TRACK LIFE: Tyler, the Creator – “Trashwang”
Welcome to Track Life, a daily column in which Jacob Knight shares what he thinks to be the best in music, both new and old.
Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin was my favorite album of 2011. Rooted more in punk and hardcore than it was in traditional hip hop, Tyler captured the high wire intensity of their live shows (of which I’ve attended three…and yeah, they’re that nuts) while also tossing in a gaggle of intimate confessionals that wouldn’t feel out of place on an early Eminem record. While it ran a little too long and stumbled a few times (I straight up hate “Analog“), the ambition was there in spades, along with a “fuck the world” energy. But buried under all of that ugliness was a weirdly positive message: “be yourself, chase your dreams, and never fucking give up.” That’s admirable, even if you have to listen to Tyler unnecessarily blurt the word “faggot” a few dozen times to get there.
His latest release, Wolf (out today via Odd Future Records), drops a bunch of the punk attitude but still keeps the raw, unrelenting sonics. Tyler has come a long way as a producer on his third full-length, mixing pretty, twinkling pianos with punishing bass, resulting in a record that is undeniably his best sonically. While I miss the call to mosh anthems, I respect the fact that he’s growing up as an artist…even if he does still love his homophobic slurs.
His embracement of pure hip hop doesn’t mean the insanity is completely gone, as “Trashwang” goes as far as to include Lee Spielman, the front man for hardcore OFR signees Trash Talk, howling at the top of his lungs in the background. Complete with shotgun blasts and verses from both hype men (Jasper AND Taco both holler into the mic with rage), “Trashwang” is the type of track that, when you hear its first notes at an OF show, you make sure there aren’t any fists swinging right at your face. And while it features the first verse from Tyler’s best friend, Lucas, this isn’t some “big happy family” cut. Tyler makes music to skate and riot to, and you can imagine a group of wild hood rats doing either here.
I’m still not sure how to rate Wolf against Goblin, but it’s good to know that Tyler, the Creator’s brand of madness isn’t going away any time soon.