Earl Sweatshirt has been free for some time now, enough that he’s on his second full-length release. Good work, everyone!
Just kidding. Earl uses one of the best tracks on his major label debut to tell Complex magazine (who “found” him) and all those people who threatened his mom on the internet that it was really not cool: “Supposed to be grateful, right? Like, ‘Thanks so much, you made my life harder, and the ties between my mom and I are strained and tightened even more than they were before all of this shit.’ Been back a week and I already feel like calling it quits.” Over the thump and buzz of the bass and the simple but soulful piano line of “Chum,” he also covers his absentee dad and the drugs and crime of his childhood. It’s emotionally honest and direct — a far cry from the violent scenes he used to paint.
Doris is splattered with confessional lines, but it’s not devoid of horror, angsty grumbling or just ridiculousness. Look no further than “Whoa” (and enjoy it despite better judgment). Tyler, the Creator makes a Chris Brown and Rihanna joke on “Sasquatch,” which isn’t so shocking. Then RZA shows up to say he’ll “fuck the freckles off your face, bitch,” and that’s just hard to deal with. Funny, maybe? In an absurd way? It’s just that you expect him to elevate things, not regress to a teenage mindset. Then again, the OFWGKTA horror-rap thing sort of makes sense as a younger reincarnation and perversion of Wu Tang (in which Samurai flicks become prank shows).
Even among the crowd of guests — Frank Ocean, Mac Miller, Domo Genesis, Vince Staples, SK La’ Flare — Earl’s notorious flow stands out. He’s still the yin to big brother Tyler’s yang, with trudging, no-fuss beats and rapping that’d be impressive for someone with years of practice on him, let alone a teenager. And the whole while, he’s unflinchingly calm and poised.
There’s hardly a hook, and not one of these tracks is the kind of thing you’ll crank up at a party. It’s moody, insular and deftly executed. Earl makes working out his shit sound good.