If you’ve circled the hip-hop blogosphere lately, you’re probably familiar with Tyler the Creator already, and nothing written in this space is likely to sway your opinion of his shock and awe stylings. If you’re not the type of person who spends slightly unhealthy amounts of time reading rap blogs, then Tyler probably isn’t for you. Same goes if you’re more than a couple of years post pubescent, or went to your high school prom with an actual girl. Or if you are a girl, for that matter. The ring leader of southern California’s Odd Future crew specializes in a brand of male teen angst unique to type of kids that weren’t on the basketball team or the student government, and reveled in their outsider status, even as they traveled in packs larger than the cool kids.

Goblin, by turns insecure, ingenious, self-indulgent and brutally poignant, undoubtedly captures the feeling and mindset of its Creator and his audience. That doesn’t automatically make the music good, but it doesn’t make it bad either. The buzz generating single “Yonkers” is one of the most noteworthy hip-hop songs of the year as Tyler spews murderous mayhem in a menacing grumble overtop a deceptively nuanced percussion heavy track. His delivery brings to mind an All We Got Iz Us era Sticky Fingaz on Valium, which is every bit as eery as it sounds. “Her,” with its schizophrenic swings between disarming awkwardness and creepy lustfulness is one of the most frank depictions of puppy love in memory. “Radicals” begins as a ribald romp punctuated by a hook so over the top (“Kill people, burn shit, fuck school!”) that it can only be taken as parody. But, the coda near the end of the track’s unnecessary 7 minute run time (“Fuck your traditions, fuck your positions, fuck your religion, fuck your decisions. They’re not mine, you gotta let ‘em go.”), could actually serve as the mission statement of a more focused rebuke of cultural norms or pean to generational shifts.

And that’s the rub. As strident as Tyler proves in asserting what he is not, he seems much less clear on what he is, and as a result, Goblin lacks an identity. Is it a psychological thriller or a slasher film? Or is it one masquerading as the other? For every compelling journey through the id (“Nightmare”), there is a moment of ham fisted hackery. “Transylvania” is a poorly produced bloodfest that relies on vocal effects to make up for oddly generic lyrics. “Bitch Suck Dick” is exactly what the title implies, all the way down to the thin approximation of southern crunk production. Spooky synths keep the laconic posse cut “Windows” interesting for the first couple of minutes, but are simply monotonous for the last six.

Ultimately, listening to Goblin feels a lot like reading a creative writing assignment by the kid in the army boots and trench coat who sits in the corner. There are moments of clarity that show a unique talent, if only he weren’t trying quite so hard to be unique.

-Jeff Harvey


  • Chea!

    Bastard > Goblin

    • yeah, I’d have to agree

    • Jeremy

      I dunno…. It’s close for me. Seven is crazy though.

  • sstretch

    I tried to give dude a chance, but nah ain’t into this type of music. I think its the shock value appeal of it, but hey do what you do, but ain’t for me.

    check out the beats at http://www.soundcloud.com/sstretch68323

  • Francisco

    Why did this review get an 80? The writing doesn’t reflect that score. Personally I believe the album is trash and this is coming from a OF fan, but I’m still puzzled @ why the writer is very critical of turn albums sound and identity but yet it equates to a 4 out of 5 %. OkayP really needs to tone down the high score for every damn album

    • SenB

      i haven’t heard the album but i agree with your comment on the writer’s critique and scoring…

  • Yowzers

    Anyone remember insane poetry? I haven’t been in to shock rap or sci fi rap at all.

  • wc

    there’s def some type of conspiracy in the water with this album cuz if you check most of the critic scores for this album it will be about the same.. pitchfork 8/10, source 4/5 mics, etc etc etc… It’s like it’s getting the 80 solely based off the hype and the fact that Tyler’s “different”… I don’t think it’s trash, but it’s not an 80.. more like a 60 – 65.

  • Jack

    Some tracks are kind of nice, I admit. I think the sound is new, and the beats are raw. But the review is spot on, this kid hasn’t figured out his identity yet. But when he does boy, watch out, shit’s on the verge of a breakthrough. That Yonkers beat still gets me souped.

  • Kidtruth

    Maybe the numbers are so high because even though it is flawed, this is the closest thing to “unique and original” that critics have heard in a long minute.


    • Jeremy

      U want an album that doesn’t have an identity? Listen to jay z’s blueprint 2(not hating, I loved it. The whole two songs. I hope he didn’t pay any more than a banana past its prime for about two thirds of those beats, seriously.). But since when does every album ever made have to be some self centered autobiography about discovering yourself to be considered good? SHiiiiiii. Thats all I got! Make it work!