Earl sweatshirt dropped a nice blend of lo-fi avant garde jazz and dark hip hop lyrics to make a sound of his own in the current realm of experimental hip hop.
Earl sweatshirt is considered an underground legend. His two albums, Doris and I Don’t Like S**t; I Don’t Go Outside; are critically acclaimed, pitchfork considers them some of the best hip hop albums of the decade. The main great appeal of Doris and IDLSIDGO is how raw Earl’s music is, and natural and unforced the meaningful lyrics about his mental health, being affected by his upbringing, parent’s divorce, and depression although his life.
Earl tackles even more challenges on this album, from new topics like the death of his father, pleasing other people, leeches, fake friends, depression and the cancelling of his 2016 tour and break from music due to depression. This appeal of rawness comes in full form with these lyrics, on his most beautiful production yet. On songs such as “Eclipse” and “NoWhere 2go”, rapping about how trapped he feels in the current rap and his own social landscape; “The Bends” and “Veins” rapping about his relation with his parents, and his dad’s passing. The most experimental and emotionally provoking song is “Playing Possum” where earl chops in samples of his mom speaking about the things she is most thankful in life while a sample of earl’s dad is played in a “call and response” type format where the dad shouts out about the dark and bad things in life. Whether or not you like the format of the talking side of music, it will definitely provoke some sort of emotion, as strong as it might be.
The production on the album is another main selling point on this album. The production is airy, lo-fi, and has a strained-but-smooth aesthetic to it. While it would seem the slightly uplifting production on this album would clash against the dark lyrics, it instead works perfectly to produce the main selling point of this album- how natural, casual, and scarily non-forced aspect of the topics of this album.
The easy going, natural, laid back approach to how he talks about mental health is scarily eery. When he talks about not trusting his own family on “Nowheretogo” followed behind with lo-fi electro-synth chords in the background, it all seems so real and you can actually feel what he is saying in his words, as miniscule as he makes himself appear. Earl undersells the project (with the album cover, name, and tracklist being short), but provides us with the realism of his mental health.
This album is a good slap in the face to the fake depressed rappers such as x or lil peep who over exaggerate their state which just at the end comes as disingenuous to the people who actually have mental issues and more of just appealing to that group of people.
Overall, this may be one of the best albums of the year if not the best, and other reviewers agree.
Stay tuned for more of AntLaB22’s Music Reviewer Reviews!