Album Review: Earl Sweatshirt-Doris


17_earl
I’m really not trying to make album reviews a regular part of this blog cause, honestly, it’s weird reviewing music when you yourself makes music. The only other one I did was Kanye’s new album but I felt that was okay cause it was such an “event”. However, Earl is someone I’ve been pumping up on this blog since his very first video dropped. Unless your name is Despot (Who, for those who don’t know, is the most ear to the street human being alive) or you’re one of the tumblr nerds, I doubt you’ve been big upping Earl in a public forum as long as I have. It’s because of this I feel obligated to comment on the finished product that many of us have been waiting on since first laying eyes on the bug eyed little kid in the barber chair who could rap his ass off in the “Earl” video.

By now you should know his history and all the drama that surrounded him over the last few years. If not, Wiki that shit.
One note though, due to the amount of leaks this album had prior to it’s release, it’s kinda hard to sit back and see this album as cohesive. That’s not Earl’s fault really but more just a testament of how albums get put out nowadays. It’s like every thing needs to sound like a mix tape. this doesn’t , but still, I’d imagine if I heard all of these songs for the first time upon getting this album, I might have a different take on it.
Anyway, enough bullshitting, I’ll get right into it and do a song by song review of his Debut full length “Doris”.
(Because they’re apparently being really tight about posting this album on youtube, I’m having trouble finding links so here it is streaming if you care to play along…)
http://www.ventlyfe.com/publ/album_streams/earl_sweatshirt_doris_39_album_stream_39/2-1-0-193

Pre (Feat. SK La’ Flare)
I got issues with people setting their own albums off with verses by other people. While it has worked a few times in the past, this is not one of those cases. Mainly cause this dude SK La’ Flare is pretty mediocre. It’s almost as if this verse is there as a comparison for earl to look good next to for the rest of the album. It works on some level cause Earl comes in pretty hungry on this track. Beat wise, this song starts a theme that continues throughout the album. Beats that are okay. If Earl is dope on it, then the song is good, if he’s not, then it’s forgettable. That’s kinda the formula for much of this whole album.

Burgandy
This really should have been the intro/lead off song. It sets the table for exactly what you’re gonna get into. It’s a clearly depressed Earl self loathing over a choppy Neptunes beat. It’s got a less drastic “What’s up fatlip” vibe to it.

The dude either isn’t happy or he’s not into being a renowned rapper. The same way Tyler the Creator backlashed against his own notoriety, Earl seems to not wanna deal with the special powers he’s been given. Yeah, he’s a gifted rapper but I get the feeling he wishes he wouldn’t mind just rapping alone in a room to himself.

20 Wave caps (feat Domo Genesis)
I would have never Guessed Domo Genesis would emerge as the one Odd Future rapper from the early days that seemingly has the tightest grasp on making solid rap music. He’s more typical than Earl but he’s really tightened up his screws over the last few years. His energy kinda outshines Earl on this song even though Earl is clearly in a different league, mc wise. The beat is…okay. Again, another one of those “The rapping is gonna make or break it” kinda tracks.

Sunday (Feat Frank ocean)
Yeah, I don’t have time for the love jones ass tracks. I don’t doubt Earl is a sensitive man and has dealt with some girl issues. While he’s entitled to make these kinda tracks, I’ll stay skipping them until I die. Especially when done by 19 year old kids. I’m simply too old for that shit. But you probably aren’t so, have at this one.
Also, I like Frank Ocean….but his verse on this is like one of those Andre 3000 verses on R&B songs except it’s not very good. It’s not bad either. It’s more “who cares?”.

Hive (featuring Vince Staples)
This one sounds like it could have been on the first Earl Ep. Earl does really well over these super simple dark beats. But , let’s not avoid the elephant in the room, Vince staples murders this track. It’s funny cause I feel like Earl does better on songs that have guests on them. But, here, he simply can’t keep up with Staples energy. His mumblecore rap style just doesn’t match up with Staples swaggy shit.

Chum
This was the first song leaked. I like it. It’s the ramblings of a sad kid. Not to be confused with #sadboys. This is one of is his more personal tracks. You can even hear what sounds like pencils scribbling and pieces of paper being crumpled up in the back ground. Clearly, this one is a little deeper than many of the other tracks on the album. It’s basically a state of the union address for Earl’s headspace upon returning from his hiatus in Samoa. And that headspace? Cloudy with a chance of being overwhelmed by everything and possibly jumping off a bridge.

