Showing posts with label earl sweatshirt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label earl sweatshirt. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

video review: 'FEET OF CLAY' by earl sweatshirt

Well, this'll be... controversial? Maybe? We'll have to see...

Next up, we've got either Brother Ali or Homebody Sandman - stay tuned!

album review: 'FEET OF CLAY' by earl sweatshirt

At this point, I've given up having expectations for Earl Sweatshirt. 

Granted, I think we all did with Some Rap Songs, a discordant jumble of jazzy, lo-fi hip-hop that had him sifting through messy questions of numb anger and grief, that felt more like a set of cast-off thoughts than a structured album. And it was certainly a project that I respected... but it wasn't really one I loved, and I got the impression it'd be considered divisive in Earl's larger discography. And while the critics bent over backwards to shower it with praise - which again, I understand, but the particular set of lo-fi tones he used just didn't connect as deeply as I'd like - you can tell that some hip-hop fans were a little hesitant with this direction for Earl, especially long-term. 

And thus when he announced he was dropping a surprise EP from out of nowhere, while a lot of people seemed surprised at the incredibly quick turnaround, I'll admit I wasn't, especially if Earl was continuing to self-produce in lo-fi. Flip and chop up the right sample, blend the percussion in, add bars and muddy mastering and you could have a follow-up, especially if the songs were only a few minutes in length and there was no expectation of hooks or structure; that's the hidden truth about some brands of lo-fi music, the audience that buys into this sound without deeper scrutiny will tolerate a lot more than even mainstream fans who just want bangers with hooks. Now granted, I didn't expect Earl to phone this in, but you can only say so much in about fifteen minutes of music, with the majority of songs under two minutes. So okay, what did we get on FEET OF CLAY?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

video review: 'some rap songs' by earl sweatshirt

Well, this was... tough to talk about. And since I'm not lavishing it with praise I expect there to be backlash, but whatever, I can handle that.

Next up, though... The 1975 - stay tuned!

album review: 'some rap songs' by earl sweatshirt

So I've always struggled a bit with how to properly evaluate Earl Sweatshirt - or indeed, how much I can call myself a fan. Don't get me wrong, I've scored both of his albums thus far highly, I think he's a great rapper with a powerful knack of distilling complex ideas down to aggressively concise ideas and he has a knack for honest introspection that rarely gets the credit it deserves, especially given his origin within Odd Future... but I'd struggle to say that I've revisited much of his work outside of a few songs, and his very limited presence in the hip-hop world at large always gives me the odd feeling I could be hearing much more from him... and yet I don't. 

And thus it was with a little trepidation I was approaching Some Rap Songs - his first album in over three years and his shortest to date, clocking under a half hour, it nevertheless has already gotten a reputation for being a pretty dense and experimental listen at that length. And... honestly, I wasn't sure how to take that, as wild experimentation in tone and production hasn't really been a thing for Earl - he's favoured dusty, stripped back, usually very dark beats so I didn't really have a gauge for where he'd take this. I did know he had lost his father and a close family friend who he considered his uncle earlier this year and Earl has always had a complicated relationship with his family, so I expected that subtext to loom pretty heavily, so what did we get with Some Rap Songs?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

video review: 'i don't like shit, i don't go outside' by earl sweatshirt

Man, this might have been short, but it hit me surprisingly hard. Seriously, check this out, damn good record.

Next up, I'm going to cover an album I've been looking forward to since the beginning of this year. No, not that one. Or that one either. Want to know which? Stay tuned!

album review: 'i don't like shit, i don't go outside' by earl sweatshirt

So time for a serious question: does Odd Future have any buzz anymore?

I don't mean that to be a slight against the rap collective, I really don't, a group that leapt out of the underground with a fully formed style and sound that won them a fair bit of critical acclaim and a strong cult following. And for a couple of years at the beginning of the decade, it seemed like the group was going to ride that wave of hype to album after album of success - not especially in the mainstream, given their subject matter and style, but there would be success.

