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Thursday, October 19, 2017
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Tyler, the Creator: 'Goblin' – 4 out of 5 stars

Tags: Music Reviews

Breaking into the mainstream conscious with the music video for “Yonkers,” an explosive performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and a record deal with XL Recordings, Tyler, The Creator has lead his crew Odd Future to gain some serious traction in the past six months.

But with traction comes the price of fame, and Tyler has had some sobering struggles handling his new-found celebrity. He’s been overly simplified and vilified by one side while at the same time hyped, touted and glorified by the other. This diverged dragging of character has taken an understandable toll on Tyler, and these effects show up in full force on his label debut Goblin.

Tyler and Odd Future have been cranking out tapes for years, and Goblin isn’t exactly a deviation from the OF norm. It maintains that home-cooked feel of an OF tape and is still littered with black, disturbia-filled lyrics (see “Tron Cat”). But Goblin strays from the standard when Tyler addresses pretty much every criticism of character that’s been shot his way during the past few months, be that the added stress of producing since Kanye tweeted about Tyler, people calling him a role model, or his dealing with Bill O’Reilly (“Fuck Bill O’Reilly”).

The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Tyler is only freaking 19 years old. Even though he’s achieved a huge amount of success, he still deals with 19-year-old problems like any regular 19-year-old. He’s got self-doubt, daddy issues and girl problems, and it’s reflected in Goblin. Though a lot of his stuff deals with super-murky topics, there’s also another, much more introverted, emotional side to Tyler, which can be incredibly disjointing considering the differing audiences listening to Tyler. When the misogyny-centric track “Tron Cat” goes into the friend-zone-stuck “Her,” there’s a distinct moment of ‘wait, what?’

But in the end, Goblin is just another Odd Future tape with a price tag. It strides with most of OF’s strengths: in-jokes, alter-egos and OF culture (Free Earl, SWAG), and Tyler’s synth-haunting beats have never been tighter, especially with the surprising, Bowie-esque instrumental “AU79.” After more than three years of giving away his work for free, Tyler not only deserves some cash but has also crafted an album that is totally worth it (given that you’ve got the stomach).

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