We witnessed the strength of street knowledge with N.W.A. in the eighties, entered the 36 chambers with the Wu-Tang Clan in the mid-nineties, and realized Eminem just didn’t give a fuck as he helped usher in the new millennium. Each of these acts had their fare share of controversy, all sharing that “middle finger up, mainstream conformity down” attitude that is shared by just about every male teenager in some point in their lives. And in each case, these acts not only earned the respect of the hardcore hip-hop audience, but also were responsible for turning the average angst ridden kids of their respective generations to hardcore hip-hop heads. In short, the music spoke to us.
Odd Future is the latest group to come along with a similar attitude, naturally stirring up a cult-like following. It’s been over a decade since we’ve seen a hip-hop artist come out with an attitude that defies the industry standards, creating an equally huge buzz in the process.
Goblin is the second LP from the group’s frontman, Tyler The Creator, following his 2010 debut, Bastard, which as named as one of Pitchfork’s top albums of the year. Following a high profile performance with The Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and a super-buzzworthy video for “Yonkers” that same week, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All had arrived.
For longtime heads, Goblin will not shock or excite them, as we’ve heard it all before. Tyler’s album-extended sketch of talking with a deeper voiced, therapeutic version of himself was done 15 years ago with Dr. Trevis on Redman’s Dare Is A Darkside. The same can be said for Tyler’s Eminem-esque “I’m not a role model so don’t do anything I say on this album” P.S.A.’s or predictions that his music will incite another Columbine-type incident. Let’s face it: we’re old, and we’ve been there, done that.
But for a generation that’s been force fed artists like Chingy, J-Kwon, and Cassidy all of their lives, this will seem revolutionary. In that respect, we have to give it a fair shake (heh), and assume that we’re 16 years old again, listening to Onyx in the whip.
Tyler does have some great moments on Goblin. While he does rely on using “fuck” just a little too much in his lyrics, his flow can be insane at times, as can the production. The lead single is testament to this, as are tracks like “Tron Cat” and “Nightmare”, which find him exercising a breathless, morbid flow, speaking with a careless, laissez faire attitude.
Meanwhile, his obsession with women manifests itself in several different ways, as tracks like “She” and “Her” find him coming slightly down to earth, almost showing a sympathetic side to the opposite sex; that is, just before reverting back to typical rap misogyny on songs like “Boppin’ Bitch” and “Bitch Suck Dick”.
Tyler’s production, however, is really what separates OFWGKTA from any other foul-mouthed rappers. It’s clear that Tyler truly has an ear for music, as his sound is all his own, evoking the same independent spirit found in the early millennial 12″ hip-hop vinyl movement. It’s clear the 19-year old producer is using the most basic of Casio keyboards to produce these beats, suggesting that he could really murder it on the production tip, if given the right tools.
Tyler The Creator, and Odd Future as a whole, do have the potential for greatness, something that is only touched upon with the Goblin LP. There clearly is talent here, but Goblin is only a small piece of what ultimately may be a much bigger picture.
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