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Posted on May 17th, 2011 (12:00 pm) by Joseph Weathered

Stardom in the year 2011 has become completely fractured in an awesome and intriguing way. Take Tyler the Creator and his crew, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All for example. Starting from a Tumblr account around 2009, OFWGKTA released mp3's for free, constantly put out intriguing art and sort of did what everyone does now - release what you want, no filters and see what happens. They were underground, building a buzz, and a lot of people started complementing and loving them.

Then, all of a sudden everyone (and no one at the same time; that is how it is now) finds out about the group. Tyler and co. get more and more hits and mentions for their sites, they play Jimmy Fallon's show, they go to Coachella riding a huge wave of "that's the group I want to check out" buzz, leading to the culmination, which is Goblin, the album I am here to write about. Since all of this seemingly happened within a span of three days, there is a lot we know and a lot we don't know about these kids, so let's try and sift through the information we have.

Tyler the Creator (aged 19 years, real name - Tyler Okonma) has been called the mouth piece and leader of OFWGKTA, a group of rappers and producers. Goblin is the first major label release, the first release that is under the microscope of media and hype, the release that, due to the hype, is what everyone is now staring at. Along with his 2009 release Bastard, Goblin has a narrative running through it of Tyler speaking to his fictional therapist, played by Tyler himself. The beats and production range from sparse, to lush, with some of the songs sounding like the group set the keyboard to the preset beats and others having a production style that hasn't yet been co-opted by a ton of rappers. One of the standout tracks, "Sandwiches" is the best example of the latter, as it manages to be both incredibly simplistic in production yet insanely creative in execution.

Lyrically the entire album is well written, outrageous, shocking blunt, futuristic, progressive and beautiful at times. Citing the fact that Tyler is 19, the album ranges almost schizophrenically from him dealing with sudden fame: "I ain't even killed myself yet, and I already want my life back", to his estranged father: "Competition missing like that nigger my mom fucked/He still hasn't called me yet…but that's a whole fucking different argument", to just shock for shock's sake (lots of over the top debauchery, misogyny, bigotry - one of the songs is called "Bitch Suck Dick"). You have to stick with it though, and listen deep beyond the tourette's compulsion to say dirty things, because one of Tyler's strengths is the fact that when he shelves the shock and becomes extremely honest, his delivery is so skilled that it comes as quite different than that of previous underground rappers who became famous rapping about their dysfunctional home life (Marshall Mathers, anyone?).

"Yonkers" is the standout track here, just simply because it's the most worldwide ready track on the album and the video is being seen by a lot of people. Repetitive keyboards and menacing bass drops highlight Tyler's lower-than-he-looks voice and flow. We have already heard the song over and over, but when this gets really popular (meaning that when the people who don't go looking for their music hear this), you're going to get very very sick of it while still remembering just how great it was the first time you heard it.

What makes parts of Goblin fascinating is the idea that Tyler is attempting to traverse between being a bluntly honest talented rapper and a young kid ranting and saying wild shit. "Radicals" goes firmly into the latter with its chorus "kill people burn shit fuck school", but he actually puts up a mocking disclaimer imploring the listener not to do what he says on the track. The 1999 Columbine disaster gets a mention in the album once or twice as well, which is intriguing; do musicians now take into context that some of the listeners are dumb, impressionable kids or has everything fallen into irony and being meta?

Goblin is going to be an interesting album to follow as more people hear it for the first time. It feels like hip hop that was made by a bunch of guys who drew from a lot of genre's outside of hip hop (you could call a lot of the production an updated, almost better version of what the Neptunes did when they first came out) while still remaining true to the source of hip hop. Everyone on the album is very skilled at writing and performing, so the talent is there, but what happens when the other factors are taken into account? The album is seminal and a leap in direction for the genre, but does the hype/backlash kill it? Does the content, involving a lot of violence and demented malaise distract people from what is at times a brutally honest self reflection of a young group of guys making music and getting big? Does hip hop as a whole embrace it as great, grass roots hip hop, or do they reject it because of the idea that more white kid indie rock hipsters dig it over the usual hardcore hip hop audience?

Goblin is extremely polarizing, which is what makes it so vital to the musical public. Odd Future could either be a one-album fad that people get bored with, or they could be the next organic, talented group of rappers that Wu Tang was in '92/93. No one will ever predict this correctly, and that's why the album and the group are so interesting. They have all of the necessary drive, talent and uniqueness to succeed, but they can also get lost in the idea of what outsiders put onto it. Regardless of all the questions, though, Goblin is an extreme success for the body of work previously put out, and the best representation of what OFWGKTA do, and could potentially do in the future.

Track List

1. Goblin
2. Yonkers
3. Radicals
4. She (featuring Frank Ocean)
5. Transylvania
6. Nightmare
7. Tron Cat
8. Her
9. Sandwitches
10. Fish / Boppin' Bitch
11. Analog (featuring Hodgy Beats)
12. Bitch Suck Dick (featuring Jasper Dolphin & Taco)
13. Window (featuring Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats & Mike G)
14. AU79 (instrumental)
15. Golden

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

73 / 100
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