So recently I wrote a review on Earl Sweatshirt’s debut Doris, praising it for showing off the potential the Odd Future member had and for solidifying his career in the genre. The person we have to thank, other than Earl himself, for that record even being possible is Tyler The Creator, the leader of the Odd Future collective who found him on Myspace under the identity of Sly Tendencies. So how does Tyler’s 2011 album debut following his critically praised debut mixtape Bastard match up? Surprisingly well in fact.
Now before listening to Goblin or any Odd Future release for that matter, you need to go in expecting the trademark gags and grotesque raps that the collective are now well regarded for (though recent albums from members of OF have been more mature in comparison). The production value on this album is top notch with the little touches really adding up to a polished album that has beats just oozing with charisma. Opening track Goblin shows off this with Tyler rapping about criticisms that he’s a bad influence and exaggerated claims that he’s a Satan worshipper over light machine gun rattles. As well as showing off the impressive production value, this track also features Tyler talking to his therapist about his problems which is a running theme on Wolf, Bastard & Goblin which when listened to in that order tells the fictional story of Tyler and gives the albums a lot of replay value and shows that Tyler isn’t the stupid, emotionless 22 year old that the majority of the media have him pigeon-holed as. What follows is the fan favourite Yonkers which features a memorable beat with Tyler having a conversation with his alter ego Wolf Haley in which the two contradict each other which shows the wild side of Tyler that we’re used to seeing but also the emotional Tyler that is shown on Goblin. Radicals is a tongue in cheek track with a chorus of voices shouting “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School” over an aggressive, blaring beat with a follow up of calm sounds with Tyler speaking to the listener, making the album feel more atmospheric for it. Frank Ocean also features on this album on the track She which is a romantic tale of Tyler’s sappy, passive aggressive obsession with a girl with Ocean’s sublime voice providing the chorus and really shows off the talent of the 25 year old. Tron Cat is another eerie sounding track which also features rapping about Tyler’s other alter ego Tron Cat and disses about Chris Brown.
Unlike most rap albums which feature tracks that feel like they’d be better on a B-side or not on a record at all, every track on this album is necessary for explaining the story of a fictional Tyler which I have to refrain on spoiling but has already produced a number of theories on a rumoured EarlWolf album. The cameos on this album are the usual odd future member appearances but are thankfully impressive and do not feel lacklustre in the slightest. Window is a great example of this showing an emotionally unstable Tyler having an intervention with Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Hodgy Beats and Mike G who each tell what is important in their lives and adds to the running story on this record. Any fan of the rap scene should give this album a listen to as there is a track that you’re bound to like for numerous reasons and really shows that even though Tyler might be seen as a controversial, attention seeking man-child of sorts, he definitely has the talent to make his mark on the music industry.