posted on May.09, 2011
Tyler, the Creator
Release Number: 2nd
Hailing From: Los Angeles
When I first listened to Goblin, I immediately reacted by starting to write a largely negative review, spurred on by my disappointment in the album. Normally, I allow myself a few listens until I come up with a justifiable opinion but I was convinced that I understood this album right away, and that it wasn’t what I was looking for.
After listening a few times, I still agree with my earlier criticism but I can see what Tyler was going for when making this album. What I hear when I listen to Tyler, and much of the Odd Future gang, is potential. There’s no denying that everyone in Odd Future has talent but it’s obvious they are still finding themselves and growing as musicians. Tyler has become the leading man of Odd Future and there’s a reason for that. He’s arguably the best rapper they have (with the absence of Earl, anyway). He also knows how to explore different styles of music and his songs incorporates influences from almost every genre of music.
Bastard, Tyler’s previous effort, was an interesting and largely successful experiment. While there were some less than stellar tracks and a little debut album awkwardness, the album flowed and gave a showcase for Tyler’s tremendous talent. Goblin continues this trend, though I don’t think there is enough progression to call this a departure from Bastard. It may have been my expectations coming into the album, but I expected something quite different from his previous releases and a lot of Goblin seems to repeat many of the themes and arrangements of Bastard. This isn’t a bad thing, but somewhat of a disappointment.
There are some problems with Goblin which detract from its overall quality. The album is definitely too long. Tyler’s style of production and rapping does not lend itself to a traditional verse-chorus set-up, which is admirable, but over an hour of slow and staggered beats can be monotonous. Tracks on which the typical beats are abandoned for a more up-tempo instrumentation are some of the best tracks on the album. “Transylvania” and “Sandwitches” stand out as tracks that adhere to Tyler’s normal formula but also are catchier and more distinct from other tracks on the album. There are also tracks that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor, such as “Fish / Boppin Bitch” and “Au79”.
These problems, which originally almost ruined the album for me, seem like to be not that big of a deal after repeated listens. Tyler’s raps are better than ever and the constant narrative between him and his therapist makes the album feel more substantial. The album is a session between the two of them, and this explains the drawn out nature of many of the tracks. It feels as though, just like therapy, it sometimes takes time for things to reach a conclusion.
Tyler is definitely still figuring out what kind of artist he wants to be and this is not the classic album I was expecting. It is, however, a good stepping stone towards greatness. Tracks such as “Tron Cat”, “Window”, and “Yonkers” show that Tyler has the potential to create some extremely powerful music. There is no doubt in my mind that Tyler will put out a classic album eventually but Goblin is not it. Goblin will have a place in my personal rotation for a while, and may even make my top albums of the year if it continues to grow on me, but I’m more eager to see what will come after this. Since Wolf, Tyler’s third album, is already set to be released in 2012, it will not be long until we hopefully see Tyler’s potential fully realized.
– James Rettig