Earl Sweatshirt :: Doris

EarlSweatshirt-DorisListening to Doris is basically taking a trip through a juvenile mind. As a member of Odd Future, that should be expected. Their shock tactic aesthetic has been talked about in rap blogs and mainstream magazines for the last few years now with everyone either hating or raving about their work. And, really, no one can mix references about dinosaur dicks and Rugrats’ Reptar like Odd Future leader Tyler the Creator. You can see how such work can be polarizing.

In a lot of ways, its what makes the album as potent as it is. Sweatshirt’s second release is more mature but still has that edge that only youth can provide. While his first album seemed as if his lyrical work wasn’t fully developed, this release is more emotionally open and poignant. The balance between the two bridges the gap for his fans who have gotten a bit older since his last release, when he was sixteen.

EarlSweatshirt-1On the standout track, ‘Chum’, he spits about how he misses his dad, who left his family when he was six. He follows that up by talking about his place in society as a black guy who doesn’t fit in with white kids or black kids. This provides relief from typical lines, like “99 problems all gone in that one joint”, his opener on the RZA featured ‘Molasses’, that you would expect from less gifted rappers.

The pace of the album moves slower than most hip-hop releases and the ideas running through his lyrics range from contemplative to absurd to plain childish. At the same time, his flow moves without inhibitions as his presence dominates from start to finish. His unpredictable free-form train of thought pushes his innovative rhyme scheme to the front of the listening experience. Yet, if you were reading this on paper, you would be just as impressed with his poetic lyrical writing as his flow and innovative rhyme scheme.

EarlSweatshirt-2The production provides the perfect backdrop for Sweatshirt’s dark lyrics, giving the rapper an off-kilter sinister atmosphere to work with. Employing more lo-fi production has been a staple of Odd Future releases and this release follows suit with Sweatshirt, under the name randomblackguy, and Tyler the Creator providing a good chunk of the production.

As with any release by a prodigy, the project attracted a number of high profile producers. The Neptunes, RZA, the Alchemist, fellow Odd Future member Frank Ocean, and Christian Rich all contributed a track or two. Even though their distinct styles can be distinguished, they all still adhere to Sweatshirt’s gritty sonic vision.

It’s nice to see the potential Sweatshirt promised three years ago start to materialize. The hype built up after his return from boarding school was real. And he might be the most talented rapper to come out of Odd Future, which is a compliment of the highest order considering who comprises the Odd Future crew.


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