Some Rap Songs - Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt who rose up from Odd Future fame has only garnered more and more respect from the Hip-Hop community with each album release. He started off being more abrasive and offensive but has matured to make more emotionally deep and abstract music, pushing the boundaries of experimental Hip-Hop and inspiring other artists. Currently he is held in very high esteem as a wordsmith within the Hip-Hop community as we await his alleged collaborative album with The Alchemist. Some Rap Songs is Earl's third studio album and many people heil it as a groundbreaking classic, and an all-time great.
The introduction to the LP, Shattered Dreams kicks the album off with a muffled and monotone delivery from Earl, while a minimalist instrumental of just a looped sample and drum pattern underscore him. Earl raps about the hardships he faced growing up and how they affected his outlook on life. Shattered Dreams serves as just the beginning to this journey through Earl's mentally tormented mind. In the following Red Water Earl comes across even more distorted in his delivery. The instrumental is choppy and features a haunting vocal sample which only helps build the depressing and unhinged atmosphere. Despite the worldbuilding, Red Water is a weaker song on the record as Earl just reiterates a chorus for most of the track's short runtime.
On the following track, Cold Summers, Earl picks up his flow with a more clear delivery and brings some life to an album that has felt so devoid of it so far. Nowhere2go has the most complex instrumental thus far, and it sounds like pure chaos. In this nauseating environment Earl dimly raps about how he feels like he's been depressed for awhile and it's all he can think about, and as he tries to reinvent himself in attempts of feeling better. December 24's instrumental is home to the loudest and most clear we have heard Earl on this record yet, as he raps with a lot more passion in his delivery compared to prior tracks. He raps about alcoholism and the negative effects of drug use on him, but with a run time of only a minute and forty six seconds this track feels more like a derivative rant than the lyrical masterpiece it could've been.
The instrumental for Ontheway! has a soulful sample and is emotionally dense as well as being home to one of Earl's best verses on the album as he balances his distorted, grey while managing to be really passionate. He puts on a great lyrical performance with vivid storytelling about what he's been up to lately, and there is a beautiful, slowed outro. The Mint's instrumental has a nice piano and a solid guest verse from Navy Blue with a muffled delivery, like most of the other tracks on here. Once again Earl is rapping more clearly on this track as he drops bars about how his deep mental struggles have taken a toll on the quality of his life. On The Bends Earl flows pretty smoothly and the instrumental has a nicely layered vocal sample. He raps about how he bends but doesn't break and talks about some of the good and more exciting times in his life.
Loosie features a villainous instrumental, Earl's delivery is ominous and the combination creates a holistically dark undertone to the track, which only broadens the theme of the album. Earl also delivers some great rhymes on this cut. The next track is Azucar transitions seamlessly from Loosie with another amazing sample and Earls' delivery sounds just like TV static, with the track sounding like directive confusion. However this track, rapping wise, is one of Earl's best ever, which I know is a big statement considering his sheer skill. His lyricism and storytelling are great as he's able to illustrate a clear picture of his depression and how it affected his thought process. Eclipse is another chaotic track from the upbeat sounding sample and instrumental but Earl drastically contradicts it with his drab and unclear delivery and downright depressing lyrics. He raps about how he has eclipsed in the sense of going from light to dark, and open to being closed off from the world.
Earl uses vivid imagery in his lyrics as he raps over an intricate instrumental on Veins. He raps more about his melancholic lifestyle and self destructive habits, while making one of the most captivating songs on the album. Playing Possum is a vocal recording of Cheryl Harris and Keorapetse Kgositsile thanking everyone in their lives for everything and for being there for them, which is a fitting interlude as Earl finds himself unable to say it himself. Peanut is an awkward addition as it is a track with no instrumental and it just sounds desolate. Earl's flow is chopped and off kilter and there is some depth to his lyrics but the song as a whole doesn't go over well. Riot is the perfect instrumental closing to the album. The guitar and drums come together perfectly in a way that conveys a lot of emotion without saying anything. The trumpets on the latter half add a feeling of false triumph, and as the beat distorts it feels like a depressing and twisted "That's All Folks".
Some Rap Songs is such a hard record to describe as there is more to say about it then the album actually says itself. This album is intentionally a mess, as it is indicative of Earl's state of mind which is clear through his intricate and vivid penmanship. Not to mention the great world building through the obscure, intense, confusing and dark production that gives us a glimpse into Earl's tormented psyche. The production is certainly unique and good at setting the tone but it is not the greatest in all cases, making this a case where experimental doesn't automatically equate to greatness. Earl is one of the best lyricists around but the short run time of the album and even shorter songs prevent what are mostly great ideas from developing into full blown concepts. Some Raps Songs is definitely one of the more important albums to come out in the last five years, but I think it's overrated in how great it is by some people.