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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Album Review: Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Some Rap Songs’

December 17, 2018
After a 3 year hiatus, Earl Sweatshirt returns with a raw soundscape of deep rooted poetry...

Some Rap Songs (SRS) is Earl’s 3rd studio album, and arguably his most complete work to date. The unmixed and barely mastered vocals on these songs create a muddy feel, similar to ‘Molasses’ from Doris, and a great deal of music by MF DOOM. SRS has been coined as Earl’s Madvillainy, and the similar production isn’t the end of it. Earl’s flow transcends the usual confines of rhythm and enters the same realm as MF DOOM’s on this album. It seems Earl has accepted his place as less than a mainstream success, and yet he still does not follow the “boom-bap” New York model. Earl is in a unique space, no longer a monster of the underground rap scene.

Earl Sweatshirt – Shattered Dreams (Official Audio)

Listen and download SOME RAP SONGS: http://smarturl.it/SomeRapSongs Get SRS Merch & Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/SRSstore http://earlsweatshirt.com http://insta…

The separation from the hip-hop landscape begins in the song ‘Shattered Dreams’, which contains the first of Earl’s peace filled and fragmented poems. There’s a melancholy gentleness which is uncharacteristic of his music typically. He then delivers an even greater sense of poetic action in ‘Red Water’; the hook becomes a refrain and the wailing sample in the background of the track pushes Earl in a more sombre direction, despite his increased assertiveness in delivery. He also revisits a sample from his previous work Solace, where we saw perhaps the first snippets of looser formed raps from Earl. This time however, he seems to have mastery over the beat, as opposed to wallowing in it.

Earl Sweatshirt – Red Water (Official Audio)

Listen and download SOME RAP SONGS: http://smarturl.it/SomeRapSongs Get SRS Merch & Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/SRSstore http://earlsweatshirt.com http://insta…

Track 3 is where the album truly begins for fans who had hoped for Earl’s characteristic slick flows and domination of a beat. On ‘Cold Summers’ Earl enters an unrelenting pocket, which becomes an enchanting, head-bopping incantation. This spell doesn’t drop until we reach ‘Ontheway!’, with it’s decidedly happier beat. We get a sliver of Odd Future era Earl in his vocal inflection on this track, before returning to the sweet depressive melancholy we know him to consistently deliver on ‘The Mint’ (aided by a well-placed short feature from Navy Blue). He more directly enters the topic of life in his area of California, but again enters a bewitching flow, with rhymes upon rhymes.

Earl Sweatshirt – Cold Summers (Official Audio)

Listen and download SOME RAP SONGS: http://smarturl.it/SomeRapSongs Get SRS Merch & Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/SRSstore http://earlsweatshirt.com http://insta…

That said, Earl loses a certain level of magic in the second half of the album. The only standout track left is ‘Azucar’, with it’s love for Black women and its incredibly pretty metaphors. We do get the sense that Earl is “going through it like prayers in the night sky” from all the remaining tracks. However it is a soft knock rather than the hard punch we would expect from the end of an album so eagerly awaited by everyone. Fans may be grateful that Earl’s approach to emotion is a lot more mature on this album, for the sake of his health, but the darkness of I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside and the anger of Doris may be sorely missed by those expecting a heavier hitting listen.

Earl Sweatshirt – Azucar (Official Audio)

Listen and download SOME RAP SONGS: http://smarturl.it/SomeRapSongs Get SRS Merch & Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/SRSstore http://earlsweatshirt.com http://insta…

As mentioned before, Earl does touch upon his life growing up LA (a topic we can assume is better addressed on the ‘New earlsweathsirt – Interlude’ snippet from Vince Staples’s recent Project FM!). The bulk of this album however, much like his previous work, places emphasis on the introspective. The influence of the passing of Earl’s father, the poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile is directly felt through his feature on ‘Playing Possum’ with Earl’s mother. This is a tender moment, but perhaps even more tender are the instrumental moments on the album. On ‘Riot!’, and the end of ‘Ontheway!’, we’re left with only the incessantly hopeful whining vocals and brass sections, an emotive mix. There is an acknowledgement of sadness here, without the usual wallowing we get from Earl.

Earl Sweatshirt – Ontheway! (Official Audio) ft. Standing On The Corner

Listen and download SOME RAP SONGS: http://smarturl.it/SomeRapSongs Get SRS Merch & Vinyl: http://smarturl.it/SRSstore http://earlsweatshirt.com http://insta…

There is, all in all, a certain beauty to this album. These rap songs fall together as a fuzzy image, a vhs tape flickering on the screen that is Earl’s career.

Some Rap Songs

Listen to Some Rap Songs on Spotify. Earl Sweatshirt · Album · 2018 · 15 songs.

Words, Kareem Tai Bowman – @kareem.bowman