Album review: Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but don’t let this freaky pic of Earl Sweatshirt affect your judgement of his new album, Doris. The LA-based rapper’s new album has been long-awaited and he appears not to have disappointed the majority of critics. I, however, am unsure whether Doris lives up to its hype. The album features other members of the OFWGKTA crew, as well as Frank Ocean and a track produced by Pharrell. I guess I was expecting the underground hip hop prodigy to deliver something a little more, well, sophisticated.

Both the production and lyrical content leave something to be desired on this album – Simplicity is Earl’s tactic and it works for a couple of the tracks, but there’s a distinct lack of consistency on Doris. There are a few exceptions to the rule- ‘Hoarse’ is a great track, and ‘Guild’ (ft. Mac Miller) opens with a slow, insular synth loop evocative of Sweatshirt’s style on mixtapes Earl and Kitchen Cutlerywhile he raps effortlessly over in a pitched-down, drugged-out haze. Mac Miller isn’t too bad on this track either, although he’s nothing special.

Similarly, ‘Molasses’ (ft. RZA) features excellent production, however I cannot really commend the lyrical content – the hook is ”I fuck the freckles off your face bitch”, repeated over and over again. In a way, this is where Earl Sweatshirt (and certain other notable members of Odd Future Gang) falls short for me. I understand that they are 18-19 years of age and kings of the underground hip hop scene, but one hopes that a rapper as prolific as Earl would be able to produce an album with a little more complexity in their lyricism, rather than relying on denouncing women in sexually explicit ways in practically every track.

Doris doesn’t quite live up to the previous mixtapes in my opinion, but that said, I’m always excited to hear what Earl Sweatshirt will do next – his effortless, caramel voice lagging just behind the beat never fails to move me.

Although the release is not scheduled to hit stores until 20 August, you can stream the entirety of Doris here off OFWGKTA’s website.

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