Sasquatch (Feat. Tyler the Creator)

Straight up, I can’t listen to Tyler any more. I don’t know if it’s him or me but, whatever it is, I hear that growl and just lose interest. His verse on this veers into a weird eminem like territory after he drops that line about Rihanna and Chris Brown. On the bright side, he seems to light a flame under Earl on this one. Earl’s verse is awesome. On, and that beat? Guess what? It’s…okay.

Centurion Feat. Vince Staples

The first start of this beat sounds like an outtake from one of the earlier Odd Future shit when Tyler did all the beats. Which isn’t good. Then, Boom! In comes a track that sounds straight off of a Kool G Rap album. For as badly as Staples blazed Earl on “Hive”, Earl makes up for it here. If there was a way to edit out the first part, this might be the best song on this entire album. At least for dudes who like “bars”.

Uncle Al
53 second song. how mad can you really be at it? This must have just been a verse he had laying around. I’m not mad at this but it’s kinda pointless.

Guild (feat. Mac Miller)
As part of Mac Millers image reconstruction, he’s doing tracks with all his favorite rappers and trying to rap like them. This is that. He does a decent enough job but, really, he simply doesn’t have much to say. He’s just getting better at saying nothing. Also, the last thing earl needs is his vocals pitched down. He already sounds like he’s sleep walking through the track so slowing it down only makes it seems like he’s barely breathing.#deathbedraps

Molasses (Feat Rza)
This is dope. The simple loop that screams “Wu-tang” seemingly breaths life into earls effortless/exhausted flow. As an old school dinosaur , it is nice to hear Earl rap over a sample like this. A whole album of this might be counter productive for a young relevant rappers career but , much like Kanye’s “Bound”, I’m pretty sure it’s secretly what we all were waiting to hear from Earl, production wise. Also, “I’ll fuck the freckles off your face, bitch” is a great hook.

Whoa (Feat. Tyler the creator)
This is kind of a forced hyped up track. Earl certainly kills it but I can’t help but think he’s not into these kinda tracks. Truth be told, he seems to prefer tracks where he can just sadly whisper his feelings. Maybe I’m reading into it too much though. Cause this song is as close to the song “Earl” as this album gets. The kids would say “he went in” on this one.

Hoarse
Now this seems like the kind of songs Earl wants to make. Emo, verbose, personal tracks with emotive beats. He sounds like a dude who either just finished crying or who is going to cry later in the day. I don’t mean it as a diss. This song is really good. In fact, if he’s gonna go the emo route, I wish he’s use this track as a playbook. He’s always sounded good over beats that have a feeling and, unfortunately, he decided to fill an album with beats that are…you guessed it..Okay. Emotive tracks really play so well of his lethargic rapping style. They seemingly connect the dots for him. Basically, he needs more this:

That’s his comfort zone that best puts his skills on display. The thing is, even when he’s on a more upbeat track and killing it, he just sounds more at home on depressing tracks where he’s allowed to rap about whatever he wants to rap about.

Knight (feat Domo Genesis)
This is a good farewell track. Domo does his thing. Earl does his thing. One problem, the slowing down the song thing seems like something that was a better idea on paper than in reality.

Overall, Earl made a solid underground rap album with above average rapping and beats that didn’t do him any favors. Sure, the audience may be more widespread and it might consist of people angry he didn’t rap more about rape but, to his credit, he seemed to make the album he wanted. That is to say, if he wanted to make an album at all. I can’t help but think that there’s an aspect to all this of a kid who’s very indifferent about his popularity and would rather be making demo’s in his bedroom for him and his friends than making music that will be judged by the entire internet. Earl is a great rapper. There’s not question about that. This album is very flawed but does show signs of what he’s capable of doing. The question I have is really “How much does he even want to do it?”. Hopefully, down the line, he’s figure out exactly what lane he needs to be in/feels comfortable it. He’s got the talent. All he needs is more focus (and high standards for beats).

40 thoughts on “Album Review: Earl Sweatshirt-Doris

  1. definitely surprised by how bland most of the beats were. but that rza track is gorgeous, earl was born to flow over that shit

  2. Kinda grumpy old man on this review. The beats on the illogic and Billy Woods albums would not stand up to this kind of scrutiny.

    • I didn’t shit on the beats. By scrutiny do you mean “having an opinion”? That’s kinda what reviews are, bro. The beats were…okay. A few really good ones mixed in with some less than good ones.

      Also, posts like this are why I was (and am) hesitant to review albums in general. Cause assholes feel the need to think I’m comparing what I’m listening to to what I make myself. It’s as if I can’t have a valid opinion on things cause I too make music. I’m an earl fan. What he does has no bearing on what I do. I have nothing to gain or lose by loving or not liking this album. You sound like a butt hurt little kid who’s mad I don’t think this album is amazing. It’s good. Is that not enough for you?

