Yep, I’m that white guy, the same as those in Instagram videos with people dancing around to Future’s ‘Mask Off’. I’m listening to some of Americas newest and roughest rappers in the likes of Vince Staples, A$AP Rocky and here, Earl Sweatshirt, not because I can relate to it but because it sounds so God damn good, and the stories some of them tell are fantastic. ‘Doris‘, ticks both those boxes
Real name Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, I came upon him through Tyler, The Creator and Odd Future. I read how he had released a Mixtape called ‘Earl‘ in 2010 and how his mother so was concerned for him after hearing it, that she sent him to Samoa to boarding school until he was 18. So first thoughts, this must have been pretty fucked up! Luckily, around the time I found Earl Sweatshirt I also found out his debut, ‘Doris‘, would be out soon. So that was my next port of call. I listened to ‘Chum’ which had been released as a single and knew this was a guy I’d have to follow. Incredible track with just some piano and drums. Simple, but the lyrics get the point across, which I took as Earl feeling lost and also the relationship or there lack of he has with his mother and father.
I had bought the album without hearing anything other than ‘Chum’, and I was very surprised by it on the first listen. There were songs I just didn’t think had to be in there, changes in arrangements and sounds in the middle of songs I liked that I didn’t think suited, and rap about god knows what, gibberish. BUT, and it’s a big but, I had to give it a few listens. I loved ‘Pre’ as an intro and the chilled beat mixed with the threatening lyrics really caught my attention. After each listen I found the appeal of tracks like ‘Hive’,(also released as a single) which featured Casey Veggies and Vince Staples. I know all of Staples stuff but Veggies, no idea. ‘Sunday’ also grew on me and Frank Oceans verse is fucking class, supposedly aimed at Chris Brown. “All my dreams got more vivid when I stopped smoking pot, nightmares got more vivid when I stopped smoking pot” goes the chorus, and throughout the record you hear the importance of weed. ‘Burgundy’ is solid and Domo Genesis verse in ’20 Wave Caps’ shows the calibre of talent that Earl employed on the record, but also how good the team of Odd Future is. I also liked how a lot of tracks were short, with 2 rappers getting what they had to say out.
Of the rest of the album, ‘Uncle Al’, for all its vulgarity is still savage. It comes after the instrumental ‘523’, which breaks up the album a little. The beat in ‘Uncle Al’ is possibly the roughest on the album but it matches the lyrics and kind of startles you. ‘Molassas’ is a track I also love, way more fun than any other track as Earl rather happily says he’ll “fuck the freckles off your face bitch“, fair enough. Still, the track is very good, featuring RZA, its got a rasta vibe. Mac Miller features in ‘Guild’, buried under some auto-tune, its only ok. ‘Hoarse’ is another great tune on the record, somewhere in line with an Eminem song in terms of sound, as if Earl uses the music to tell you he finally has something serious to say. Nah, he says plenty of serious stuff about his life and difficult relationships, but the sound in this track says that itself.
The standout track and special mention goes to ‘Whoa’. It was also released as a single and features Odd Future leader Tyler, The Creator. It’s a bit all over the place but all too good too, and the video is GAS. So I would highly recommend this record, and his follow up AFTER you get ‘Doris’
Photo Credit: Genius