Friday, July 29, 2011
Earl Sweatshirt - Earl (Review)
A famous name that's been circulating through hip hop blogs across the nation (with the exception of 2DopeBoyz & NahRight) and several troubled teenager's iPods, is Thebe Kgositsile. Thebe? Doesn't ring a bell? Maybe because you probably better recognize him by his stage name Earl Sweatshirt. When I first heard of him months ago, I could only assume from what small information I had of him that he was part of the movement that is ruining rap today and the reason Nas said those 4 dreaded words. I decided to skip on him after listening to a small snippet of him and going "Ehh...".
3 long months later...while shooting the stuff with my friend we started talking about rappers who suck, aka Wack Rappers, and the topic of the Illuminati comes up (Damn conspiracists..), and my friend sends me a link to a music video and warns me: "My brother's friend showed me this, it's real, and this guy is devil music right here." This would eventually become to the video that opened my eyes to Odd Future and had me falling for them. It was the music video to Earl, by Earl Sweatshirt.
Now, when I first saw this video, I was shocked and keep in mind that your talking to a person that's seen all those stupid internet meme videos such as 2 Girls 1 Cup and BME Pain Olympics and laughed it off and moved on with life. But this video seemed so real, so raw, so vivid. Some of the best filmmaking I've seen in a while. This video however, upon the first time viewing it, and while under the impression that all of it was real, freaked me the hell out. And due to the fact that I was so focused on the content of the video rather than the man rapping in the background, my first impression of Earl was that I hated the kid. But, I kept watching the video over and over again, something was drawing me to it more and more, then I began actually listening to the lyrics. The kid was dope. He's the offspring of an African poet for crying out loud, how couldn't he be?
After watching and appreciating the video at least 32321323 times, I figured it was time to look more into this guy, turns out, the poor kid has been missing for about a year now (Yes, I know all the rumors and where he is, but I'm not getting into that, I have a review to do). But he did leave one small thing for us to enjoy until he comes back.
What's that? Why, yes that's correct little Jim, he left us an album! Now, me myself however, I don't consider it an album, it's more of an EP, because albums don't clock in at only 26 minutes. Eh, I'll let this one slide, he was only 16 when it dropped and it's his debut. And let me say...when he comes back, it's gonna be hard to top this. I'm ready to call this album the Illmatic of the 21st century.
Thebe's album contains guest appearances and primary production from Odd Future, which one might call the "West-Coast Wu-Tang Clan". Tyler, the Creator, supposedly his stepbrother, produced most of the tracks on this album, with the exception of two, and you'll be able to tell which two, Tyler's style is much more distinctive than that of other producers, and is actually turning producing into the artform it used to be, until people started trashing hip-hop with their horned-up Fruity Loop's Vol. 9 Producers Edition XXL Beats.
Earl was digitally released for free download on Odd Future's website, and was met with much critical acclaim from hip hop bloggers across the nation (However once again, not from 2DopeBoyz or NahRight). His distinctive natural flow and poetic style where were he drew most compliments and praise from, and praise he deserved! However, many viral videos and a drugged-up music video later...he disappeared from the music scene. Once again, not getting into that story.
Let's get into this now, shall we?
1. Thisniggaugly (Feat. Tyler, the Creator) - Nothing much to gleam about on this one, other than a shorter than short rap from Tyler. Earl isn't even present on this track for crying out loud. Typical rap album intro. Sigh.
2. Earl - With that controversial music video, this is the song that he will most definitely be known for. For the first time on the album, we get to see what Earl is truly made of, and he's actually able to hold it together and give us a hot 2 verse over a dope Tyler beat. The production to this is truly amazing that I had the beginning bass pump looped over as a separate instrumental. Oh yeah, can't forget to mention that the line "...gobbles it, like fat, Black b****** & Catfish..." had me cracking up a bit. But seriously though, that video was crazy.
3. Couch (Feat. Tyler, the Creator) - One of my favorites on this album, Tyler and Earl spit back and forth for 2 verses resulting in the murder of Earl by Tyler. Great production and wordflow on this track. This is usually the song people show their friends when they mention Earl to them and they go, "WHAAAAT?"
4. Kill - Earl will not tolerate what Tyler did on the previous track and retaliates on this track. I never honestly dug this track...but still, it's a banging track, and a bit modest on the production. This had the potential to be a better track, but oh well, we can't get everything we want, right? Somewhere right now Miley Cyrus is crying her eyes out.
5. Wakeupfaggot - Skit. But a funny one at that. A funny one.
6. Luper - This is another favorite. This song has something that most rap songs lack nowadays. Heart. Earl raps about a certain girl he has a liking for...but just can't come to terms with it. The first lines of this song are bound to be an anthem for lazy teens across the world. Amazing what Earl can spit and get accomplished in just 1 second short of 2 minutes right?
7. epaR (Feat. Vince Staples) - Yes, my friend, that is Rape spelled backwards. I think Redrum when I see that. The song has the sound of a club single (and the hook of one too may I add) but a minute into the song will remind you that this is far from your average radio raps. I gotta appreciate also as well that Earl gave props to Eminem in this song ("I'm zoning on Relapse, she's sliding in Blueprint"). Vince comes and goes on this song, nothing too memorable. But then again, compared to most new hip hop nowadays, he's pretty good on this.
8. Moonlight (Feat. Hodgy Beats) - This is true poetry right here. The most beautiful rap song I've ever heard (Despite the rape references and "hocking loogies in a Bible" line). The introduction to this song is just killer and Earl raps at his finest (in a Screwed voice) that I've heard from him. Hodgy, another fellow member of Odd Future is great on here, and can keep up with Earl and keep the melodramatic mood on this song. As of right now, this song takes place for the most played song on my iTunes library (48 plays as of right now) and is my favorite Earl song. It's so good, that I re-watched Batman after listening to this.
9. Pigions (Feat. Tyler, the Creator) - Couch (Version 2.0). Basically another EarlWolf cut, going back and forth with each other, which is something I've taken a great fondness and liking to. The little interlude in the middle was unnecessary however and was only included probably for the sole purpose of stretching out this track. Other than that, another solid track with great lyrics and production. Tyler doesn't kill Earl on this is you guys were wondering by the way...
10. Stapleton - It's time to say goodbye to our friend Earl, it was fun having him around for the past 26 minutes, but all good things must come to an end. Earl drops a solid 3 verse which is actually the longest he's ever rapped consistently on a track. The production here once again, is great. But while this track is just great, it's overshadowed by the greatness in the 9 tracks that came before it and is easy to forget. What a great ending to a great album.
The Final Word - For years, I've been asking record shop clerks for a rapper I might enjoy for my taste (which is primarily Eminem) and all they could come up with is D12, which is Eminem's posse. But I may have to stop asking that question, because it seems that I've found the long awaited answer to this question. This kid has a lot of potential, and will without a doubt change the game when he comes back from wherever he is. He has a flow and way with words that I've seen on nobody. Nobody. All fans of rap should download this and appreciate this for what it is. Great production, great lyrics, hell, I even enjoyed the skit on this! What more could you ask for? Yeah, I know, longer runtime, but other than that?!
If you enjoyed this album, I recommend:
Nas - Illmatic (Both albums were 10 tracks and relatively short, and established the style and flow of each artist solidly.)
Tyler, the Creator - Bastard (Another great debut album from a member of the OFWGKTA with solid production which I will get to reviewing sometime in the near future...)