“Kill people, burn s***t, f***ck school” were the lyrics that resonated with a young 14-year old me, and don’t ask me why I was 14.
Those lyrics were from the chorus of a song titled “Radicals” by artist Tyler the Creator from his debut studio album “Goblin.” The album made me become a lifelong fan and gave me an eccentric view of music and the Los Angeles artist.
The West Coast is seen as a cornerstone for hip-hop/rap music, most notably Los Angeles.
L.A. is labeled as the birthplace of “gangsta rap” from the earliest artist that came out of Compton, California known as N.W.A., to the likes of Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, The Game, and newer artist YG just to name a few.
Rap fans were used to hearing about all the bad things in L.A., such as gang-banging culture, police interactions, and other traumatic events. Until a kid from Hawthorne, California who went by the name Tyler the Creator started his rap journey and gave a different and foreign perspective growing up in the inner city of L.A.
He was the frontman of the rap collective Odd Future, a group of teenagers from the L.A. area as well, who made and produced music. Tyler was the stand-out due to his expressive attitude and budding charisma.
In him, I saw myself, just without the full confidence he has. Tyler made it OK to be yourself and not feel the need to try and fit into your surroundings.
He made it cool to skateboard, wear clothes that others weren’t, dye your hair and draw on your shoes.
As a high school freshman beginning my journey of self-discovery, this album was everything to me. It probably was the only album I was listening to for the first 3 months when it released. It gave me a different feeling from other music I was listening to at the time, a feeling of wanting to be a rebel, unapologetic, and not give a care in the world what people thought.
“Goblin” allowed me to open up my musical taste and be more open to different genres and types of sounds. The melodic dark sound in “Goblin” to my surprise was a pleasant listen and I wanted to hear more songs that sounded that way.
I spent countless hours listening and memorizing his album. Playing it every morning and finished it all the way through the night while pretending to do my homework because school was not a priority for my ninth-grade self at the time.
This album did so much for me because Tyler was an African-American male from inner-city L.A. who wasn’t the stereotypical rapper with his look, music, or the way he spoke.
He’s his own person and that’s what made him stand out to me.
Tyler gave a voice to the voiceless and confidence for young black boys to be themselves and thrive while doing it.
In the words of The Creator from his song “Where These Flowers Bloom“: Tell these black kids they could be who they are, dye your hair blue shit I’ll do it to.