GENRES: Hip-Hop, Experimental Hip-Hop
TOP TRACKS: Burgundy, Sunday, Hive, Chum, Centurion, Uncle Al, Molasses, Whoa, Hoarse, Knight
Earl Sweatshirt, the notoriously talented little freak out of LA's Odd Future collective is finally back and he has come back to more hype and anticipation than any of his previous projects ever had. At first this was a bit of a surprise to me. Earl had never really drawn that much outside of the Odd Future market and mostly hardcore hip-hop fans. To me his style is amazingly unique and his rhyme schemes are some of the best I've personally ever heard. Also his music is very dark from his lyrics, to his production to the ideas he presents as a whole on is projects and this one is no exception. So why is Earl getting so much more popular?
I think it's because people are finally realizing what a great rapper he is. He may not be Drake or Kendrick Lamar in term of marketability but in terms of creativity he's up there with the best. Personally he's always been my favorite member of Odd Future. To be honest I don't really like any of them that much except Earl, Frank Ocean (if he really counts) and maybe Mike G.
Doris has been a work in progress for a few years for Earl and I think that also added to his hype just a bit. He's been teasing this album with sick singles like Whoa, Chum and Hive but they have all been spaced out quite a bit in release. I loved all of these singles and when I heard them in the context of Doris they made even more cohesive sense.
There were so many just meaningful hip-hop tracks on here that proved that commercially-acceptable isn't always the best way. Earl's music is dark. His beats have heavy and muddy synths and the rhythmic variations are often unsymmetrical and syncopated. These are all incredibly unconventional methods for rap music today, but that's nothing compared to his rapping style.
For example take "Burgundy" which is produced by Pharrell (and sounds amazing by the way). Earl comes on sounding dangerous, deranged and paranoid and he couldn't be better at it. He talks about how everyone wants music from him and doesn't care about what he is going through. He also reveals that's he's afraid he's gonna fuck it up which is Earl showing that he feels vulnerable. Someone who listens to strictly pop-music might cringe at some of the things that Earl says but he's real and he's honest and for that reason I think he's more than just some creepy little dude, he's a great rapper. He's really not about the bullshit that Odd Future brings about. He's a lot more serious about his work.
I was really happy to see Frank Ocean get on this album and not sing but RAP on the track "Sunday". I haven't heard him do this since "Oldie" from the OF Mixtape Vol. 2. His verse is good and of course so is Earl's. Some of the guest spots on Doris work well in the context of the whole album. For example RZA's song is very dope, Vince Staples sounds really great on all three of his tracks and even Tyler, the Creator does well to add his bombastic personality to some of Earl's darker songs like "Whoa" or "Sasquatch". However some of the verses from guests were really lackluster especially compared to those from Earl. For example Domo Genesis has always come across as generic to me and it's no exception this time around on "Knight" and "20 Wave Caps". But the worst instance of this would have to be on the guest verse on "Guild" from Mac Miller who I am really starting to not like His verse is just all around boring and slow-paced and even by the time Earl comes in, it's as if Mac's verse was too long for him to salvage this track.
At its heart, Doris is ALL about the raps. For example on the 3rd single "Hive", Earl's verse is so delightfully fucked up. There really isn't a hook, instead Earl uses the time for his friends Vince Staples and Casey Veggies. Both of whom do really well with their verses.
The darkness of this album is definitely not without purpose. It seems there is a method to his madness. Earl can often be poignant like he is on "Chum". When I first heard this track upon its release I was surprised. Earl was being brutally honest about things like his father leaving and him leaving for Samoa. He's almost too honest to be believe as Tyler, the Creator jokingly dismisses at the beginning of "Whoa" with his little rant (Noo, no fuck no!...)
Earl really hit home with this one. He did this thing and it proved to work out really well. Good for him. Doris is a winner for sure and the majority of the tracks on here are good if not great. If I had one problem with it, there were some spots where Earl seemed to feel like he needed guests to fill out the tracks and make them more legitimate when he really didn't. Quite honestly, he could have done away with have of the features on here and the album would be better if he rapped in their place. He's that good of a rapper. However, these problems are petty in comparison to how full and complete this project is. Absolutely great release from a talented young teenage rapper.