The TRU Brain Trust takes a look at what’ll probably be one of this year’s most talked about release. But is it actually any good?
Goblin is really disjointed…and I’m not sure that in this instance it’s a bad thing. Outside of tracks like ‘She‘, ‘Her‘, and ‘Fish‘, which feature slower, piano dominant melodies, the production sounds like it’s influenced from some sedated Donnie Darko-bender/minimalist binge. Tyler has more of a melodic spoken flow than a noticeable cadence to his rapping, which allows him to stretch syllables and create some unique sounding lines on the album. His subject content is all over the place, mostly consisting of his storytelling implying how different he is from those around him. But if I were a betting man, I’d guess as soon as someone asks Tyler why his album lacks any lyrical cohesion he’d fly the hipster flag screaming “this is just who I am!” The project sounds like a kid trying to carve out his niche in the industry while being “trueish” to himself. I’d guess as he ages he’ll be able to structure his albums more effectively and give up a little of the “being weird just to be weird” mantra and put that energy into honing his art. Then again, maybe Tyler, The Creator will turn into the Joker of the rap industry. I kind of hope we burn down the jungle.
It plays like the superior half of a double album dubbed Bastard. He’s still firing missiles at his missing dad, still griping about the lack of blog love on 2DB, but he’s added a new category of critics to the list: those who complain about his violent themes. Funny, it’s the redundant rhymes and monochromatic production on Goblin that will guarantee critical carping. Still, songs like ‘Analog’ and ‘Tron Cat’ attest to his potential for greatness. Same rant, different targets.
It’s probably too early to proclaim something as my favorite album of a year that’s not complete yet, right? I’ve been rockin’ to Goblin ever since I got the proverbial “preview” copy, and I’m enamored. Not sure if it’s because I identify with Tyler – bastard child, misunderstood nigger. I loved Bastard, and I love that Tyler expanded on those ideas and brought us Goblin, his latest opus. He blew up the idea of artists using their music as therapy, and drops an album that feels like we’re sitting in this psychiatrist’s office, watching him spill his guts. But before arriving, we dropped some shrooms and the thoughts and feelings took flight and became a movie. Khaled and others might scream about every activity being a movie, but when you listen to Goblin, you should understand Tyler’s desire to become a director. This album is everything Tyler wanted it to be, for good or ill. Maybe it’s like Deal – The Villain told me, that maybe the lack of good music can elevate certain albums into a different light, but it’s not often you find someone who is so creative with how open he can be with his feelings, thoughts and emotions. Disturbing or not, the game needs this. This might not be the spark of a new movement, but that movement’s movement will be citing Goblin as a reference to how they overthrew the system.
‘Goblin‘ feels like the sequel to ‘Bastard‘ on all fronts, it hits the familair notes Wolf Gang fans have come to love from Tyler, The Creator but pours them into a smartly built narrative ending with a cinematic finale. Despite the insanity it’s easy to root for Tyler as the protagonist of Goblin‘s story, especially since he’s so much his own voice. Tyler is obviously fully in control of his creativity but unfortunately seems to have a much harder time killing his proverbial darlings (the songs themselves) than he has trouble with killing people in his songs themselves. The album probably could’ve accomplished the same in 20 minutes less and lingers for too long at points, but when the epic pitch-black ending is finally reached, staring into the darkness like Luke Skywalker at the end of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, it’s hard not too wonder where he’s going to take this tale next.
Sketch The Journalist
Those who judge Tyler, the Creator or Odd Future after only hearing “Yonkers” or a handful of YouTube clips (like I started to) are not engaging in an intellectually honest appraisal of their work. Yes, it’s shocking. Yes, it’s violent. Yes, it’s profane. But underneath the rape fantasy lyrics laden with f-bombs (that rhyme with both “muck” and “maggot”) lies a concept album about a suicidal teenager venting through an array of audio pain-tings. If you can get past tracks like “Transylvania” and “B***h Suck D**k,” which can come off like items sold at Spencer Gifts (aka The Piss Off Your Parents Store), you’ll hear songs like “Nightmare” and “Window” which allow you to peer into the narrator’s internal monologues/therapy sessions. The character is not the hyper-masculine, money worshiping caricature inhabiting radio rap. Instead, he’s bullied, abandoned, and relies on chronic masturbation to relieve loneliness and rejection. He also expresses a Drake-level of self awareness and fear of the pressure caused by large doses of Be-Careful-What-You-Wish-For early fame. It’s art, but not entertainment. I am not amused by stories of mentally unstable youth who appear to take twisted pride in being a social menace and reject a faith in Christ I believe can heal. Should this type of music be packaged and marketed? That’s debatable. My hope is that there would never be a need for anyone to have to articulate such despair.
Sidenote: My rating below is an evaluation of the quality of craftsmanship and should not necessarily be interpreted as a recommendation. This project is only for the most mature, emotionally balanced, and discerning listeners.
When looking at Goblin, it’s hard not to consider it Bastard on ‘roids. All the same themes from Bastard are here, and songs like ‘Bitch Suck Dick‘ feel like a part 2 of the song ‘Tina‘ from Tyler’s first outing. However, like all the great sophomore albums out there, Goblin takes the same formula and makes it ten times better, and then piles on a new layer of new themes that make the final product that much more enjoyable. Songs like ‘She‘ featuring Wolf Gang crooner Frank Ocean, which could’ve never fit on Bastard, now fit perfectly with the flow of Goblin, and is a true inarguable testament that Tyler and crew actually are getting better. Everything from the posse cut ‘Windows‘ to the bouncing instrumental of ‘AU79‘ makes you feel proud that this gang of kids put down the spraypaint and knocked it out of the park. As always, Odd Future isn’t for everyone, and there are a few moments where the shock angle goes thin for a few bars, but it’s hard to argue that there is a more standout and game-changing album to come out this year.