Monday, May 16, 2011

Tyler, The Creator Releases Goblin, and The Internet Goes Morally Crazy

If you're enjoying reading through blogs about music on the internet, there's not a chance you've passed through the last few months without coming to some understanding about who Tyler, The Creator is. Ringleader of rap group Odd Future, Tyler, The Creator is no stranger to pissing off people's lyrical scrutiny and moral structures when regarding socially acceptable material in music. While it's true that music remains, and will always be, an instrument for self-expression to the artist's utmost intent, much of the internet and even fellow musicians have questioned whether Goblin is just a symbol for the world's leniency when regarding homophobia, misogyny, and other discrimination and hate language. If you're wondering what the fuss about Goblin's content is, here's a look at what prominent artist has taken a shot at Tyler's most recent work, and what lyrics are dividing the musical community between those who consider Goblin fun and harmless music, and those offended by the product.

Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara Questions Lack of Criticism 

Most notably, Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara has come forward in an essay titled "A Call For Change," and directly questions what it is about Tyler, The Creator that has prevented him from the musical community's backlash. When specifically regarding the argument that Tyler's lyrics are harmful only at face value, Sarah asks

"In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric?" 
Given that Tyler has been the backbone of Odd Future and has proved his DIY ethics in his production and releases so far, Sara's next suggestion of the reason behind Tyler's invulnerability seems unsurprising:
 "Because, the more I think about it, the more I think people don’t actually want to go up against this particular bully because he’s popular."
It's a weak argument to make, but given Goblin's critical success in recent days, there's perhaps a strong feeling of fear of rattling that mountain of success that Tyler has found and attempting to discredit it due to the inner controversy of the product. 

Tyler's Intentions Or Lack Thereof 

When it comes to Tyler, I'm painfully reminded of my own high school experiences with individuals who stirred the cultural sensitivity and balance between right and wrong as often as they pleased. Naturally, Tyler has focused this fun-loving, curse-heavy verbal career past anything the individuals that would pretend to snort cocaine in the back of my biology class would achieve, but the love of the do-whatever-the-hell-you-want freedom still applies to both. Quoted in The New York Times, Tyler says 
"They don’t know me; they don’t get it...Weren’t they 18 years old at some point, just having fun?" 
That shot at his critics, that accusation of his love of fun while they simply can't see the joy in what he proclaims, is the very defense of his character, work, and even his twitter that has added to recent controversy. While we shouldn't approach Tyler's social networking with the same eye we'll look at Goblin with, tweets such as 

"Telling A Young Nigga To Grow Up Is Stupid,"  
"Gonna Go Dream About Unicorns And Freckled Girls And The Background Music is Gonna Be Really Pretty Chords And Im Gonna Be Riding A Dragon."
I added the last one just because, well, it's a nice representation of Tyler's perpetually strange behavior. When he's not tweeting about women, odd future, or women, he's attacking his critics and giving some insight on what he thinks of the music journalism culture; essentially stating that it's a complete waste of time. When receiving (presumably) negative reviews, Tyler naturally came out and said

"Reviews Are Stupid. I Don't Read Them. You Shouldnt Either Cause Then it Fucks Up Your True Feelings Toward Something Because Of Pre-Opinion"
Interestingly, he has since re-tweeted positive reviews he's received, despite this criticism. 

The Audience, Tyler, and His Goblin
"I'm Prolly One Of They Few Artist Who Makes Albums For They Own Personal Listening Pleasure, Not Make Albums For Anyone Else To Like." - Tyler, statement pulled from his Twitter.
 So who is Goblin for? Comparisons to 90's surge of grittier hip-hop and rap have littered the positive criticism that has landed at Tyler's feet recently, and its success says, despite Tyler's intentions, that Goblin seems to be made for people other than strictly Tyler's personal listening habits. So the question, as it always seems to be when regarding content exposed to the public, is Tyler able to be held responsible for questionable content and criticized for his sociopathic rants, homicidal remarks, and references to the abuse and even rape of women.

Tyler may verbally convulse on twitter when regarding the actual meaning of his songs, but songs like "Tron Cat" with lines such as "Honey on my top when I stuff you in my system/ Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome/ You got a fucking death wish, I'm a genie it'll get done," have predictably angered his opposition. Tyler himself even anticipates the reaction in the same song, "I'm not a rapper nor a rapist nor a racist/ I fuck bitches with no permission and tend to hate shit." We've seen by now that Tyler simply isn't to be taken seriously, with ridiculous lines talking about acts such as snorting Hitler's ashes and the grade-school cursing habits superfluously covering every track with enough "fucks", "shits", and "bitches" to give your grandmother the last album she'll ever hear before her eventual heart attack from shock.

"Bitches running round down pussy take a trip
Make you strip, got my dick harder than the unzipped
Tyler Swift-ly slips his dick inside of Taylor Swift's
Slit, Round trip in that pussy, here comes a tick-
-Et, Them clips poppin on the cat, bustin
Odd mind cannons on the pill
" - Tyler, The Creator's "Fish"

It's true, Tyler, nothing states that your music must be designed to be likable, approachable, or even humane to other people, but if Tyler was so absolutely concerned with making music he felt was only for him, why complain once you relinquish it to other people? If anything, the notion that people don't have a right to complain about Tyler's work simply because the work wasn't made for them seems to be an appropriate response from someone like Tyler, a child only concerned with his own musings, fun, and entertainment. Is there a line to be drawn at what fun others can have in their music though?

Tyler plasters Goblin with disclaimers and peppers his audience with reassurances that he's messing with them; he's crafting his "harmless," "amusing" musical persona with shocking humor (if you're part of the crowd that's laughing) and for better or worse, it's working with resounding success for him. If we're to look at the critical world of music, we can see that the critical reception of Goblin more or less proves that there is a rather large community that feels that Tyler's farces of misogyny, homophobic remarks (the consistent use of the word "faggot), and even his killer fantasies are all projections of a child dealing with rough times in a creative fashion. But if what Sara Quin proposes is true, and you're a homosexual, woman, or simply sensitive to the subject matter, the question remains of who is responsible for the reaction. Is the audience or Tyler morally responsible for the outrage?

It's a difficult division to make, angering those who feel Goblin treads upon moral ground that should be left alone, and provoking a response from fans that feel as though those offended simply can't take a joke. Whether you're crusading against Odd Future's collectively dirty mouth or campaigning for Tyler's brilliance, you're a part of an interesting debate that has been seen in the industry before and will no doubt arise again in Tyler's future work.

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1 comment:

  1. Great article. As a bisexual, myself, I'm not personally offended by Tyler, the Creator's lyrical subject matter, but I can see how many others would be. It's an interesting hot topic in the music world right now and I'm glad you posted such an intelligently written piece about it.