ALBUM REVIEW: Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Doris artwork
Doris artwork

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.36.33 AM

ARTIST Earl Sweatshirt

ALBUM Doris

LABEL Columbia / Tan Cressida

RELEASE DATE 20.8.2013

8.5 | 10

While Tyler, The Creator remains the most visible member of Odd Future, due largely to his headline-grabbing tendencies, it’s fellow OFWGKTA members Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean that have provided the group with the critical acclaim needed to elevate the crew above their contemporaries. On Doris, Earl Sweatshirt attempts to recreate the magic of Frank Ocean’s instant classic, 2012’s channel ORANGE, by largely forgoing the worst tendencies of today’s hip-hop and instead creating an album more in line with MF DOOM than Tyler, The Creator.

Earl didn’t become the most beloved member of Odd Future by accident. He’s always been one of, if not the best, lyricist in the group, and his flow is rivaled by few. The tracks that comprise Doris act as short vignettes that, when pieced together, help shape the Earl’s image. Two of the first four tracks are among the album highlights, the aforementioned “Burgundy” and “Sunday.” That latter acts as a sort of part two to Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids,” with Ocean assisting Earl this go-around. The pair remain lovable despite “leaving you at the baggage claim,” having “left you at terminal three,” and generally fumbling their attempts at wooing their suitors. “Loving you is different / I don’t like you a lot / I mean… fuck,” raps Ocean on the track, providing a bit of levity to an album that is mostly centered on the demons facing Earl.

“Chum” remains the best track in Earl’s all-too-brief discography, as it is his most introspective cut yet. “It’s prolly been 12 years since my father left,” Earl announces, unsure exactly how long he’s been left “fatherless.” His flow is in top form here, to the point where it sounds like Earl could do this in his sleep. He very well may been asleep during the recording of the lean-tinted “Guild.” The increasingly tolerable Mac Miller stops by for a goofy, yet satisfying verse, comparing himself to Ron Burgundy, but not before wanting to watch a good movie like Adjustment Bureau. The beat is as slow as molasses, demanding the listener to take a breath and slow down.

When listening to Doris, it’s all about submitting yourself to Earl’s twisted, distorted world view. Even the shimmering beat that introduces “Burgundy” is no match for Earl’s downtrodden persona. At 19, Earl has already proven himself to be more technically gifted as a rapper than his age would leave you to expect. That Doris isn’t a slam dunk, but rather a steady listen that holds up extremely well in the face of other 2013 hip-hop releases, should be a signal to all of us that when it comes to Earl, we’re just getting our first taste of how great he can be.

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