Album of the Month: “Goblin” by Tyler, The Creator
I have a bad habit of missing rising stars. Perhaps I’m just looking in the wrong places or read the wrong magazines but I don’t seem to be able to spot an upcoming act.The rise of the surreal and controversial rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or simply OFWGKTA) and their equally outrageous front man Tyler, The Creator, completely passed me by. It was not till recently that I was introduced to the explicit and obscene lyrics of Tyler, The Creator’s album Goblin. In it found I a great deal of disturbing content, enough to send more conservative listeners into a shock induced coma, but also a refreshing new face of hip-hop that valued self expression over the commercialism that has become worryingly common among contemporary “rap” artists.
I can hardly call myself a connoisseur of rap and hip hop, I have only ever religiously listened to De La Soul‘s 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising. Despite the stark contrast of content between Tyler and De La Soul Goblin is a welcome return to the traditional hip-hop group. However gone are the clean lyrics and the D.A.I.S.Y age, replaced instead with the violent and unconventional style of Tyler, The Creator and Odd Future. Looking past the ever so frequent swears and disturbing lyrics, is a message of self expression not bound social conventions and what is deemed “proper”. If there was “line” marking what was appropriate to rap about Goblin is the equivalent of someone using that “line” as toilet paper. But it’s this total disregard for that “line” that makes Goblin such a great album.
As the album progresses it gets more extreme. Take Radicals for instance. Despite its “random disclaimer” emphasising that what Tyler is rapping about it “total fiction“, the track is aggressive and in-your-face. However, the chorus of ” Kill people, burn s**t, f***k school” is reminiscent of the punk movement all those years ago. The album’s dissatisfaction with the state of society is exciting, in the same way punk rock acts like Anti-Flag criticise issues such as war. This is the antithesis to the copious raps about fast cars, designers and money. Granted, She, the fourth track on Goblin, focuses on that oh so common theme of rap- the lady- but it introduces the bizarre and experimental Odd Future vibe to it, breathing new life into a painfully cliché topic.
It would take many hours to do this album justice. Although I have only discussed three songs in particular this does not mean they are the only tracks that are worthy of discussion. The far-out Transylvania, the disturbing but punchy Tron Cat and the anthemic Sandwitches, featuring fellow OFWGKTA member Hodgy Beats, are all tracks that reflect that the extraordinary and wild universe of Tyler, the Creator and the Odd Future collective. Prepare to be offended, prepare to be disturbed but also be ready to accept it for more than the obscenities or even the music but rather the social commentary and insight that it actually is. As Tyler puts it in the final line of Sanwitches “listen deeper than the music before you put it in a box”.
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