Socially conscious music, for the most part, is annoying to me. Especially socially conscious rap music (*cough* Macklemore *cough*) I’m not sure why I started this post with that statement but whatever, maybe it was the VMAs, who knows. I guess Earl Sweatshirt is a rapper and Macklemore “raps”. But Earl isn’t “facing the issues” on his highly anticipated, universally loved new record “Doris”. It’s just a straight up, personal record by a guy who’s just “trying to make pretty music”.
This is supposed to be the part of the post where I tell you Earl Sweatshirt is part of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGK†Δ) a collective of rappers (and two phenomenal singers, Frank Ocean and The Internet) that came out strong in 2010. He released a few songs and an EP during that time. This is also the part where I tell you Earl fell off the face of the music planet for a while and supposedly went off to a “therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys” at his mother’s request, only to resurface in February of 2012. You can look up the rest of Earl Sweatshirt’s bio for yourself.
Earl is, by far, the strongest lyricist in the Odd Future crew. Tyler, The Creator is probably the most prominent of the crew but Earl, to me, is the most clever with his words. “Doris”, Earl’s first major debut, has all the stylings of his previous efforts with classic 808 beats and that very dark, horror movie like instrumentation (i.e. the song “Hive”). The tracks were produced by such veterans as The Neptunes, Frank Ocean, and RZA, so that should be a good indication of how well it was done. You can tell they tried to preserve the minimal nature of Earl’s other pieces of music. It’s almost like a signature sound.
Earl’s lyrics are dark and very self-aware on this record, particularly “Chum”. “Too black for the white kids and too white for the black…”, Earl raps on the track. “Molasses” features and was produced by the legendary RZA from another rap collective you might remember (read: Wu-Tang Clan). RZA definitely put his mark on this stand-out track. The slow, classic soul song (Lennie Hibbert – Rose Len) sampling track displays Earl’s skills as a strong lyricist. RZA really just raps the chorus. “Hive”, “Chum” and “Molasses” are just three of my favorite tracks on the record.
“Doris” is out now everywhere and is already making waves on the charts. This one is definitely going to make some of those “Best of the Year” lists. Earl Sweatshirt is a very young person at only 19. Hopefully he continues to make music and write words in the poetic way that he does. If not, if he decides to hang it up after this record, I bet he’d be just fine with this body of work. “Like it’s nothin’, cuz it’s nothin’ bitch…”.