Vulnerability. It resides in all of our lives and in different forms. Some of us have a high level of vulnerability, while for others, it takes a lot to provoke it. For Tyler Okonma, his vulnerability is expressed throughout his second album, Goblin. He might seem like your typical happy-go-lucky, rebellious 20-year-old, but beyond the explicit tweets and humorous interviews, there’s a young kid that misses how simple life used to be.
In the album’s opening song, “Goblin”, Tyler, The Creator’s therapy session with Dr. TC continues from Bastard – right off the last track “Inglorious”. Tyler vents about high expectations, his critics that try to bring him down, the lack of attention his fellow Odd Future members get, as well as other subjects. He admits he’s too scared to tell his friends how he actually feels about things, because it would diminish the tough guy persona that he portrays through his subject matter.
“Her” shows a side of Tyler that is rarely, if ever seen in public. In a heart-felt confession to a girl named Raquel, Tyler admits that he wants to establish a relationship with her and do all the cheesy things that girls like in them. When she ends up getting back together with the ex-boyfriend that Tyler hates, Tyler wants to express his anger over a text but he would end up smiling just because they’d be conversing again.
However, Tyler’s biggest showing of his vulnerability is in the album’s closing track, “Golden”. In the first verse alone, he addresses the lack of time he sees his mother, when this rapping thing was just for fun, how his friends are treating him differently and that they’re more like his assistants now, and how he misses Earl Sweatshirt while his fans are moreso just missing new music from the young rapper.
Goblin might be one of the darkest albums I’ve heard in a while. The hit single “Yonkers” takes a haunting beat and complements it with contradictory lyrics that are based off the first line of the song. The video is equally brilliant and although it might not be creepy to me as an avid Odd Future listener, I guarantee that if you show the music video to a unbeknownst friend, they’ll be creeped out.
The Left Brain-produced “Transylvania” has Tyler playing the role as Dracula, as he uses a vocal effect to make his extreme lyrics to make the song even more haunting. “Nightmare” is a message to his mother that the newfound fame is taking her son over, but he also takes the time to angrily lash out at Earl’s parents, calling them failures for sending their son away.
Even the album’s most mainstream ready song, “She”, is haunting. Frank Ocean is attacked by Tyler during his sex session with the new girl down the block, who turns out to be Tyler’s ex-girlfriend. Despite the subject matter, Frank delievers a beautiful hook about Tyler being a possessive, stalking ex-boyfriend, then Tyler cuts down on the shock lyrics (for the most part) after threatening to kill her if him and the girl don’t hang out tonight. It’s the perfect love song for the theme and vibe of Goblin.
But despite my earlier statement of how dark this album is, there are a few songs that don’t exactly fit from that standpoint. “Analog” is also a song ready for the mainstream, taking the vocal effects similar to the ones in “Transylvania” and instead of continuing that vibe, both Tyler and Hodgy Beats create a “summer love” song that surprisingly is very good.
“Bitch Suck Dick” is the given joke track – see “Tina” on Bastard – with Jasper Dolphin and Taco. Think Waka Flocka Flame meets Odd Future when you’re listening to it. The song itself is horrible (as expected), but it’s fun to listen to when you’re in a good mood. “Fish” isn’t very dark either but it’s also very forgettable.
But some of the darkest moments on the album happen right at the end of “Bitch Suck Dick” and the posse track, “Window”. [SPOILER ALERT] In each of these, Tyler breaks down and shoots his friends, killing Jasper and Taco in their assisted song, then killing the rest after his verse in the latter. Hodgy isn’t in my top three favorite members of OFWGKTA, but his “death” hit me the hardest because of the emotion he showed after “dying”. It actually felt kind of real. [END SPOILER ALERT]
The influences of two albums released throughout the past few years are throughoutGoblin. For instance, the instrumental changes and outros on songs like “Goblin”, “Radicals” and “Tron Cat” are a direct influence of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of last year. Lyrics similar to those in Eminem’s 2009 release Relapse are found throughout tracks like “Transylvania”, while Tyler’s conscience rapping along with him in “Golden” is a lot like the bonus track “My Darling”.
I can see the reasons why someone wouldn’t like this however. Even though I noted the Kanye influence in songs like “Radicals”, the change of chords aren’t as interesting as they could be. The beats to “Her” and “Window” are too simplistic for even Tyler’s standards and would bore most listeners. The explicit lyrics could wear thin after a while, especially on an album that just under 80 minutes long. If this album was cut down to a 40-50 minute version, then I could see a lot more people liking this.
As a whole, I feel this is a more focused effort from both a lyrical and production standpoint. Bastard‘s highlights aren’t superior in quality and quanitity to Goblin‘s, while the middle-of-the-road tracks are better on the latest album as well. There’s obviously room to grow for Tyler, The Creator as both an MC and a producer, but if the album concepts follow through into his already planned third album, Wolf, then in 2012 we might have an legitimate Album of the Year candidate by everyone’s favorite (or most hated) loud-mouthed, rebellious artist.
1.) Goblin | 4 – 4.75
2.) Yonkers | 5
3.) Radicals | 4 – 4.5
4.) She (ft. Frank Ocean) | 5
5.) Transylvania | 3.25 – 4
6.) Nightmare | 3.5 – 4
7.) Tron Cat | 4 – 4.25
8.) Her | 4
9.) Sandwitches (ft. Hodgy Beats) | 4.75 – 5
10.) Fish | 2.5 – 3
11.) Analog (ft. Hodgy Beats) | 4.5 – 5
12.) Bitch Suck Dick (ft. Jasper Dolphin & Taco) | 2.25 – 3
13.) Window (ft. Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats & Mike G) | 3 – 3.75
14.) AU79 | 3 – 3.5
15.) Golden | 5