When Earl Sweatshirt arrived on the scene properly with 2013’s LP Doris, he came with a freshness that permeated every output. He wasn’t your everyday rapper or artist, his words held power and pain and his style was unheard of at the time. Many quote him as the starting point of ’emo-rap’ but he was just cutting open himself so you could see the blood that pumped through his veins. Simple as that.
What followed was a mini stumble from grace. Despite the short and sweet tracks 2015’s I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside was certainly a move toward the mainstream. It offered a more palatable sound and lyrical content, it still sounded like Earl but an Earl who was looking for something more rather than moving to his own beat.
Happy to say that newest LP Some Rap Songs sees Earl returning to his peak. Offering a classic sound pushed through a glitched-out meat mincer the focus is back on the artist not what the art is supposed to be. As ever with art, this subversion of targets makes the arrow hit the bullseye much more swiftly.
From the first drop of ‘Shattered Dreams’ with a classic beat Earl let’s himself get lost in his own world and delivers an accurate reflection of it on the society we live in. The album follows suit and doesn’t move greatly from this sound. Simple, classic beats with a slightly off-beat delivery of personal and poignant lyrics are what made us love Earl and it’s what this album does brilliantly. At 15 track but 25 minutes long, the album has moved toward succinct songs rather than over complicated intricacies he once said “Flexing is being able to say the most with the least amount of words.” and he follows through on this LP.
One of the main issues tackled on the album is the loss of his absent father. It’s a delicate subject and one a lot of his fans would be able to feel on a more personal level. Earl manages to address it in an open and honest way and in truth should be given huge credit for leading the way in a scene where so many rappers hide what makes them hurt.
When speaking with Vulture Earl said the album was “Just the concept of brevity. I’ve become … It’s been made evident to me that I’ve become kind of obsessed with simplifying shit, which sometimes can lead to oversimplification. People take a lot of liberties, I feel like. Incomplete shit is really stressful to me, and the concept of unsimplified fractions is really stressful to me.”
The album is a reflection of Earl’s last few years, a period of time where he has lost not only his father but his longtime friend and collaborator Mac Miller as well, and also has a new collaborative group to work with. Because of this, the music is moved on, the grief he’s felt is expressed either explicitly or subtly, and his maturation as an artist is accelerated because of it.
Some Rap Songs shows that Earl Sweatshirt is still a man in control of his own destiny and it’s one we want to watch, with his permission.
Simply put, as it should be, it’s dope.