Tag Archives: earl sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt – FEET OF CLAY

28 Nov

Earl Sweatshirt has built a solid pocket of rap for himself. He makes muddy, complex, punishing rap in a way that no one else even really attempts. FEET OF CLAY however may have taken it too far.

His muttered, submerged raps are as awe-inspiring as ever. He puts together sounds and words in a way that’s simultaneously muddy and evocative, like scrying in a swamp. It’s singular and cohesive and often somewhat punishing as a result. He has such complex bars with lyricism as unique as it is skilled.

The punishment was always sort of the point, but this is the one where it feels a little unjustified. The album is just too dense and lacks the reward of a “Chum” or a “Grief” to really pay off the effort. If you’re an Earl Sweatshirt fan, then you already know that you should give this album a couple of spins, but if not, this is not the place to jump in.

Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

26 Dec

Earl Sweatshirt has already staked out his space as one of the most interesting of rappers and Some Rap Songs takes him even further into the left field. It’s a fascinating, muted listen. It’s rough and jagged and made with found sounds. It’s uncompromising and extremely rewarding for it.

The first song “Shattered Dreams” has the strong elongation of the dreams of the chorus which continues into “Red Water”. It’s an album that moves perfectly from song to song but seamless would be the wrong word to use. It’s too ragged for that. Instead they fit together like a jigsaw, asymmetric and bitten, but still inextricable when interlocked.

The whole thing is underpinned by Earl’s strong flow. His voice is immediately recognizable. It’s almost a monotone but he gets so much done with it. He’s just compelling to listen to.

His beats are uniformly submerged and complement him well. “Cold Summers” in particular has an intriguing, textured beat that Earl dances around instead of flowing into. It’s thought-provoking and off-kilter and then “nowhere2go” continues the same thought seamlessly.

“The Mint” has a short and simple beat that loops over and over again and that’s all the song needs. It’s minimal and intelligent and gives Earl lots of space to work with. Similarly, the rough-chopped beat of “The Bends” is endlessly gripping while being slightly dissonant. It’s another fascinating moment in an album that’s full of them.

Earl just has the gift of drawing you in. Something like “Cold Summers” pulls you in like a riptide and doesn’t let you go and then he does it again in “December 24”. His rapping is just so deep and dark. It doesn’t give you any chance to surface.

It ends with a jazz interlude in “Riot!” that’s very fresh and that ends with a quick distortion. It’s a very cool, very unexpected moment in an album already defined by those traits. This is the most interesting album of an always interesting rapper and something you should be listening to.


Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

12 Jun


Earl Sweatshirt is busy making his own music. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is dark, honest and minimal in a way that is almost anti-commercial. It is also much harder than any of its peers. With his last album, Doris, he was already far in his own lane. Now, he has set up home there.

This is a confessional of an album. The stark beats perfectly frame his tales of depression and make his paranoia and pain even more jagged. He cuts through it with struts, going from “Focused on my chatter, ain’t as frantic as my thoughts/Lately I’ve been panicking a lot/Feeling like I’m stranded in a mob, scrambling for Xanax out the canister to pop” to “Fishy niggas stick to eating off of hooks/Say you eating, but we see you getting cooked, nigga” in the excellent “Grief” and from “And I’m low and I’m peakin/It’s cold in the deep end” to the anthemic “Ain’t no bitch in my DNA” in “DNA”, but the core is dark. It takes a lot from the artist to bare himself like this, and the fact that most don’t dare makes this all the more powerful.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside requires work from its listener but this is a person laid bare, and a person who doesn’t require effort is a person not worth listening to. This album is definitely worth listening to.


Earl Sweatshirt: Doris

22 Dec

It’s been a while since Earl Sweatshirt has been on a mic. His wordsmithing and flow is much of what made Odd Future into the sensation that they have become. Now, after a long stint at a Samoan retreat for at-risk teens, he is back, has moved from gut-provoking to insightful and in doing so released an excellent exception to this year of mediocre rap.

This is an album that unabashedly requires and rewards work from the listener. The first few times I heard it, it felt more monotonous than mellifluous to me. On repeated listens though, that monotony reveals itself to be deeper and more oppressive than at first blush. Rap has changed from this style of production, now it struts in suits instead of shuffling around, hands in pockets, in the underground. This album comes at you hard and strong the way rap should.

The deep and dark productions fit the deep and dark lyrics well. There are so many standout moments in the murkiness of the album. Earl absolutely destroys in Burgundy as he goes over how he’s struggling with being a commodity. Hoarse runs off a sick, shifting beat and absolutely dazzling wordplay to submerge and almost suffocate the listener. Chum drops you straight into a litany of family issues and leaves you to learn how to swim in it (It’s probably been twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless/And I just used to say I hate him in dishonest jest/When honestly I miss this nigga, like when I was six/And every time I got the chance to say it I would swallow it).

Additionally, the guest spots do incredible work. Vince Staples steals Hive from Earl and Frank Ocean does great work in the trippy Sunday. Big brother Tyler is unmistakeable in Sasquatch (Man, I suck now, I ain’t still dope (nope)/But Chris and Rihanna’s fuckin’ again so there’s still hope/Oh fuck, I went there, balling bitch, I’m Ben’s hair). My favorite though is the RZA dropping the hook in Molasses, which would fit in a Wu-Tang album even without him.

Doris is real rap. The kind of rap parents worry about and that gives kids who shouldn’t be listening anyway nightmares. Rap for people who want to think and talk. Rap so good that it’s broken. Rap you should listen to.


%d bloggers like this: