Tyler, the Creator is like the Quentin Tarantino of alternative hip hop; he addresses issues that will make you squirm, sometimes allowing a small opening for comic relief, before sending you back into a world of darkness that may leave you cynical and helpless. His words are not for the weak; he takes time throughout his latest album, Goblin, to explain he’s young, that this is fiction and that anyone who takes it seriously should be dismissed, ridiculed or murdered. This is the complex world of Tyler, the Creator; a world where his dark, unapologetic delivery may lead you to succumb to its bidding, testing your strength, in hopes that through all of the darkness, you will find the creative beauty at the end of the tunnel.
Goblin continues where Tyler’s first album, Bastard, left off. Dr. TC, Tyler’s fictional therapist, attempts to help Tyler battle against his Johnny Rotten-esque alter-ego, Wolf Haley. It is obvious that Tyler is heavily influenced by the Neptunes; piano-driven chord progressions, Tyler gives a head-nod to Pharrell, but still adds the minimal, spacey swooshes that will make you cringe. “Goblin” is an example of this; combine this with self-reflective lyrics and you get a great track that introduces you to Tyler.
“Yonkers,” the first single off of the album, shines on its own; you will be listening to this track over and over again, trying to catch Tyler’s creative wordplay as he battles against Wolf Haley. “I’m a f****n’ walkin’ paradox (no I’m not), threesomes with an f****n’ triceratops,” begins Tyler on “Yonkers.” In a matter of two minutes Tyler manages to offend religious followers, Hayley William fans, and threatens to “stab Bruno Mars in his esophagus.” If you’re still listening you’ve made it through two-fifteenths of the album. But be forewarned; it gets darker.
“Radical” is a combination of the skateboard culture Tyler was raised in, along with Seeing Sounds-esque synths and drums. The bridge parts sound like they could easily be replicated in a Neptune’s track. It is a melodic remedy that contrasts against the overall griminess of the song. Obviously a track that stands out more live because of its heaviness, “Radical” is still a well-produced track.
“Nightmare” is a fitting title for this song; bubbly percussive hits, eerie sounds hidden in the background and piano progressions that move like a well-structured jazz tune, “Nightmare” is hauntingly beautiful. “Tron Cat” is similar to “Yonkers;” it stands out more so than the others, showing Tyler’s abilities to just deliver and deliver. “Said f**k coke, so now I’m snortin’ Hitler’s ashes,” says Tyler,among other things that will leave you wondering, “did he just say that,” as you hit the repeat button.
“Sandwitches” almost goes as hard as “Radical.” Hard snare hits, heavy, staccato synths and a massive delivery from Tyler and guest Hodgy Beats, makes this one infectious. “Analog” should be a nominee for 2011 hip hop love song, but the reverberated percussive hits, eerie laughing in the background (maybe from Outkast’s “She Lives in my Lap?”) and deep vocals, may not be the best song to arouse your significant other. “This is not Dawson’s Creek/ Could you meet me by the lake,” says Tyler. Strangely, it is one of the more happier sounding tracks on the album, but it still retains some darkness, as if it belongs in a Friday the 13th movie.
“Window” brings the album back to the darkness; Tyler’s battle with Wolf Haley deepens, as “friends” Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats and Mike G contribute, before inevitably being ended by Tyler. “My window is a book, and I’m a f****n’ crook,” rhymes Tyler, as he dives deeper into the abyss. Melancholic piano notes floating above heavy synths, “Window” is dark. No comic relief, no references that will produce any smiles, “Window” prepares you for the last part of the album: golden.
“Golden” is like the ending scene to a really good movie; it pieces the last remaining puzzle pieces together. Out of a mixture of choral sounds, hard-hitting snare hits and arguments between Dr. TC, the ultimate epiphany is realized by Tyler: that Tyler is Dr. TC. In Fight Club-esque fashion, Tyler ends “Golden” by revealing to us just how chaotic and perplexing his mind is.
“We don’t make horrorcore you f****n’ idiots. Listen deeper in the music before you put it in a box,” says Tyler. To simply label Tyler’s music as horrorcore, would be a foolish thing to do. His music is much deeper than that. He hits a sensitive area that has not been addressed since Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. Not to mention, Goblin is well-crafted; it is a concept album that sends the listener in every direction it can, and if you cannot stomach it, walk away. Tyler does want to be mainstream, and maybe it would be good to get some mainstream sound that cannot be easily digested. Tyler cannot be stopped, and any opposition that plans to bring him down better be ready, because it will not be easy.
Hate him or love him, Tyler, the Creator is making a name for himself. Kanye West called the “Yonkers” music video the best of 2011; Tyler has performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and he also performed at this year’s SXSW, held in Austin, TX. Tyler, the Creator is not your average hip hop; his shows are chaotic and reckless, bringing the roots of hardcore punk into his live shows with stage diving, energy and in-your-face vocal delivery. Goblin is a great album for both newcomers and dedicated fans alike. The album obviously has some lesser tracks; “Bitch Suck Dick” could have probably been left off, but the album, overall, is frighteningly good.
A good artist will sometimes push your buttons to see just how much you can handle. They will force you to take in every word and note from beginning to end, until you have had enough. They will not hold your hand, but rather watch over you, hoping that in the end you will see the masterpiece through their chaos. Tyler is that kind of artist, and it may take a few listens to realize that, but once the epiphany occurs, you will be hooked.