Underground rap is quite possibly the hardest genre of music for one to listen to. If you appreciate it you’ll like it, if you like it you may not truly appreciate it, and just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it. For me, Tyler The Creator’s “Goblin” was something that I really appreciated but had a hard time enjoying.
On the one hand the lyrics are expertly crafted and amazingly delivered. Tyler is full of rage and enthusiasm that makes every other musical act seem like they don’t try hard enough. It feels like Tyler puts 100% of himself into his rapping and that goes a long way into making the album special. On the other hand, this is not what most uniformed rap listeners would consider rapping.
To explain, most people who think of rap think of pop-rap, rap music that has a beat, a chorus, and easy to follow lyrics. Tyler’s “Goblin” is none of that and he comes right out to tell you so in the amazing intro with the same title of the album. Tyler bursts in saying that his music isn’t “meant” for certain people because they can’t appreciate it they way it should be appreciated, and he’s right.
“Goblin” plays out in a very theatrical way, telling the story of Tyler as he speaks to his “therapist”. Throughout the album they discuss Tyler’s alter-egos and the feelings that Tyler tries to talk about while never being taken seriously. The album hits on many topics that will make many people feel uncomfortable, but that’s the point. School shootings, drugs, rape, and many other taboo subjects all come to the top with Tyler’s ranting.
Songs like “Radicals” go absolutely insane with talking about the most cringe-inducing topics in such a brute-force way. Other songs like “She” and “Her” take it slow but still shy away from anything that sounds like popular music, often times there is no chorus and no musical flow like most pop-music. Then of course you have “Yonkers”. If you haven’t heard “Yonkers” or seen the much talked about music video I suggest you check it out at the bottom of this post, it’s unreal.
Not much more can be said about “Goblin” as I certainly don’t have the experience with rap music to make any sort of judgement call on the album. I’d say that it is by and large the most unique album I’ve ever listened to and while it wasn’t the most listenable album it’s still something worth checking out if you’re into rap, weird music, or just curious about what’s out there.
Standout track- “Yonkers”- It’s quite simply the most unique song I’ve heard in a long time, and the best part is it doesn’t aim to be unique. “Yonkers” is basic and follows a great less is more philosophy that caused such a great stir when it came out.
Listen to it if- You want to see what underground rap is all about, or if you’re curious just how far one man can take it.
Don’t listen to it if- Your grandma is anywhere near you while you’re listening to it, you’ll feel so guilty.
Overall opinion- “Goblin” is unique, extraordinary, strange, hurtful, artistic, shocking, and overall it’s just different.