Music Reviews: Earl Sweatshirt
February 6, 2020
Music Review: Some Rap Songs
When people talk about the rap game, it’s easy to regurgitate the chart-topping names that most could recall. With the music industry in its current state, it’d be difficult to believe anyone “below the radar” exists. After all, for every Travis Scott there’s an MF DOOM, a J.I.D. for every Post Malone.
Earl Sweatshirt exemplifies this perfectly. An alumni of the now-defunct rap group Odd Future, both him and his releases tend to stay beneath the shadow cast by Tyler, the Creator’s now mainstream following.
While Odd Future was still around, each member had their own reputation: Tyler, the Creator as the wild recluse who spat ridiculous flows about Bill O’Reilly, Frank Ocean as the emotional yet capable singer/songwriter, and Earl Sweatshirt as the penman and rapper responsible for some of the best verses in their collaborations.
While he hasn’t reached performing-at-the-Grammys levels of success, his post-Odd Future record “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside” is a clear technological and lyrical marvel. However, there is one aspect where it fails: it isn’t “Some Rap Songs.”
Originally intended to reconnect him with his absentee father, South African poet and civil rights activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, the album’s production is a marvelous reflection of Sweatshirt’s emotions: depression, complacency, and an everlasting anxiety enveloping him.
This record, similarly to Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed “DAMN,” tells the story of his life. As he grew up in a fatherless household, Earl relates his complacency with fame and evident lack of motivation to his childhood.
In adolescence and teenagerhood, his mood shifted from complacency to self-hatred and depression. The emersion of these feelings are explored in his first studio album, “Doris.”
Towards the end of the track listing, however, is when the record takes a noticeably heartbreaking turn. While the album was originally intended to reconnect Earl with Kgositsile, with “Playing Possum” being a surprise dedication including the voices of both of his parents, this hope fizzled out after his untimely death in early 2018.
Both songs on the remainder of the tracklist, “Peanut” and “Riot!,” were recorded as Earl grieved. “Peanut” acts as a visceral, gripping reality check dedicated to what could have been, while “Riot!” is a dedication to his father’s best friend Uncle Hugh, who died only weeks after.
“Some Rap Songs”’s experimental production, heart-wrenching emotion, and laboriously-crafted verses come together to form a lookbook into the life of one of hip-hop’s best.
Music Review: Feet of Clay
I lost 62 minutes and 20 seconds of my life to this extended play.
The moment I finished my first round listening to Feet of Clay, I knew I was out of my league; this was a realm of music that I had gone to great lengths to avoid.
The beats were uncomfortable, and the music felt wrong in comparison to the playlist I had been listening to not ten minutes prior, Disney Hits on Spotify.
However, I was determined to try and redeem it, as a solitary experience is not enough to truly decide if the album passed the vibe check.
“74” is the first track on the album, not even two minutes long. With and without headphones, the beat and Earl’s almost slurred syllables caused a twinge in my stomach.
The twinge went away when the next track took over. “EAST” is a wholly bizarre song, robotic in the way that the instrumentals were completely void of variation, repeating the same trill over and over again for the entirety of the song.
“MTOMB” was tolerable. Being the shortest track at barely over one minute, this was one of the only songs on “Feet of Clay” that I would revisit in the future without regret.
The next track, “OD” had an onslaught of lyrics themed around drugs, sex, and living life. While insightful in the way only rap lyrics can be, their themes were disturbing and not enjoyable.
Earl’s lyrics on their own have an almost poetic quality to them, with underlying meanings and a raw intensity that makes your mind think.
Nevertheless, these lyrics did not rescue “Feet of Clay” from the list of music that will not be gracing my ears again.
Therefore, four listens, on shuffle and in order, were not enough to allow my soul to vibe with Earl Sweatshirt’s extended play.