The master of metaphorical writing, the poet within Los Angeles, the refugee of the concrete waves; Earl Sweatshirt is a cultural phenomenon. From the opening lines of his earliest work on Earl with distorted faces and violent rap lines that bordered on horrorcore. Then the sophomore and junior releases of Doris and I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside which quickly captivated young and old heads alike for its quick witted wordplay, vibrancy of production, and the storytelling elements of a young god.
Now, Earl Sweatshirt is a seasoned veteran who has come off a few world tours, seen the rivers and waterways of different homelands, and drawn influence not from the shadows of America, but the sunlight that shines off the ocean in a golden hour. Sweatshirt is more mature than his previous releases, stemming into something that feels more relatable to him and more everlasting.
If club hits and 808’s are your bread and butter, Some Rap Songs is definitely not going to please you. And it really does not have to either, Sweatshirt is a real man of his own adventure that takes very little but an MPC and some vintage samples to create a trans-continental journey that demands attention to detail as his writing schemes.
It was immediately apparent from the unreleased tracks that were floating around YouTube and Soundcloud that Earl Sweatshirt was a changed man since Doris. The willingness to experiment with sound and move progressively by reaching back into the past with these overarching samples of dusty records that have not seen the light since JFK was still around. It was these style of J Dilla, MF DOOM, and even his partner in crime Knxwledge that almost influences Some Rap Songs to touch the loops and make a positive reach into something that describes Sweatshirt as an entity.
The bars are still cold on Some Rap Songs, but here he is realistic and speaks from a heart that has seen some triumph and some pain. It is the similar range that has nods to his previous releases, but this is a brighter horizon into the abstract and more jazz-influenced styling’s that clasp the last bit of food hanging on the hook. Earl Sweatshirt is more often than not rhyming about self-preservation within the jungles of life. “My mood really swinging, I peruse like a native would do. What I’m thinking I should do for the sake of myself… See you shooting but your angles is trash, don’t play with us, I revisit the past” Earl rhymes on the track “Ontheway!” which features New York’s own Standing On The Corner.
On another cut “Azucar”, Sweatshirt describes “Please get ya alibi straight, you ain’t gotta lie. Shook tradition, did it my way, no sense in looking in the sky. Trace element meddle with minds” which then leads into “Eclipse” with little in means of a break. The fascinating thing about Some Rap Songs is it feels unfamiliar after each listen and continues to warp as if the record shifts and contorts in a million ways even after over multiple listens per day since its release.
The final track however is a closing instrumental that holds some substance behind it. The vinyl cracking is a last call to the monumental 15-track saga that holds 24-minutes. Some Rap Songs may have surprised Earl fans for not being the exact release of fast rhymes and cutthroat approaches. The imagery however, of the sinking sun while a more mature commander of music stares off into the sunset, dreads hanging, with a wide open smile feels better than the depressed and broken showcases we had before.
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