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…)
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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).