      • Because you shit on people, yet your stuff can be mediocre too. you really havent made a good album since coloring book imo

      • Did I shit on this album? Really? If you think so, You’re a sensitive man.
        When it all comes down to the root, this is all just content for my blog. I think this album is decent. Earl is great and I don’t love the ebats. What’s wrong with that OPINION? Is it really unthinkable?
        Also, My music has no bearing on that opinion. And if you think it does, you’re a fucking idiot.

      • wait, how did this turn into “let’s collectively shit on Blockhead”? this is HIS site/blog. although I think he’s a bit rough on some reviews, why feel the need to talk shit to him? on HIS site?? with HIS opinions?? that makes no sense. if you don’t like him/this blog, just stop reading his posts.

  3. I got a third of the way thru the LP last night, felt much the same way. Overall, underwhelmed, but still hopeful for lil dude’s future catalogue.

  4. I haven’t decided what to feel about Earl. I hate odd future thing and all fellas who try to be weird to get attention. For instance, WHOA; whatever they do they force themselves to add some something weird/odd you name it. For a reason, I want to separate earl from this movement. Maybe you are right about your ” Earl certainly kills it but I can’t help but think he’s not into these kinda tracks” observation. Tracks like chum, hive and lately I heard “Between Villains” joint really awesome and these kinda tracks are the main reason of questioning myself about Earl.

    • Sounds like you, and others, are over thinking it. It’s music. Enjoy it for what it is. Like I said, he’s a really good rapper. That plus decent beats equals something that it at least somewhat enjoyable.

      • I’m not saying he’s bad rapper. Whoever say he’s not good, totally their problems shadow their eyes not to show the reality. I’m always trying to see something from an objective view. Unless something bothers you about Earl, you wouldn’t make that kinda statement. You can also feel the quality of Earl but what make you bother is a fake movement he’s part of it. You also made another statement couple weeks ago about good rappers who make songs with the rappers they smoke with. It means you are thinking too. But this is not a judgement, you are thinking bcuz you got a brain works properly. Earl got high potential and he gotta go that way and we gon witness more verses like “Between Villains”.

  5. Earl still makes music? I honestly stopped caring about this guy about two years ago. He was dope like four years ago bud Odd Future is totally off my radar now. I think a big part of that was Tyler’s schtick. I honestly didn’t even care enough to read more than half this review. Earl came along at a time when there weren’t any new good rappers and now there a ton. Most of them have passed Earl to me.

    • You’re selling him a little short I think. Dude is still REALLY good at rapping. Why let your disdain for tyler dictate anything you feel towards Earl? They’re completely different rappers.

  6. It’s the sort of album that if I heard playing I wouldn’t mind listening to but I wouldn’t be diving at my iPhone to play it.

  7. This album is actually a very solid album. Earl is great and i feel a lot of people don’t want to like the album because of they hype surrounding it.
    Hoarse is the best track off the album imo..I agree, I hope he goes that route and makes more songs like that, it fits him

  8. I remember the first time I saw that “Earl” video (on this blog, the day you posted it) and I have been telling everyone I can about him every since. I actually enjoyed the album quite a bit. I think he had too many guest spots, and that was just because on every single song I was just waiting for Earl’s verse. But I really think “Sunday” is amazing and you should give it a solid chance. Something about Frank’s delivery on that song just rattles me every time I hear it.

    I completely agree on the beats though. I think he wanted a darker and more primitive sound on the beats, but he would really excel with some finished sounding tracks. I hope this was something he just had to get out of his system and is ready to take on rap and really hit his potential.

  9. I agree with your opinion pretty much 100%, all thoughts I had listening to it on Odd Future’s Soundcloud a few days ago, except “Hive” – I think Earl kills it. Sure, Vince is great, but I hate his “tough guy” lyrics. Same reason I can’t get into Freddie Gibbs. Overall, I like the album, but probably had too high of hopes after hearing Chum

  10. You wrote the review that I would have had I a reason to. Mostly lackluster beats and lots of lame guest raps, but Earl proves to be a better rapper than most at the moment. Definitely hoping for a non-OFWG album in the future.

  11. Okay so for those evaluative music reviews in general (not talking about your subjective/non-graded review)…

    I understand ratings like 7.0 or 8.5… but I do not understand Pitchfork! I just looked to make sure I’m right but their ratings are things like 6.2 or 7.4. That’s outta 10 right? Like they are actually assigning a grade of 62%, 72%, etc… to their album reviews? I don’t understand how this is possible. Do they have a grading system or algorithm I can see somewhere? I really don’t know a lot about Pitchfork or any of those things, I’m not being facetious

      • yes, Pitchfork provided the example -> http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/18380-earl-sweatshirt-doris/

        So 8.3…this reads as 8.3/10 – 83% to me. I get that Pitchfork is so extremely hipstery (whatever that even actually means) and they have played into it forever.

