Whenever I talk about my enjoyment of Tyler, The Creator’s music, it usually comes with caution and a defensive attitude for trying to praise someone who’s been called a homophobe, a misogynist and an immature individual.
With Earl Sweatshirt’s release of “Doris,” I never felt the need to justify why I liked him. “Doris” is dark and gritty, but in a more mature, introverted way that Tyler seems to be lacking.
The only time the word “faggot” is used is by Frank Ocean in a reference to his altercation with Chris Brown’s defamatory language against a recently outof- the-closet Ocean. On “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside,” Earl continues to grow and completely leaves any association with Odd Future behind.
Which is a good thing, because, as Tiny Mix Tape’s review of Tyler’s “Wolf” puts it, “Even if there is a shit ton of ‘disclaimers’ laced throughout his material, Tyler’s choice of vocabulary still packs enough punch to leave people feeling a little twisted for appreciating the music.”
The album was prematurely announced a week before its release. Earl told National Public Radio that his label messed up the announcement. Still, it follows a trend of surprise releases we’ve seen this year in hip-hop from Kendrick Lamar to Drake, and it is a welcomed one at that.
The following day, a video for his new single “Grief” was released. Shot in black and white, it features Earl rapping on a couch about the loss of his grandmother who he was too busy to visit, while feeling pressure to drop “Doris” over a muffled grimy lo-fi beat.
Just like Tyler, Earl is at his best when he’s most personal, and “Grief” is most closely related to “Chum” (the lead single on “Doris”) as we see Earl open up and spill everything that has been on his mind.
Other album highlights include “AM//Radio,” which continues the sonic muddy organ production of album opener “Huey” and talks about Earl’s early days before being shipped off to Samoa.
“Inside” is the follow-up track where Earl explains he missed out on Odd Future’s rise to fame when he was overseas and was left behind. Things haven’t been the same since he’s been back, but he’s carving his own path, one that does not involve Odd Future.
Every track on the album is self-produced by Earl under his alias randomblackdude, save Left Brain’s “Off Top,” which is something I wish we would see more of in mainstream hip-hop.
The beats continue Earl’s palette for off kilter jazz filled with organs, down tempo drums and an overall melancholy vibe. The album reaches some bleak moments, but given Earl’s backstory, it comes from an authentic place.
Earl recently mentioned this is the first thing he’s done that he fully supports.
But he’s still a kid trying to gauge his place in this world as a 20-something-year-old, losing relationships that helped bring him into fame (whether he likes it or not).