Review: Earl Sweatshirt Impresses On ‘Doris’
August 19th, 2013 11:23am EDT
Earl Sweatshirt impresses on Doris
Earl Sweatshirt⎪Doris⎪Odd Future / Columbia ⎪⎪ US Release Date: August 20, 2013
Underground rap as a style has plenty of virtues. It tends to offer an additional element of uniqueness that contrasts more mainstream, commercial rap styles. That isn’t to say that underground rap supersedes the styles, but it offers something different and refreshing. Earl Sweatshirt, like other members of collective Odd Future, releases his major label debut, Doris, which epitomizes unique conception and underground hip-hop cues. Doris eschews any pop crossover, with pop success ultimately never crossing he youthful MC’s mind. Because of this nonconformity, Doris ends up being a fine album, different from other rap releases in 2013.
“Pre” sets the tone, featuring SK La’Flare, who guests on the first verse: “I need the wool, I’mma skin the sheep / and take the bull, skin it to the meat / you full of sh*t, we into deep…” Following SK La’Flare’s unique verse, Earl Sweatshirt follows, with no hook to be found. Sweatshirt offers real talk, providing enough lyrical allusions to ‘float a boat’: “Dealt with addiction, fell for the b***h with the pale butter skin who just packed up and dipped / in the land of the rent-less, stand with my chips…” “Pre” is pretty captivating.
As captivating a start as “Pre” is, “Burgundy” is even stronger, featuring superb production (The Neptunes) and featuring contributions from Vince Staples. Sweatshirt delivers plenty of standout lyrical moments, beginning with verse one in which he states “ Grandma’s passing / but I’m too busy tryna get this f**kin’ album crackin to see her / so I apologize in advance if anything should happen…” or later within the same verse when he says “And when them expectations raising because daddy was a poet, right?” Through and through, Sweatshirt impresses, complementing the unique production work exceptionally.
“20 Wave Caps” can’t quite match the brilliance of “Burgundy”, but there’s still plenty to revel in. Domo Genesis guests on the first verse, spitting ether for sure (“I know that n***as is finding my progression so uncommon / the pressure I’m still applying until I hear the angels crying / sad day in Hell for those who doubted, hope your head explode / cry about it, but don’t deny that Doms got the realest flows…”). Earl isn’t outdone, still impressing us with his unorthodox approach. “Sunday” is definitely interesting, maybe most surprising because a guesting Frank Ocean raps as opposed to lending those silky, soulful pipes. Weird but alluring, “Sunday” is all about the vibe, and that’s a good thing.
“Hive” is among the cream of the crop. Earl Sweatshirt is on fire, period. “In turn, these critics and interns admitting the sh*t spit / it just burn like six furnaces writ it…”, he raps on verse one or “Desolate testaments trying to stay Jekyll-ish / but most n***as Hyde, and Brenda just stay pregnant…”, which he slays on verse two. Throw in an electrifying hook (Casey Veggies collabs with Earl) in which he refers to himself as “Brutus in that booth”, as well as an assist from Vince Staples on the third verse (“Voice inside my head told me wet ‘em if they test you…everybody hard until it’s only God they seeing…”), and “Hive” is a five-star cut.
“Chum”, another home run, finds Sweatshirt in autobiographical mode, rapping about missing his father, his friendship with Tyler, The Creator, and his relationship with his mother. Like some of Tyler, the Creator’s cuts, jazz cues are full throttle towards the end. Speaking of Tyler, he guests on “Sasquatch”, a worthwhile cut, but clearly not among the first tier of cuts. Tyler does get in his brashness, at the expense of One Direction’s fans of all things: “Trashwang scratched inside the knucks / got some One Direction tickets, I should hit that up / drive by with puppy signs plastered on the truck / then see how many of they fans could fit inside the trunk…” Yeah…
“Centurion” is stronger, more on the level of top tier showings such as “Burgundy”, “Hive” or “Chum”. The underground production once more is fresh, as are Sweatshirt’s rhymes. Among the most compelling rhymes arrives on verse two: “Few n***as I’m on a first name basis with / address me by the alias, that trunk weight like he bout to catch a case again, eighths louder than the voice of Satan that be plaguing him…” “523” is an instrumental cut that follows, while “Uncle Al” packs a mighty punch despite being under a minute in duration. Mac Miler arrives on “Guild”, which is usual ‘charm’ with chopped-n-screwed vocals (“Moms love me cause I’m so commercial / I f**k em raw cause I know they fertile…”), while Earl Sweatshirt is no slouch himself (“Tell the label that I want a white driver / and tell him give me space, I don’t know that n***a…”). Crazy stuff, right?
The remainder of the affair is enjoyable, like the majority. “Molasses” featuring RZA isn’t among the best, but it’s good nonetheless. How many rappers will name drop a White Stripes album (Icky Thump)? “Whoa” is a better cut, once again featuring Tyler, the Creator. Sweatshirt’s rhymes continue to be dizzying yet clever. “Hoarse” proves to be a solid penultimate track, Ritalin reference and all (“Eating like the kids when you take ‘em off Ritalin / throwing temper tantrums at the window of your whip again…”) while “Knight” finds Earl and Domo being “young, black, and jaded, vision hazy strolling through the night”.
All in all, DORIS is quite creative and enjoyable. Nothing misses the mark, and the underground and alternative rap aspects only make this effort more intriguing and endearing. Sure, this will only appeal to a certain audience and still won’t make parents happy (plenty of profanity), but Doris serves as a solid artistic introduction of Earl Sweatshirt.
Favorites: “Burgundy”; “Hive”; “Chum”; “Centurion”; “Whoa”
Review – Earl Sweatshirt, “Doris” (jakelbittle.wordpress.com)
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris: a review (samxgillard.wordpress.com)
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris (Album Stream) (hypebeast.com)
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris [Full Album Stream] (constantconfusion.com)
Filed under: hardcore, Hip-Hop/Rap, Mac Miller, Music, New Music, Reviews, underground rap, Urban Tagged: Domo Genesis, Doris, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, music reviews, Odd Future, rap reviews, Tyler the Creator, underground rap
Photo Credits: Columbia Records