        But say hypothetically, I ran into a pitchfork reviewer at a party (they’d never actually talk to me don’t think haha), I would ask: “So I understand where you arrived at that eight outta ten – brilliant, but please enlighten me on how you arrived to that 3/10ths after the decimal point?…were you toying with 82 or 84% at one point?…etc” I don’t think these are crazy questions to ask. Pretty audacious (even for pitchfork) to use decimal points for a subjective thing like an album review when you can’t directly back them up, in my view.

  12. Just a very random thought here… do you think highly-invested Porn”Heads” (not the casual viewers but the ones who have gone really far with it )….obsess about “the golden age of PORN” in the same way that some hip-hop heads do?

    What is the “golden age of pornography” in your opinion?

  13. Let me start by saying I’m sorry I asked you to make album reviews haha

    I forget people who read blogs think thier responses have weight.

    2 fuck that one guy. Dour candy and the illogic lp was magma.

    I agree with the review anyways. Seeing as we are close in age it could be the way we hear music compared to what we grew up on

    The beats are subpar. But earl has a way of putting words together that make you feel kind of guilty for wanting to skip a track.

    Although whoa,chum,and hive were my fav tracks.

    Ps hugs

      • I’m sorry.

        If its worth anything. I think other musicians have the most honest view of music because they know what it takes to make it

        Syffal is great for that. Maybe you should join their writing team. I enjoy your reviews

        Ps blockhead has the magic ear.

      • I was just joking but part of the reason i’m hesitant to write more reviews is cause of people like a few of the commenters on this column.

        As someone who makes music, I do think there is something to be said about looking from the inside out. We’re inside the bubble so, obviously, we’re gonna have a different , more technical take on things. I just wish people could understand that just cause you make music doesn’t mean you ever stop being a fan of music and , in the same vein, it doesn’t make you stop judging music just the same. If anything, minus any personal agendas, musicians have the clearest insight on other peoples music. Trust me that I would never review an album I had any real investment in, positively or negatively.

  14. I really dug the advance tracks (Chum, Hive, and Whoa) so I’m actually pretty bummed that the rest of the album isn’t really living up. Hoarse is definitely the only real pleasant surprise, and the RZA track is nice although while they had him on the line they should have asked how to properly flip that sample on “Knight” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcNufjWI6Rg)

  15. I agree overall with the opinion about the album, but I’m not quite so bullish about Earl as a rapper. I think you’re right maybe he’d prefer to make weepy Chum type tracks (which I couldn’t stand), but i don’t think it fits his style at all, at least when it comes to making music I wanna hear. All the appeal of Earl is pretty much from his lyrics and I don’t think dude has the force of personality or charisma or whatever to pull off that weepy shit, especially with his somnolent flow.

    Also don’t let clowns keep you from talking about music, it’s way more interesting when dudes actually making stuff talk about it. Even if you disagree, you can see how other musicians think and what they’re looking for out of stuff. Also that Dour Candy was berserk, “Pro Wrestling” is probably my favorite track of the year.

  16. When you’re mentioning Hive, isn’t it Casey Veggies rapping on the last section? Vince Staples seems to only throw out a couple quick lines throughout the song?

  17. Cool review, man.

    now the question is… will you review also OLD? I’m so psyched about it, I hope it is as good as XXX and the hybrid

  18. thanks for the review block, fuck all the dicknoses that does not understand the fundamental idea of a review. peace

  19. I love hearing your opinion on albums. It’s a good thing. This was a far better review than ‘established music critics’ like Sasha Frere-Jones’, whose New Yorker writeup has to cater to the multitude of rap illiterate white folk. Doods who are lashing out for you saying your opinions about the album, and attacking your professional output for having an opinion aren’t worth worrying about. People who attack your music for talking about other music, are dumb knee jerk reactionaries that don’t help build anything constructive.

  20. Blockhead, man…don’t take people named Poo so seriously…or really anyone on the internet.

    This is a solid review that got me to listen to the album again after pretty much dismissing it on first listen so I really appreciate the review. Do more of these. You are hip-hop famous and because of that people want to know your opinion on hip-hop.

  21. the only thing wrong with this album is that it has any features at all. earl has too little material out for me to want to be skipping through his friends. someone should edit out all of the other rappers from this cd and make it into an earl rap mix. i’d enjoy it a lot more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s