Goblin

by Tyler, the Creator

Released May 10, 2011 via XL Recordings

Reviewed May 12, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Yonkers (81%), She (78%), Tron Cat (24%)

Goblin isn’t the start of Tyler, the Creator’s artistic journey, but for many it was the formal introduction to Odd Future’s de facto leader. Declared Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards just a few months after its release, the newfound fame spurred a new movement in alternative hip-hop that would unquestionably be led by Odd Future. A thoroughly defiant attitude and horrorcore-inspired subject matter meshed with dark, gritty, and bass-heavy production—somewhat reminiscent of the work of RZA—mark the majority of Tyler, the Creator’s debut studio album. Continuing the format of Bastard, Goblin sees Tyler occasionally conversing with his therapist, “Dr. TC,” as a way of breaking up the rapper/producer’s angst-fueled tirades. Despite the controversial subject matter and excess edginess present at nearly every turn, Goblin has its occasional moments of greatness and sincerity. Tyler, the Creator and the rest of Odd Future would go on to inspire a generation of kids to be themselves, and while that message is dwindled by Goblin’s many flaws, the messages of anti-conformity and self-expression are exactly what carried Tyler, the Creator to superstardom in later years. – Dominick (6.5/10)

Tyler's journey from shock rap shogun to figurehead of the contemporary neo-soul and experimental hip-hop scene is one that will be looked back upon as a thing of incredible charm. The capacity to perform a complete 180—in the artistic sense—is something that not many can pull off, never mind pull off as effectively as Tyler has. Before the last decade’s transformation, Tyler and his Odd Future posse's main aim was to make the comfortable uncomfortable, which some argue is the overarching purpose of art. Goblin is Tyler at his most vulgar, puerile, lyrically acrid, and intimidating. Getting under the skin of the American—and in a broader sense, the world—seems to be something held in prestige, and his character thrives off negative press and confusion. Out of context, Goblin is decent at what it does, but inside of said context and timeline it becomes fascinating and crucial to the path that Tyler, the Creator has walked. – Peter (6.5/10)

Tyler, the Creator’s debut album, Goblin, serves as both the start of a new era of hip-hop as well as the weakest link in an otherwise phenomenal discography. Following up his 2009 mixtape, Bastard, Tyler knew that he had gained both a cult of fans and a legion of internet bloggers ready to criticize anything he did. Bastard was already getting flack for being edgy and juvenile, but he turned it up to 11 on Goblin, from the blatant misogyny and rape mention on tracks like “Transylvania” and “Fish,” to the comically poor performances on “Bitch Suck Dick.” It is an incredibly edgy project that will satisfy the teen angst of your typical ninth grade boy, but it’s a tough listen in any other context. There are some cool ideas sprinkled throughout, namely on tracks like “Yonkers'' and “She,” but most of the project is poorly executed. “Nightmare” is probably the best example of a track where Tyler perfectly captures the feeling he was going for, with incredibly personal lyrics that manage to come off as both dark and depressing yet simultaneously sad and vulnerable. However, Goblin’s edginess works against it more often than for it. Even so, there are certainly moments that show signs of great potential, and tracks like “Analog” even foreshadow a style that he went on to perfect on his later projects. Tyler has grown so much since this album’s release, and even if it may not have aged very well, it is still a fun project to revisit and see exactly where his head was at a decade ago. – Hadley (6/10)


Dominick: 6.5/10 | Peter: 6.5/10 | Hadley: 6/10

Cam: 5.5/10 | DeVán: 5.5/10 | Alan: 4.7/10