“I’m not a fucking role model, I know this/I’m a 19-year-old fucking emotional coaster with pipe dreams,” Tyler, the Creator raps on Goblin. That would be putting it lightly: With his pension for horrific lyrics, on-stage outrageousness and old-fashioned hustle, the L.A. rapper-producer behind the hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All has become an engrossing, disconcerting trending-topic. His second solo disc (and first on a proper label) is a shock-and-awe psycho-drama — complete with lyrics about stabbing Bruno Mars, hating his absentee dad, eating Xannies and dressing up in panties, tied together by a dialog with a therapist (voiced by Tyler) who really doesn’t seem to be helping much.
“Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome,” he raps in his creepily old-sounding voice against the ominous electro-sway of “Tron Cat.” But if Tyler’s lyrics are early-Eminem evil, his offhandedly lush, left-field R&B-tinged tracks are like strips of light sneaking through the cracks of a lunatic’s drawn blinds; on “Nightmare” images of his mother being knifed are set to a tender piano filigree, and on “Fish,” forlorn cocktail jazz and Prince-ly ballad moves soundtrack uncool thoughts about Taylor Swift. “She” and “Her” even have passing moments of lyrical humanity to go with the pliant music (“When I’m with my friends I just put on a front / But in the back of my top I’m writing songs about ‘we'”). It’s almost like there’s boyish innocence lurking underneath all that bile.
Listen to “Goblin”: