Please forgive the tardiness of this review, however I genuinely feel like this album deserves more than an half arsed review. Earl Sweatshirt dropped his debut album Doris on the August 20th to fairly good reception, clocking close to 49,000 copies sold in the first week of its release. As bad as it sounds, I have a thing for shuffling songs and not giving them a chance within about five seconds of hearing the start. This time though, it only felt right to give this whole album a thorough listen and eventually it’s ended up being on rotate.
Doris isn’t quite the “turn up” album, but rather a lyrically crafted body of work with beats that either make you drift into thoughts about problems in your life you probably don’t actually have, or cruise around contemplating whether or not to cause a little bit of mischief in an extremely riveting and bad ass Kids (a 1995 teen drama film based on a New York skate crew) sort of way.
Earl boasts a hearty line up of features and production with Frank Ocean, Vince Staples, Casey Veggies, Domo Genesis, RZA, Mac Miller and long time friend and collective group member Tyler, The Creator. On standout production I must mention “Hoarse”, which has contribution from Canadian instrumental Hip Hop-jazz trio Bad Bad Not Good (BBNG) who are on their way to Wellington on September 28th. As mentioned in a previous article leading up to the release of Doris, Earl has this striking way of telling stories. He touches on being away from the scene, and although he doesn’t divulge his life story, we hear more on how he feels about people picking him apart in terms of making music more than caring about his feelings notably on “Burgundy” and “Chum”. He also elaborates on his feelings about his father — renowned South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, being absent for a large chunk of his life; the trials he has with his mother, and supposed girl problems. Now, I know you may be thinking “is this an article about the Drake Memes or Earl?” But really, the way he details his accounts is out of this world. Let’s not ignore the fact that he IS part of Odd Future, so of course he’s got his raw grim numbers like “Centurion” featuring Vince Staples.
After listening to this album a hefty number of times it’s safe to say I like it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Earl’s compelling choices of topic and fluency. Finally we get a little more mystery diminished in terms of Earl… Only a little though.
Doris is available for purchase on iTunes and you can stream it here.
I’m sitting here pretty much waiting with baited breath for Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album Doris. I suppose someone would consider me a little bit biased towards this guy because I had (and probably still have a teenage fascination) with him and Odd Future all together. They came out extremely controversial with a grizzly “we give no fucks” attitude, followed intensely by aggressive and often discomforting lyrics. I mean, there have been artists who have had significantly violent references and degrading lyrics towards females; think early Eminem as a likely example. However, what was shocking about these guys was the fact that they weren’t even eighteen yet and had this barbaric sense of humour, blended with contradiction; especially regarding their lyrics slamming homosexuals despite two prominent Odd Future members, Syd the Kid and Frank Ocean, being openly gay/bisexual. Let’s just say- they all had people divided. A lot of young people followed them because they almost confirmed that being a rebel or perhaps, being different for once was cool, and, well, everyone else felt they were literally mind warping the youth.
I feel like their full on look may have slightly overshadowed their lyrical ability. Some people who have followed Odd Future since their early-ish days would probably agree that Earl may arguably have the most intriguing flow and lyrical craft out of the whole collective. Along with his flow- it’s hard to deny that this guy really had everyone on their toes when he suddenly disappeared, not only from the crew, but almost from existence. Later, he was found all the way in Samoa; where he’d been for almost two years at a school for trouble teenage boys. Obviously we’re all thinking “when is he coming back? Will he stop making music? Will he still be OF?” Many false alarms of supposedly new songs, and “new information” about him would come about and I, for one, sort of dwindled away from waiting around for Earl to come back.
Finally a sign came about. A verified Twitter account, a video, and Chum which would be solid evidence that Earl was back to it. It was so fascinating that upon the release of Chum and the video, I personally felt so sad, yet I continued to play it over and over again to grasp each lyric. The last line of the song “Been back a week and I already feel like calling it quits” somewhat resonated with how many people tend to feel when the pressure’s on, or perhaps when they feel overwhelmed by something. In varying degrees, we all have felt like that before. However, what’s more interesting about Earl is he’s somewhat of an enigma. People want to know exactly why he left, people want to know about his life, and people want to hear it in the poetic word-play he’s notorious for. This brings me closer to why his first studio album, Doris, is something to look forward to. While coming from a collective who make a sound so exclusive and easily linkable to themselves, it’ll be great to see what stories Earl has to tell. Even just hearing more of the slow “just woke up and this is how you’ll have it or leave it” can draw one closer to visualising what he has to say. There’s something about it. Earl still gives off a dark and solemn vibe, however, this guy is an impecable storyteller. Doris comes out on the on August 20th.