Artist: Tyler, the Creator
Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator sprawls across an exhumed chaise longue, sounding out frustrations to a low-pitched alter ego whose form gives the album its name: Goblin. That a rapper so minimalist, who peels the stringy muck from his textures until they’re exposed bone, catches fanfare in a world of brightly lit maximalists is either antics or the changing of the guard.
Goblin’s title track starts the album with Tyler and his deep voiced foil trading spoken-rap on the most low-key of anxious piano lines. By finale “Golden”, the foil has diagnosed that Tyler obviously has “some fucking problems” and is roused by Tyler’s tantrum to call security and shut down the fatal-sounding romp. Uniformly, the album in between bites with sub-seven pH tracks like “Sandwitches”, notable for unpolished synths and bicycle-kick abandon.
But even Goblin’s less caustic cuts get the muted treatment. Odd Future fellow Hodgy Beats and Tyler the Creator promenade through sort-of romantic “Analog”, Tyler’s siren-suped analogy for hip hop’s sweetened slow-burns. Tracks like “Analog”, “She”, and “Fish” refreshingly prevent Goblin from being the monolithic firestorm Tyler’s persona is. But then, those songs aren’t cause for psychological evaluation.
Most tracks emulate but don’t fully reciprocate the nihilistic dawdle of “Yonkers”. And few can be sparse and still match its turn-based instrumentation. There is a point where the lyric-free, electronic “AU79” has more warranted inclusion than lazy “Bitch Suck Dick” or the placid yawn of group therapy on “Window”.
Right now, Goblin is important work in hip-hop. It’s not as in your face as the actions of the posse behind it, which might actually explain the actions of the posse behind it. And though Goblin’s therapist dynamic offers more political quips than it does insight into its Creator, its skit element provides humor and arc for fifteen tracks. Goblin’s black humor wit draws gap-toothed shadows under fluorescent lamps, and while hip hop is pretty catty as it is, there aren’t many willing to get this macabre.
Grade: B+ (89)