I was thinking recently about how young hip-hop has got in the last few years. Some of the most exciting acts in the genre were born after 85’. Between Joey Bada$$, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and the ASAP Mob, Pro Era and of course OFWGKTA, there is a whole new crop of rappers that have either already made classics, are experimenting with new sounds, or haven’t even made a major label début yet. Probably the youngest and most famous of these is Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. In 2010 he got famous for being absent when Odd Future exploded, but instead of being left behind he became one of the most interesting facets of the Odd Future traveling circus. Now he’s back, been featured on a few tracks, and is ready to release his first LP. Earl must have understood the hype and importance of this album because what he gave us was something worthy of 3 years of waiting.
The most striking feature of the album is the hooks…there aren’t really any. Short of the first single “Chum” there aren’t really any hype tracks, head bangers or club hits to be found on this album. That’s mostly a production choice and the executive producer on the LP is randomblackdude Earl’s pseudonym. Even if this is a long way from the Earl mixtape there is no shortage of phenomenal rapping. That being said the rapping is probably the main draw of this album to the casual listener.
As far as rap goes there is SO MUCH to cover. Tyler makes an appearance on the two songs he produced on the album as well as other Odd Future members Domo Genius, Case Veggie, and Frank Ocean (who raps like he did on Oldie!) Also we have Vince Staples, Mac Miller, and RZA (yeah I know THE RZA!) All in all it’s a pretty solid lineup, and it shines though in the great wordplay especially from Earl himself.
Earl is very good at rapping. I haven’t met anyone yet who would disagree with that statement. In fact he is the standout in almost every one of these tracks (I think Tyler and Frank are the only ones that give him a run for his money.) His themes may be a bit less cartoonish, but his rhymes are just as dangerously complex as ever. Anyone who knows Earl knows his style might not be totally original, but his is fast making it his own. His slight lisp and deadpan delivery mixed with more syllables then you could believe you could fit in one breath is really his bread and butter. His puns and rhymes are spot on as well, and you’ll probably be discovering and rediscovering new ones for many listens. If you can appreciate rapping at all then you will be quick to forgive Earl for making an album that’s a bit on the somber side.
In retrospect, this was not the album I expected Earl to put out. I expected something more like Tyler’s “Wolf” which had both hype tracks and more somber tracks. Instead Earl decided to make the album he wanted to make, and just let his talent fill in the blanks. It is certainly worth the hype.