BWW Reviews: EARL SWEATSHIRT's Debut Studio Album, 'Doris'
Earl is back! After a dark, gruesome debut independent album when he was 16, his mom shipped him off to a boarding school in Samoa. Before discussing the music, it is important to consider that Earl's mother is a professor at UCLA and his father, who left when Earl was a child, is a South African Poet Lauriate. Earl's mother was deeply offended by his 16-year-old musings, and felt that the best course of action was to send him to a boarding school that would allow him to mature, away from his friend, Tyler, The Creator, who seemed to be a bad influence.
His mom could not have been more wrong. When he returned, he was more mature, but his mom attempts to steer him away from dark, sometimes gruesome rap, had failed. This sets the stage for Doris, which is Earl's debut studio album. Over 2013 he dropped two or three singles. But, to be honest, the singles detract from the experience.
Listening to Doris, it becomes clear that the songs were made to be listened to in order. From the very beginning of "Pre" through the entire album, Earl Sweatshirt shows that he is an extremely talented rapper, and even a single like "Hive," which underwhelmed me when released, works very well within the framework of the album. Unlike many albums that focus on such dark subject matter, there are no weak songs. Some songs may be weaker than others out of context, but within the album's 15 song, 44 minute course, there are no weaknesses.
This album is so much more than the sum of its parts for that reason. While Earl's flow may not be entirely different, it has enough unique qualities to carry a full album. On top of that, he is a very strong lyricist. Where most rappers try to cater to radio on their debut studio albums, in order to increase sales success, Earl actually seems to try to avoid touchstones of the mainstream sounds, instead making music that shows the world who Earl truly is. He could have made a set of radio-ready songs that were good but nothing new. Yet, instead, he made a set of songs that will probably never be on the radio, because they are too thought provoking, too lyrical, and too dark. The album is all the better for that.
Where Tyler, the Creator's Wolf saw Tyler attempting to shed his gruesome rhymes in response to his newfound fame, Doris sees Earl both embracing the darkness and maturing at once. That's what makes this album so much more successful than Wolf. Doris is a resounding success that I highly recommend to anyone who loves Hip Hop and wants to hear a 19 year old, fantastic lyricist making great music.
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