Tyler, The Creator – The Devil in a White Tee
Goblin in 3,600 words: A pretty average introduction to Tyler, The Creator and OFWGKTA
By Ben Pratt
You’re fucking with me, aren’t you? Wait, what? You’re actually serious? You don’t know Tyler, The Creator? Fuck man, you better grab a seat, and make it something comfortable, ’cause I got a whole lot a shit to tell you.
You remember way back in the day when dreaming to be a rapper meant you were just some bad-mouthed punk kid with a backwards baseball cap, tube socks, a quick wit, a big ol’ pile of SPIN magazines and some sense of personality? Even if you can’t, or weren’t, born in a time when this even seemed like a viable movement of music, you tuned in at the perfect time, because Tyler, The Creator may just be that violent-cynical-potty-mouthed-honest twenty-year-old black kid from the streets of CA that holds enormous power and the potential to turn underground and independent hip-hop into an epidemic; an epidemic that has teenage white kids out buying his records just so they can fit in at school, an epidemic that has adolescent females dressing up in heels and wearing sexy red lipstick to Tyler’s show, just in case he lets them suck his dick that night. An epidemic that could see underground and independent hip-hop (not just the music, but the lifestyle, the grass and the whole ‘tude that comes with being in a rap and skate crew) blow up. More worrying for the left wing types and all those overprotective American Mommys and Daddys though, is Tyler is doing all of this in a time where the biggest player in the world economy (the self-proclaimed powerhouse, United States of motherfucking America) is down the drain $2 trillion and people don’t know where to turn to get out of the shit. Tyler and his rap crew, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’s infiltration of White America’s mainstream and conventional music and culture could not have come at a better time.
More important than anything though, Tyler is igniting an attitude that their music is not cool, popular or mainstream. Listening to Tyler doesn’t make you cool, it doesn’t make you hip and it sure as hell isn’t Tyler’s intention for it to get your dick sucked when you tell that drunk high school girl you met at a party that Goblin is the best rap record to drop since Diamond D came out with Stunts, Blunts And Hip Hop back in ’92. Without a doubt, Tyler is ticking all the relevant boxes that are set to see him and OFWGKTA become superstars among a generation and rise to cult-like figures, leading a new breed of listeners and followers into the future, and against the mainstream. All in the meanwhile, fucking White America violently and repeatedly in the arse.
Tyler and OFWGKTA represent a whole new generation of hip-hop loving kids that have Eminem posters sticky-taped all over their walls and carry a single NWA cassette everywhere they go. A new dawn in time where the genre will no longer be associated with radio-friendly pretty boys, when rap and hip-hop is an expression of feeling, emotion and poetry, in a confronting, mature and often crude sense. A time where hip-hop and its community will no longer be looked at as the scum-riddled skid-mark in the undersized underpants that is our society, which so desperately needs a good wash and a change of elastic. These guys represent a whole bunch of kids (not just hip-hop kids) who are sick of seeing the same overall-wearing, red bandanna-sporting, trailer-trash white boy rap about his car, his Mom or the last time he got laid, get his video played on MTV. This is exactly the reason why the world needs Tyler and Odd Future. Shit can’t keep rolling like this.
Three and a bit months ago Tyler dropped Goblin on the world, released through XL Recordings on 10 May 2011. (Coincidentally, the same imprint signed a young socially omnivorous rapper and producer with a whole lotta hype and a modest underground following 10 years ago. His name? Dizzee Rascal.) The album is a 74-minute twisted, sick, dark, sadistic, upfront, in yo face journey that sits you down and makes you listen uncomfortably as Tyler picks apart every wall and wire of his young, troubling, developing, dark and demented brain, and isn’t shy of sticking White America a big fat fuck off middle finger that all the Ambercrombie and Fitch wearing law degree Americans love to hate about him so much (probably because the closest thing they have ever come to causing any controversy or saying anything politically incorrect was accidentally admitting that they thought George W Bush was wrongfully elected in-front of their Daddy’s best friend, who just happened to share a dorm with good old George Dubya and is his biggest advocate. Nice move there, dick).
In similar fashion to Tyler’s debut studio effort (Bastard, 2008), the album opens with the title track ‘Goblin’ and immediately Tyler is all up in my face, harassing me with his problems and unloading all of his emotional baggage on me, like I actually give a fuck. I mean, normally I wouldn’t. I’m not a councillor at Boys Town. I’m not supposed to give a shit about some 20-year-old kid dealing with his critics, naysayers and his father issues, or in this instance, be forced to sit and listen to some chump in a Starter hat talk to his fictional therapist (known to us in the album only as Dr TC) about dealing with fame or the hurricane of success his band is having. None of us are supposed to be into that. We are commercially bred to listen to the same shit fucking music every day, and what’s worse is that it’s force-fed to us. Like we are all grown adults being fed like infants. The major record companies and chain music stores say, “Here comes the aeroplane Ben, open up wide. It’s your favourite, a nice big serving of every other same sounding generic band going around”. Then we are forced to sit there with our dirty little bib on and shit music leftovers all across our face while the fuckers just look back at us and say, “How did you like that, Benny? Do you want some more?” So I fake a smile, politely nod and say, “Mmmm yeah. That stuff was pretty good!” When really, I hate the fucking thing. I hate the way it dresses, I hate the way it looks, the way the lead singer styles his hair for two hours every morning so it looks like he just got out of bed. And I’m sure if it were actually a food it would taste like the blandest shit known to man. I should really be standing tall saying, “No. Fuck you music industry! Your music is shit, I hate it. When are you going to feed me something that at least looks like it’s going to taste good? And don’t call me Benny! I hate that fucking name.”
Enter Tyler, The Creator.