Finally, we find ourselves at the end of the “Free Earl” saga. If y’all don’t remember, a couple years back, right when the OFWGKTA crew was on the verge of house-hold name status, out of nowhere, Earl Sweatshirt‘s overprotective mom decided that his music was too offensive and sent him to military reform school in Samoa. Homie straight vanished–even his OF bandmates had no idea where he was.
There was complete confusion everywhere. It was brilliant marketing. Give us a taste of your dopeness, disappear for a year or two, watch the demand skyrocket, then re-enter the game with the fury of 10,000 angry Kendrick Lamars.
Two years later, he comes through with Doris. Nothing mindblowing here. I mean, it’s definitely different than pre-Samoa Earl, but he hasn’t moved forward or backwrads as an artist… just sideways, really.
Hit play below and check out our reactions track by track.
1. Pre (Ft. SK La’Flare) [0:00]: The synth line on this one is crazy; cinematic yet aggressive at the same time. I love that shit. SK La’Flare starts off and blazes his verse, too. Dope way to start the album, and I definitely want to hear whats coming up.
2. Burgundy (Ft. Vince Staples) [2:52]: Earl locks into this bouncy, percussion driven joint and talks that shit. Feeling the subject matter here, too. Real. Also, I haven’t heard a bad verse from Vince Staples in a minute.
3. 20 Wave Caps (Ft. Domo Genesis) [4:59]: This shit is aiiiight. Domo kinda goes off on his verse, but Earl comes off as kinda boring to me. The beat is snooze worthy too, dawg. Somebody bring me a coffee or somethin’. Or maybe a 5-Hour Ener…never mind.
4. Sunday (Ft. Frank Ocean) [7:11]: I like this joint. Frank Ocean is actually decides to rap here, and it’s (surprisingly) not wack at all. The beat is pretty average to me, but both emcees float over it, regardless. Imagine if Frank did an album where raps and sings the whole time. Then we wouldn’t need Drake.
5. Hive (Ft. Vince Staples) [10:38]: “If this was ’88, I would’ve signed to Ruthless”. You gotta play this one while driving 2mph through a suburban neighborhood, staring down pre-schoolers and shit. The bass on here is knocking like Lane vs. Pete Campbell, the crack on that snare is reminiscent of some old school Dilla shit. NO idea what the hell Earl is talking about on this song, though. Just a lot of crack cocaine mentions. Hmmm.
6. Chum [15:15]: Earl almost gives us a mini autobiography on this one. I can’t even lie, though: at this point, I felt like I’ve heard this same song 3 times before. A lot of these beats are in the same damn tempo and I feel like I’m trapped in a vortex. A sober vortex. I will give it to Earl for that Vince Carter line, though.
7. Sasquatch (Ft. Tyler, The Creator) [19:19]: Nah. This is just weird, bruh. This something you listen to before going out on Halloween night, while you’re dressed as an androgynous werewolf or some shit. Where is my coffee, though?
8. Centurion (Ft. Vince Staples) [22:07]: Just. Wait. For. The. Beat. Switch up. Fiyaaah!
9. 523 [22:07]: A cool little instrumental interlude. I’m feeling very cozy after this one, for whatever reason.
10. Uncle Al [26:43]: This is like Earl’s Beach is Better. Except, not really. This beat is hard, though.
11. Guild (Ft. Mac Miller) [27:36]: I would rather plug my headphones into a blender than have to listen to this song again. I fully understand that Mac Miller is trying to shed his bubble gum image by doing more druggy, trippy shit…but, nah. This song is just turrible, (c) Charles Barkley. Or, I need drugs.
12. Molasses (Ft. RZA) [31:29]: Man, was really hoping to get a verse from the Almighty RZA on this one. This beat sounds like something you could have heard on a old Ghostface album and Earl does this thing, “A duffle full of troubles, trunk rattle in that Mazda.” I’m waiting for the right situation to use that line from the chorus on a female, though. Wish me luck.
13. Whoa (Ft. Tyler, The Creator) [33:46]: Whoooooa. Earl and Tyler completely spaz on this track, trading verses with that Only Built For Cuban Linx charisma. This beat is some gritty, west coast boom-bap dopeness. I could see Dom Kennedy on this. Oh, and “Posted on the block, like I ain’t make a quarter million off of socks!” Might be the line of the album, bruh.
14. Horse [37:03]: Yaaawwwwn. My biggest criticism of Earl on this album has to be his inability to put multiple hot songs together. This one is a snoozer.
15. Knight (Ft. Domo Genesis) [40:55]: Domo and Earl are sparring on this one but I gotta give it to Domo. The pitch shifts during the verses throw me a off a little, but then again, I’m still sober.
To wrap it up, Earl definitely shows a progression on this album, moving away from the shock rap nature of Earl, and more into a space of honest reflection. However, this isn’t an album you’ll be playing in the whip while cruising with your homies. It is something you need to dedicate time to sit and properly process all the lyrics and the intricacies of the production. I would have enjoyed it more if some of the sleepier (read: boring) tracks had been omitted, but you judge for yourself.
Did Earl make you want to get your sweatshirt on with Doris?