Tyler, The Creator – Goblin


I expected Tyler’s major label debut to be more accessible and inviting to the masses than his previous outing; a crossover effort featuring a toned down Tyler.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not only is Goblin the natural sequel to Bastard, it surpasses its predecessor in delving further into the twisted psyche of Tyler Haley, exploring his many personas. The album is a compelling extension of the psychiatric session Tyler endures during the length of Bastard, in which he vents to the fictional Doctor TC about his abandonment issues and personal demons. In Goblin, the focus shifts to Tyler’s struggle with fame, expectations, criticism and his new found status as a role model. The inner dialogue is successful in giving the eclectic tracks context.

Vicious misogyny and nihilism are coupled with deep, hypnotizing, lo-fi beats and strung across lengthy tacks, creating an emotionally draining experience, even for the most stable of individuals. The bleak and monolithic nature of Goblin makes it difficult for outsiders to identify with and completely understand his intentions. Tyler’s prose is thoroughly mesmerizing as the album visits the darkest corners of his deranged mind. However, contrary to popular belief, Tyler is not Horrorcore, he’s something entirely different. By looking beyond the extremely graphic content of his music, you can begin to unravel the true nature of his genius.

Goblin is at its best when it focuses on Tyler’s private battles with his inner demons. The opening and closing tracks of the album, Goblin and Golden, are without a doubt the most introspective songs and are dominated by the internal monologues of Tyler and Doctor TC. The Doctor is but one of Tyler’s split personalities, along with the suicidal Ace and deranged Tron Cat and Wolf Haley, whom all maliciously plague his subconscious. These moments on the album are captivating as we witness Tyler struggling to assert himself as the dominant personality inside his own head. The extent of Tyler’s mental instabilities emerges whilst exploring his many personas, amalgamating in a complete emotional breakdown and the subsequent systematic execution of his friends across the final tracks of the album.

When he’s not committing unspeakable acts, Goblin shows us glimpses of the real Tyler and his cloaked vulnerability. A growing maturity is evident in the Frank Ocean collaboration, Her, where Tyler faces rejection at the hands of a girl. Instead of the played out scenario where Tyler rapes and murders said girl, as his fans have come to expect, he instead swallows his pride and moves on with his life. It features a rare moment of honesty from the Odd Future front man, yearning to understand and connect with the females he so often rages against. From this, we view the all too common misogynistic rants from another perspective, born from a hopeless frustration as opposed to unfounded rage. It is in moments like this that we remember Tyler is just a teenage kid, isolated by the very façades he’s invented to express himself.

However, the album stutters when Tyler shifts focus away from himself. A prime example of this is throughout the track Radical, a weak point purely for its lack of thought provoking substance, beyond the monotonous and inane hook “kill people, burn shit, fuck school”. This is understandable to a certain extent, as someone who is still struggling to uncover his true identity would have trouble speaking for anybody but himself. Another minor flaw, which can be painfully obvious at times, is the aforementioned lengthy, hypnotic tracks which begin to grate in a very unnerving way. Whilst this adds to the uncomfortable ambience generated by Tyler, the album would have benefitted greatly from a shorter length, thereby increasing the intensity of the content by actively engaging the viewer for a shorter amount of time.

Whichever way you look at it, it is clear that Tyler has made Goblin for Tyler. It’s a personal joke between himself, Ace, Tron Cat, Wolf Haley and Dr TC and he doesn’t care if you don’t like it or don’t get it. This is by no means a negative, as it ensures we are presented with a pure and relatively untouched final product that is the closest many of us will ever come to discovering exactly what goes on inside the head of this enigmatic artist.

I reiterate: listen to Bastard and listen to Goblin. It’s an experience you are not likely forget anytime soon and an album that people will dissect and discuss for years to come.

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