The unforgivingly enigmatic Earl Sweatshirt has become an infamous figure in America’s alternative rap scene. Seen as a mysterious outsider of the rap collective ‘Odd Future’, his 2 year stint in Somalia not helping proceedings, ‘Some Rap Songs’ is his third solo LP - which comes after a difficult period of life for the artist. In his adolescence, he rapped vigorously about the hatred he has for his father, who abandoned him at a young age, but they finally agreed to meet up and talk earlier this year. However, before this could even happen, his Dad died - and the narrative of their distant relationship channels throughout this impressive project.
The two singles Earl released on the lead up to this LP, ‘Nowhere2go’ and ‘The Mint’, rippled with disorientating production and Sweatshirt’s slurry lyricism. His bars reflected on the rapper’s long time battle with depression, whilst diminishing artist’s materialistic commodities by bringing back ‘the sauce’ with his untouchable rhymes. They shape up the project very well, however I couldn’t help but think it wasn’t going to make the perfectly perplexed album his fans have been craving since he dropped ‘Doris’. There are so many highlights on this record though, it doesn’t feature many tracks worth releasing as a single, but it is beautifully crafted with soulful samples, like in ‘the Bends’ (produced by Supreme model Sage Elsesser), and makes the record one that you have to listen all the way through to truly understand it.
Earl is pioneering a new sound coming from the fingers of many American rappers, blending vintage jazz with the lo-fi hip hop we have seen the artist, born ‘Thebe Kgositsile’, experiment with since the age of 16. Now at the age of 24, this LP may have found out how to channel the elements of his earlier mixtapes and latest albums, which his fans are continually divided on. Here though, we are forced to listen to Earl Sweatshirt, not ‘Earl’ or ‘Sweatshirt’ in seperate means, so those who want him for his despair and depressive lyrics have to appreciate his masterful reworks of other genres, like the hazy, bluesy production on album closer ‘Riot!’.
I do miss the tongue and cheek angst that we heard on ‘Earl’ and ‘Doris’ - ‘Hive’ will always be my favourite track of his and I would have loved to see him venture into the drony vibe of that hit. I cannot really complain though, especially as this album is like none other I have heard before. It is a record that creates the illusion of a family, with the samples of his mother on ‘Playing Possums’ describing him as a “Cultural Worker”. It is in many ways how Earl would have wished his house was at a young age; both his mum and dad appreciating his art and understanding the movement he was making. Although he never got this from his father, I would be very surprised if his Mum didn’t shed a tear to the record; heart and soul has gone into this, and I feel it was the LP Earl always wanted to make. Spare yourself an hour and give this a good listen; stream the album below.