(XL, May 5th)
Tyler Okonma, (a.k.a. Tyler, the Creator) has just dropped the most hyped album of the year in Goblin. The leader, producer and all around controversy machine behind the California skate rap crew OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) is a cartoonish anti-everything-and-everybody figurehead. Odd Future are uniting the abused, lonely, depressed and scary people only previously banded together by terrible bands such as Insane Clown Posse. To many, the misanthropic, misogynistic, homophobic content of Okonma’s works is reprehensible and should be condemned. Ahead of OF’s first Australian shows later this year, is any of this hype warranted?
Firstly, it’s not horrorcore as some of the perennial ‘haters’ claim. Throughout the album, there are numerous things that shock people with even loose moral standards. ‘Radicals’ hook of “Kill people, Fuck shit, Burn school” and the defining line of ‘Tron Cat’, “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome” seem as though they are intended to shock and enrage the parents of middle white America. They’re not. They merely invoke a counter-culture of the abused and the lonely that the family of the juggalos unite under. It’s no different to the punk and grunge countercultures that were invoked in the 60’s and the 70’s.
Maybe that’s a little hard to buy. Just accept that in Okonma’s mind he lives in a world of hypercolour and violence not dissimilar to A Clockwork Orange. Goblin does have one separating factor between ICP and OFWGKTA. Unlike ICP, there is a sense of humour and talent here.
Goblin is the finest garage punk rap you’ll hear all year. The title track opens the as another of Tyler’s bile-purging therapy sessions with one of his characters (Dr. TC). He vents his frustrations in an almost human way about hype, his self-loathing, his disgust for his dead-beat dad and his suicidal impulses. Throughout the album, these therapy sessions with Dr. TC (‘Goblin’, ‘Nightmare’, ‘Golden’, the latter of which is the best track on the album) serve to not only humanise Okonma from the devil he makes himself out to be (‘The Devil doesn’t wear Prada, I’m clearly in a fucking white tee) and make for some of the most engaging lyricism in a long time. ‘She’ (album highlight, because Frank Ocean is the best member of OFWGKTA) and ‘Her’ also level Tyler as human, because of his typical male anxiety around the opposite gender serve as the counterbalance for tracks such as ‘Tron Cat’, an exploration of one of the schizophrenic voices in his head.
Occasionally, when he can be bothered, Tyler will write a single. The massive singles, ‘Yonkers’ (Listen to B.O.B.’s laughable counter to his diss in this track) and ‘Sandwitches’ (Of which the performance on Jimmy Fallon has already gone viral), demonstrate Okonma’s ability to write anthems to unite the rejects. ‘Radicals’ aforementioned refrain echoes the quintessential hook from 19 years ago, ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me’ whilst providing a similar anti-establishment anthem.
The album’s far from the grammy winning album Okonma believes it to be though. ‘Her’ is boring; same applies for ‘Window’ and ‘Analog’. ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ is too clever for it’s own good, intended to come across as a parody of Waka Flocka Flame, it actually comes across as a terribly clichéd, overly postured track. ‘Transylvania’ is meh, ‘Fish’ doesn’t get good until 3:55. Most of these ideas can traced down to the fact Tyler produces most of the OFWGKTA output himself, and whilst this shows his precocious talents, no-one has the balls to tell him his some of his ideas are bad.
Overall, Tyler’s eponymous label debut sets out a bright future for Odd Future. His production skills are raw, but show incredible promise. Lyrically, anything to shake up the stagnant swamp of generic lyricism hip hop has become should be welcomed with open arms. With Earl set to be of legal age soon, OF are looking good. Watch out White America, the future is wolf.