Album Review: Tyler the Creator, “Goblin”

Tyler the Creator's "Goblin" is a breath of fresh air within rap

By Alex Floro

The much anticipated, hyped-out beast that is Tyler the Creator’s “Goblin” slaps you in the face with musings of suicide, thoughts of rape and therapy sessions with an ominous psychiatrist Dr. TC (who could very well be a cousin of Dr. Trevis from Redman joints).  But aside from the obvious conclusions that people may reach, Goblin is Tyler’s cry to the confused, the doubting and even the band-wagoning to sit down and “listen deeper to the music before you put it in a box.”

Tyler has the creative ability and potential to produce records and lyrics at the level of the most seasoned veteran. In an album almost entirely produced by himself, Tyler uses wordplay like it was second nature, followed by raw beats you know haven’t been touched by the grimy hands of any record company executive. At it’s best, the album tests the lines of right and wrong and showcase his inner demons with a sincerity most 20-year-old guys wouldn’t dare to touch upon. Most people don’t understand that, underneath the baby eating and decapitated heads, is an artistic expression that wrestles with frustrations with his absent father,  his past, and thoughts about the coming future.

On “She,” Tyler is accompanied by Odd Future member Frank Ocean, and I have to say that it was nice to see Tyler’s softer side. Tyler’s ode to a lost love proves that he is more than just another violent skate punk that some critics like to label him as. It is his version of a love letter that ultimately ends with a screaming dame and transitions to the head knocking “Transylvania.”

The standout for me, though, is “Golden.” The song encompasses almost all the themes of the album including missing his best friend, new found fame and, ultimately, his sanity. It is 5 minutes and 44 seconds of true, vintage Tyler spilling over chilling vocals and a heart pounding beat. “Golden” is one of those songs that you have to play more than once to catch everything contained in the track. In a move that almost mocks his loyal followers, Tyler addresses the issue of Earl, stating, “N***as saying ‘Free Earl’ without even knowin’ him/ See, they’re missing the new album, I’m missing my only friend.”  In the outro, the creepy Dr. TC, with a voice lower than the baritone of Tyler’s, finally subdues Tyler and delivers: “Your friends, they’re just figments of your imagination/Dr. TC, see Tyler, I’m your conscience/I’m Tron Cat, I’m Ace, I’m Wolf Haley, I’m…/Me.” In my opinion, if the album had ended with this, it would have made a greater impact (not that the album doesn’t already deliver a mind f***). So if you’re planning to listen to this song alone, late at night, I advise against it. Just like Tyler, your inner demons may just wrestle you into a straight jacket and throw away the key.

The Internet has been hot on Odd Future’s tail for the better part of two years, with a whirlwind of press surrounding both the group as a whole and the leader of the pack, Tyler the Creator. In a rap climate that has been ridden with overly styled and shallow lyrics, “Goblin” feels like a tornado sweeping through. I had high hopes for the record, anticipating the much expected shock value of his rhymes, as well as bass centered beats any horror movie soundtrack would embrace. What I got were both of those things, but do I think its “greatest of all time” material? Far from it.  What it is though is a breath of fresh air, a new perspective, and a sign of even better things to come from the Creator.

Goblin - Tyler, The Creator