But across 2014, Odd Future seemed to drop off the face of the earth. Yeah, there were a few scattered mixtapes but none of their big names dropped full-length records, and outside of some touring controversy that got some of their members banned from a New Zealand tour, Odd Future was pretty quiet. Now if you were to go back twenty years, there'd be no issue with this - albums and mixtapes take time to make if you're doing them right, and if Odd Future were secretly cooking things up, it'd be good to see a quality product. But we're also talking about the rapidly shifting landscape of hip-hop, where rap collectives live and die by their buzz, and with the internet that timeline has only gotten faster. And this means the unfortunate question isn't so much when the new Odd Future project would drop, but who outside their diehard fanbase would care if it did?

But out of nowhere, it looks as though we do have a new record dropping, and from the last person I'd expect: Earl Sweatshirt, the slightly off-kilter oddball of the group that initially built his reputation off of his darkly hyperbolic subject matter before destroying it with his surprisingly personal and introspective debut Doris. Now when I reviewed that debut way back in 2013, back before I even had a decent camera, and while I definitely liked it, it wasn't a record I saw myself going back to often - it was slow, dark, dreary, with Earl Sweatshirt's cadence and somber beats making it a heavy listen. Having gone back through it recently, though, I can definitely say I appreciate how meticulous and well-structured it is, balancing social commentary with a personal story well-told. In other words, of the rappers in Odd Future, I got the impression there was the most depth and layers behind Earl Sweatshirt. I was just surprised he would be first to the punch for a resurgence and not Tyler The Creator, and with a surprise album with few features and nothing from Odd Future outside of production, it looked to be an interesting listen. So what did we get?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

video review: 'doris' by earl sweatshirt

I can't honestly say this is one of my best reviews, but that's mostly because I still don't quite know how to feel with Earl Sweatshirt. Still, I tried to review the album and I think it turned out okay.

The album is pretty damn good too.

album review: 'doris' by earl sweatshirt

I have an odd relationship with Odd Future.

Keep in mind it's not like I dislike any of the associated acts, because for the most part, from what I've seen of Tyler The Creator and Frank Ocean, I've liked what I've seen. Hell, I was almost on the cusp of reviewing channel ORANGE last year, arguably one of the best albums to come out in 2012. But I didn't review channel ORANGE and I probably never will, mostly because it represents a bit of a strange problem I have when approaching Odd Future-associated acts: I have no idea how on earth I'm supposed to feel about them. 

Let me try to explain this. For starters, as good as Tyler The Creator can be, I'm not quite sure whether I should buy into the exaggerated elements of his persona or treat them almost as a parody. There's something strange about the way he delivers his lines that's very much unlike Hopsin or Eminem, who are straightforward and direct in their assaults - Tyler The Creator just seems oddly comfortable in the way he goes to shock, and once you get your brain on the same wavelength, he lacks the same ability to surprise. It's even not that I don't doubt that said things he's saying are true, either, but I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react to them, which adds that extra second where I pause to think about that, which kind of stifles my enjoyment of his material. I definitely appreciate the rawer, rougher production on his beats, but too often his flow does nothing to engage me and his content tends to feel strangely distant. 

Frank Ocean also tends to feel distant and isolated (except on heart-wrenching songs like 'Bad Religion'), but that was half of the point with channel ORANGE, most of which I remember listening to in a spaced-out haze of heat exhaustion wandering through the woods outside my house. I'd argue that on the sensory overload alone, channel ORANGE is an incredible success - which really does a disservice to the lyrics, which contain some of the most incredibly descriptive, cripplingly honest poetry put on record in a long time. Combined with the fact that channel ORANGE had plenty to say about the state of modern youth, sexuality, faith, and love, and I'm not surprised at all that people fell in love with the album.

And yet... for some reason, it never truly landed with me beyond a few songs. It's not an album I return to again and again, and for the life of me, I don't really understand why. I want to love it, but yet I feel distant from it, unable to truly connect. Part of it might be that so much of channel ORANGE feels alternatively very personal and then very disconnected from everyone, a bit of a passive observer in his own life. And strangely, I feel the same thing with Tyler The Creator as well, even despite he and Frank Ocean's wildly different deliveries and choices of subject matter. And while it might make for impeccable and effective artistic framing, it also can make for a bit of an odd listening experience that might have kept me away for this past year. 

So will the same be true of Earl Sweatshirt, the oft-absent member of Odd Future who has finally released his debut studio album Doris? Will this be the Odd Future member I finally connect with, or the first I must unfortunately consign to the trash?