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Album reviews
Earl Sweatshirt
Release year:
06 January 2014 / by Vjosa Isai (author)

Earl Sweatshirt, the self-professed adolescent with ‘geriatric tendencies’, has matured even further in his debut album, Doris. The 19-year-old released his album after spending a year in therapeutic retreat at a boarding school for at-risk boys in Samoa. This experience was a lyrical crossing-of-the-threshold for the rapper, who no longer rhymes about killing and rape. This means you can play Doris on full volume without worrying about stomach-churning lyrics.

Forget about rapping to Doris. Bobbing your head is likely all you can do on a second, and even third listen of the album. Earl breathes through his verses, but will have you panting just to catch up. Keeping with his rap style, Earl rhymes with a monotonous and blasé cool. The most talented rapper of the Odd Future Wolf Gang breezes by insanely meticulous wordplay like he’s bored. Not only does he impulsively flow through multisyllabic and assonant rhymes, but the lyrics are rife with hip-hop references and puns that beg full-on Googling to understand.

As the estranged son of a famous South African poet, lyrical genius is somewhat expected of him. Earl addresses these expectations and family relationships in the sixth track off the album, ‘Chum’. He strays from the usual Odd Future raps themes by exploring his goals in life and other struggles throughout the album.

For new listeners, it takes a bit of patience with profanities and some reading past regular drug references to uncover the vulnerable kid behind the tough rhymes.

The author

Vjosa Isai

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