In an interview with Clash magazine following the release of Doris, Earl Sweatshirt said: “I’m starting to sound like myself again. Doris is cool, but you can hear the doubt in my voice.” This was a very insightful comment for hip hop fans. His first project EARL was a constant punk sounding shock and ore roller coaster, whereas on Doris he got a grip of his obvious talent and channelled it into what he wanted to express. Even though he sounded like his urban music puberty had dropped, maybe it was a bit of a mixed bag. So this new album could be where Earl really finds himself? This is big then.
Now this album hasn’t been developed and released with the same expectation as maybe Earl’s previous work. He has always been OF’s prodigy child, but he has proved who he is and what he can do already. This new project is not about that. It’s about being himself and finding his true sound. Fans of his DOOM-esque free suggestion or Eminem-esque title-fight retort might have to find peace with the real Earl Sweatshirt on this album. He delivers with lethal precision and still blows your mind in what seems like very few words, on ‘Mantra’ he pronounces that;“Now you surrounded with a gaggle of 100 fucking thousand kids, who you can’t get mad at, when they want a pound & a pic, cause they the reason that the traffic on the browser quick, and they the reason that the paper in your trousers thick”.
Even within someone like Sweatshirt you can strike canyons between some of his work. If he casting his own unique stories, relating to that kid in the ‘burbs or even just flowing about murdering motherfuckers. Now this album seems to bring them together, switch between them and weave them together in a way which feels perfectly normal and natural to him. That’s what this album does. It makes him seem natural. He sounds like he is home from home on ‘Faucet’ and ‘Inside’, which are both matched with the eerie OF beats.
Again, with his lyrics the production is just himself, and that’s because it actually is. The whole album apart from Left Brain dropping in once is self-produced. This is like an artist who chooses their canvas, paint and view to splatter. You get the best result. The features are few but just right, any more than just the brief appearances from Dash, Vince Staples and Wiki would take this album from an insight into Earl’s soul to maybe a ‘try hard’.
Literally everything about this project just suits Earl. From its reasonably short 29 minute run time, to its lack of singles and lack of outstanding features, this all really plays to his strengths. He doesn’t have doubt in his voice anymore. He has confidence, but not just obscene cockiness. He has lyrical content, but not just long complex tales of what happened in Samoa. He has found himself, brilliantly.