting, crooning hook and Tyler twists his rap delivery in ways not seen before. It’s refreshing in a way (much to the dismay of the “Underground Real Hip-Hop Fans” that Tyler always talks about, who never want their favorite artists to change).

Tyler, The Creator GOBLIN mask era crica 2011

     Another interesting point on this album is Analog featuring Hodgy Beats. Analog is another song about a girl, a total of 4 songs dedicated to women this piece. As someone who is knowledgeable on Tyler’s music, listening to this song and imagining the characters walking down the beach and romantically watching the sunset, you expect Tyler to present some kind of volta and kill/rape/kidnap the girl – but it doesn’t happen – which is almost anti-climatic in a sad/funny way. The song ends with the characters living and falling in love.It’s almost sad that, as a seasoned Tyler listener, you expect Tyler to kill off the female character “Sarah“-style. This is a departure from Tyler and OFWGKTA’s ultra-shock, over-the-top violent lyrics.

     Window features every rapper on OFWGKTA (except Earl) and is the moment in the album where Tyler kills off his physical allies and entities. The OF members are introduced in an attempt to calm Tyler; musically this is translated to every member’s calm, laid back verse flow, which can be correlated to a friend trying to calmly talk their friend out of suicide. Tyler is the only verse on the song with an aggressive flow – which can be correlated to a suicidal person not trying to hear their friend, or anyone else’s attempts to change their suicidal thoughts. Think of a suicidal man standing at the ledge of a 10 story building ready to jump, with police, firemen, and civilians watching while his closest family and friends try to talk him out of it – that’s what Window is. A very strong angle taken by Tyler.

     The strongest song on the album is Yonkers, where Tyler vents to his therapist/conscience and, by the end of the song, Tyler is absent and Wolf Haley has taken his place. The song plays out very effectively  with it’s “walking paradox” theme and the second verse really highlights Tyler’s internal frustration and anger.

Cons

     There are a few drawbacks throughout GOBLIN. To much of Tyler’s dismay, there are some disturbingly adolescent remarks throughout the album. No, I’m not talking about the “Kill people, burn s***, f*** school” chants. What I’m talking about is that I could go without knowing that Tyler has an uncircumcised penis (as he tells us on Fish). Also, the production does become a little nerve-racking; Transylvania‘s (which is a Left Brain beat) production lacks. It’s supposed to be a haunting, upbeat instrumental but sounds like a poorly put together two-second low-fi loop made on production equipment from the 90s. Tyler more than makes up for it with beats like Sandwitches and Yonkers.

SONG BY SONG RATING + VERDICT

Goblin: 5/5
Yonkers:  5/5
Radicals: 4.25/5 (musically, this is a fail. But as far as representing Tyler and OFWGKTA, this is an anthem. The great divide.)
She (featuring Frank Ocean):  4.75/5
Transylvania: 2/5
Nightmare: 4.75/5
Tron Cat: 5/5
Her: 3.5/5
Sandwitches: 4/5 (Riot music)
Fish/Boppin’ Bitch: 2.5/5
Analog (featuring Hodgy Beats): 3.5/5
Bitch Suck Dick (featuring Jasper Dolphin and Taco Bennet): .5/5 (to be fair though, this is a fun song, but yeah, as a song this “sucks dick”. The best part of this song is where Tyler offs Jasper and Taco. Hopefully they’ll never rap again.)
Window (featuring Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats, and Mike G):  4.5/5
AU79: 4.25/5
Golden: 4.5/5

4.1/5

     GOBLIN is one of OFWGKTA’s highlights, and while musically it isn’t that strong of an album, conceptually, it is quite thick. The album is essentially an emotional breakdown on wax, and Tyler flexes his creativity with how the storyline plays out through usic. GOBLIN gets a nod of approval and major creativity points.

Will Wolf self-destruct? Will Tyler avenge his OFWGKTA members? Find out on the next Tyler, Creator album, WOLF!!!

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