By definition, a goblin is an ugly, evil creature of legend; a lowly monster of sin and filth, and represents the anti-culture of the teller. Even though these creatures are fabrications, not to be taken literally, their place in stories is telling of something. They are the scapegoats, the downtrodden, and the easy fix. Tyler, the Creator, the ringleader or the recently successful cult hip-hop group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) adopts the identity of the easy fix and uses it to say something worthwhile. This is the goblin’s side of the story.
Before we even begin, Tyler, the Creator (real name: Tyler Okonma) introduces the album with a 6 minute disclaimer regarding the following lyrics which contain moments of misogyny, graphic imagery, and excessive use of the word “faggot.” It is true that this album is not for the faint of heart or the easily (or perhaps reasonably) offended.
I won’t waste the space here apologizing for the unsavory nature of this album. You have been warned.
Goblin is self-indulgent, arrogant, narcissistic, uncomfortable, disturbing, and completely fitting. This album is shocking, but it makes perfect sense considering that the age range for the members of OFWGKTA is 17 – 24 years old. The album cover is a picture of Buffalo Bill when he was 19 years of age, and offers insight into the sensibilities of Goblin – it is a snapshot of youth; stylized, exaggerated, but nonetheless a captured moment of raw youth. It is a call to arms to defend the purity and honesty of young people; no less compelling than when David Bowie said,
“And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through.”
In fact, this album is the realization of the point that “Changes” offers.
"She" is a microcosm of what makes Odd Future the most hypnotizing hip-hop group since Wu-Tang to reach the spotlight: frightening, shameless, and ballsy.
Tyler pulls the rug out from underneath certain music magazines and famous rappers that are largely responsible for much of the exposure Odd Future has received, politely offering to “stab any blogging faggot hipster with a Pitchfork” in the third verse of the virally popular “Yonkers,” a clear stand out track on this record. There is a not-so-subtle sense of dissatisfaction with the state of things, particularly within black culture. Tyler has taken it upon himself to shout “fuck Steve Harvey” in many of his tracks. No explanation is given for this, and one is not needed.
Steve Harvey has publically alienated the dark side of the human nature, and Tyler, the Creator has embraced it with Goblin, which speaks to the shadow side of our desires that lies in wait. He pacifies the inner darkness. He affirms the awfulness that we are capable of without condoning it. Our fears are brought to light simply for the sake of it, with no obvious means to an end. What we do them is up to us, I suppose.
Tyler narrates over a good portion of the lyrics throughout the album with a voice altering effect that often plays devil’s advocate or the anti-thesis of what is being said in the primary lyrics. This becomes most evident on the last track “Golden,” and the end result is a nicely rounded album whose main theme seems to be alternate personalities and the comfort, freedom, and therapy that comes with them. Tyler the Creator, knowingly or not, has crafted an album that is as clear as day in its meaning and intent. Its lack of tact only speaks more to its sensibilities of the youth and how unclouded it can seem, even in the disturbing and controversial moments. The confidence in Tyler’s graveled voice is the only justification that is needed, and is the only part of this album that should be trusted. The recent success of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All seems to have perplexed music critics to no end, but Goblin spells out the reasons plainly. Most people like OFWGKTA for the same reason there was a time in their life when they liked Walt Whitman. Because we each “contain multitudes.”
8.9 / 10
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