Gone is the façade of the teenager with an obsession for murder and rape and now we are finally introduced to the real Earl Sweatshirt, fatherless problems and all.
Earl Sweatshirt at 16 was banished by his mother to Samoa to sort his self out in a therapeutic disciplinary camp, due to what he describes as “he kept fucking up”.
While he was away a lot changed, including his collective Odd future becoming a main talk amongst hip hop circles, mainly due to the leader Tyler the Creator dropping his sophomore album Goblin in 2011.
Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album.. mixtape.. Whatever you wanna call it EARL, was a taster of what Earl was capable of doing… A complex lyricist with a chill flow and attitude, that some named him the next coming of Nas.
The album features a lot of former and current Odd future collective members with the likes of Tyler the Creator, Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean and Casey Veggies (Former), and also with the likes of upcoming west coast rappers Vince Staples and Mac Miller and Hip Hop legend, RZA.
Doris content is much different from Earl Sweatshirt’s earlier material, with complex rhymes concerning Earl’s place in society and a range of internal emotions.
The album opens with ‘Pre’ and we are met with a grimey west coast rap from none other than Odd future members Frank Oceans cousin, SK La’ Flare. La’ Flare offers a bravado rap, and Earls verse gives no indication on what concept this album will be. This track does offer a lot of catchy and replayable lines over a hypnotic beat.
‘Burgundy’ featuring Vince Staples, is a short stab at the sufferings of fame and how he is just an object to make music, with no one caring for his own time as a teenager wanting to do teenage stuff. This song is helped out with spacey production from The Neptunes, Chad Hugo, and is one of my favourite songs on the album.
Earl on ‘20 Wave caps’ shows off one of his best skills as an artist, his ability to make a plain story interesting with creative lyricism. This joint is definitely one that grows on you with every listen. With Earl telling a story of him on his way to the studio with of course a few distractions such as a “women with a large gluteus maximus” and him smoking down a quarter pack. Domo also offers one of my personal favourite verses from him.
‘Sunday’ is one of the realest and emotionally powerful songs on the album offering two confession like verses from Earl and Frank Ocean, with Frank offering a few stabs at Chris Brown on the way.
The next two tracks ‘Hive’ and ‘Chum’ are my favorite songs on the album with both having videos drop prior to the albums release. ‘Hive’ is a haunting song from the opening line “I put my fist up, when I get my dick sucked” with the song having the catchiest lines and a beat that will be stuck in your head for days. Chum is a song much like Sunday with Earl at his most vulnerable, “Wonder where my father is, he left me fatherless” this song is full of a lot of questions Earl asks him self in life.
‘Sasquatch’ may have been one of the most anticipated songs heading into the release, due to having Tyler, the Creator as a feature, this song did disappoint though. The track sounds like a left over track from Tyler’s own album, ‘Wolf’ which was released earlier in the year. The song offers some funny moments but does not suit the direction of the rest of the album.
The Vince Staples assisted track “Centurion” is a solid one but is followed with a couple forgettable interlude tracks, ‘523’ and ‘Uncle Al’. I found myself struggling to get into these song as they were both around one minute long, but it was interesting to hear Earl rap over an electro trap beat on the latter of the tracks.
Earl and weed rapper, Mac Miller combine on ‘Guild’ and it maybe my least favourite track on the album. The song majorly suffers from being slowed down with their voices being nearly unrecognizable. This song was definitely at fault due to them being very stoned in the studio at the time or forcing too hard for something that would be effective on a trip.
‘Molasses’ and ‘Whoa’ are both bangers that were really needed to pick the mood of the album up. ‘Molasses’ features Wu Tang’s RZA on the hook spitting “I’ll fuck the freckles off your face bitch..” This song maybe the song that screams, “I don’t give a fuck” the most and is a typical Odd Future track. ‘Whoa’ was the second single in the lead up to the album, and is a somewhat OFWGKTA anthem as Tyler chants “it’s the G-O-L-F W- A-N-G” over a sensational beat.
‘Hoarse’ and ‘Knight’ close the album out on high, with some of the finest production on the album. ‘Hoarse’ is a guitar heavy beat with even an interesting sample of a Horse that Earl and the group got themselves. This song is especially good as the beat is not to over bearing and allows the listener to fully appreciate Earls gift of lyricism. ‘Knight’ has such an interesting story and is a compelling listen, along with Domo spittin some more fire to finish of track.
Overall this may be the most well rounded production on an album coming from the Odd future collective. There is many highlights to this album, and is lyrically impressive and with it being only 45 minutes long it is easy to listen to in one listen.
This album, gets a 7/10 rating from me as I felt there was a few lackluster tracks in the middle of the album that drew away from the impressive start and finish and Earl also needs to select better hooks that will complete the songs. It is a definite announcement that Earl is one of the best rappers today and is an album that will get better with every listen.