#15 Album of The Year: Earl Sweatshirt- Doris

Posted: December 20, 2013 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , , , ,

Earl Sweatshirt’s entrance into the hip-hop world was an abnormal one, and it certainly created a flurry about the release of his 2013 debut studio album Doris. When Odd Future first stepped forward in the spotlight, a ton of attention circulated around Earl after many claimed him as the most lyrically gifted in the group, especially after the release of his cult classic Earl mixtape back in 2010. But right when OF blew up, Earl was nowhere to be found as he was sent to Samoa in boarding school exile until his behavioral problems were corrected. Upon his return, many wondered if the elusive teenage emcee would live up to the high expectations, and the hype that built around Doris was almost unfair for Earl to deal with.

At the end of 2012, some of our questions were answered when Earl released the lead single “Chum”, which was a highly introspective record that showcased Earl addressing his journalistic goldmine of a story and the serious issues he had faced over the last year. This was the most personal and direct Earl had ever been on a track, and the excitement behind Doris built up even more. The rape and serial killer shock values rhymes from Earl took a departure, and with the release of one single his growth as an artist was on display.

Doris as a whole is a bit jumbled, but the complexity of Earl’s rhyme schemes borders on masterful. The technical wordplay possessed by Earl is uncanny for someone his age and Doris is jam-packed with bars that will have you over at RapGenius trying to decipher his rhymes. While some may see that as a fault, Earl does stick to the themes of career pressures, drug use, and family issues as a base for the listeners to rely on in case they get lost in the mix. Songs such as the Frank Ocean featured “Sunday” and “Burgundy” explore these themes, while other tracks like “20 Wave Caps” and  “Guild” feature Earl rapping his ass off with a disregard for an assigned subject matter.

Many of the tracks on Doris clock in at under 3 minutes, but Earl Sweatshirt is able to paint his dark poetic pictures within the time frame and his friends are along for the ride. Fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator, big brother of sorts to Earl, lends a chaotic yet guiding hand on “Whoa”and other guests such as Domo Genesis, Mac Miller, and Vince Staples all bring a welcomed variety to Earl’s repetitive yet effective delivery. Nevertheless, the production on Doris propels the darkness Earl’s rhymes ooze with and Earl himself deserves part of that credit as he goes under the moniker of randomblackdude when behind the boards. But Earl does bring some well-seasoned veterans to aide him in creating Doris’s dreary soundscape such as RZA and The Neptunes; not too shabby having those legends take part in the crafting of your debut LP.

Although it is ridiculous to term Doris as a comeback album, that is how it was treated and in that respect the project is a great success. We entered the project knowing that Earl Sweatshirt is a great lyricist and after one listen, it is clear he is that and even more. In a fitting analogy, Earl’s talent wasn’t just a hallucination from a few years back before he was sent away as Doris enhances the validity of Earl as the “MF-Doom” of Odd Future, an ever so popular comparison nowadays. Doris will probably be the shortest yet exhausting listen of your life if you aren’t prepared for the magnitude of rapping on display and it isn’t the “classic” some were expecting, a term that is overused in this era in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is a strong debut body of work that is a giant step in the right direction for Earl and his promising career.

Listen to the album below via Spotify and let us know what you think of it as well as our ranking!

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