“I'm a fucking walking paradox...no I’m not”, teases self proclaimed unicorn, serial killer, and Justin Bieber fan Tyler Okonma on his first label released single ‘Yonkers’, the video for which sees the 20 year-old rapper regurgitating a cockroach he just ate before going on to hang himself.

‘Paradox’ would be an appropriate word to describe Goblin as a whole. Its conflicting tones, textures, and sentiments demand the listener’s attention at once like a classroom of petulant children, but despite the surrounding chaos, Tyler, The Creator (who isn’t even present in the classroom, he’s too busy chanting “kill people, burn shit, fuck school!” in the corridors), is the perpetual point of focus. Since becoming the new poster boy for teenage nihilism and parental outrage (much to his indifference), Tyler has shown himself to be the most prevalent and captivating personality in the infectious hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Although he may not be the most technically proficient rapper of the pack, his self-produced solo efforts Bastard and now Goblin demonstrate, through his inimitable brand of fearlessly violent, surrealist fantasy, his ability to make teenage angst more tangible and terrifying than ever.

2009’s Bastard functions within the framework of a therapy session between Tyler and a counsellor who he voices himself using pitch manipulation (not entirely dissimilar to the Dr. Trevis figure on Redman’s albums). Serving as a sequel, Goblin neatly continues this structure. Both albums open with a stream of consciousness style track, which Tyler utilises as a platform to address his own contradictions, simultaneously stomping out and encouraging accusations of homophobia whilst also creating a context for the rest of the album. These introductory title tracks reveal a certain degree of vulnerability in places, which act as a reminder of Tyler’s age regardless of your views on his sincerity. “I’m not a fucking role model/ I’m a nineteen year old fucking emotional coaster” he spits out as his opening statement.

As with all public enemies before them, the cloud of hype and controversy that continues to billow along with Odd Future’s increasing popularity tends to overshadow their actual work. Goblin is a remarkable creative effort, but when the lyrical content includes snorting Hitler’s ashes, raping pregnant women, and stabbing Bruno Mars to death, it is understandable why many have discredited Tyler as an ethically vapid teenager out solely to offend. He probably does get a kick out of it, but there is an acute self-awareness in his twisted surrealism; each moment is carefully calculated to be either funny or shocking, and (for Tyler, at least) the line between these two concepts is blurry at best.

To that end, Tyler is a master of discomfort. Even with his tongue buried deep in his own cheek, some of his lyrics are almost unlistenable, often made to feel even more threatening by the sparse and ominous arrangements which accompany them. The title track is punctuated by minimal, minor key piano parts and drum rolls that resemble the sound of creaking doors, which immediately form dark, looming clouds of apprehension, broken only by the irregular interruption of warm violin parts. However sunny the intervals, they are never enough to shake the uneasiness that acts as a foundation for the album, building tension like the soundtrack to a horror film. The off-kilter and queasy rhythm of 'Transylvania' coupled with Left Brain’s pensive production is like being at a funhouse on acid, struggling to find your footing whilst Tyler (brandishing another animalistic effect on his voice) reels off descriptions of violence caustic enough to rival the inner monologues of Patrick Bateman. ‘She’ is less cartoonish in its approach, but equally as sinister. Discordant synths are married with an eerily realistic narrative of psychotic infatuation: “You’re so gorgeous, I just want to drag your lifeless body to the forest”. Input from the slick voiced Frank Ocean on the chorus unexpectedly steers the track into pop-song territory, cooing the subtly disturbing lyrics “Blinds wide open so he can see you in the dark when you’re sleeping” with the melodic sensibilities of a Ne-Yo love ballad. The same goes for ‘Fish’, in which Tyler explores a relentless rapist/fisherman metaphor to the tune of gentle cocktail bar piano. Menace lies, sometimes dormant, in almost every line. Even ‘Analog’, which seems unexpectedly tender in its allusions to picnics and summertime romance, relents in allowing you to feel entirely at ease: “but be cautious, this is not Dawson’s Creek”. Tyler’s dark narratives are either cushioned by warm tones, or made darker by the ugly arrangements and grainy DIY production.

Although his lyrical dexterity, strung out by a playful use of rhythm and internal rhyme, reaches its peak in ‘Tron Cat’, the delivery is relatively passive in comparison to the gnashing verse of ‘Radicals', although ‘Tron Cat’ is without a doubt one of the best executed tracks on the album. The spite and vehemence so forcefully associated with Tyler, The Creator unleashes itself rather barbarically in ‘Sandwiches’, which, with its downwardly snaking synth lines, marching drums, and “Wolf Gang” war cries was destined to be a cult anthem even before the unforgettable performance on Jimmy Fallon. The brilliantly obnoxious opening line “Who the fuck invited Mr. I Don’t Give A Fuck?” will no doubt be a mantra at countless house parties, where the walls shake with the weight of frustration and drip with teenage angst.

Tyler, The Creator, along with his lyrics, will polarise listeners, and with full intent to do so. His graphic and uncompromisingly violent lyrics have made him a magnet for praise and disapproval in equal measure. If you have already made your mind up about him, then Goblin will not disappoint. It revisits the ground that he established in Bastard and in expanding upon it, the personas of both Tyler and his alter-ago Wolf Haley are given room to present themselves even more fiercely. If this is your introduction to the warped world of Odd Future’s darkest, then get stuck in. But be cautious, this is not Dawson’s Creek.

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