Jakob's Album Reviews

Words About Music

Earl Sweatshirt – “Doris” – ALBUM REVIEW

Earl Sweatshirt “Doris”


In Patrick Rothfuss’ novel The Name Of The Wind, one of main character’s teachers tells him that there are seven words that you can say that will make anyone fall in love with you. Those words aren’t mentioned in that novel. I’d also like to think that there are seven words that you can say that will make anyone hate you. I believe those words are Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All.

For those not in the know (and I don’t think that would be very many of you), Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All—shortened to OFWGKTA or Odd Future—is a pretty big LA-based collective of rappers, singers, producers, artists, and hype-men, formed by de-facto leader and controversy-lover Tyler, the Creator. Tyler’s achieved quite a bit of fame for his three albums (“Bastard,” “Goblin,” and “Wolf”), his incredibly vulgar lyrics, and his offstage antics. One of the more adored members of the group is singer Frank Ocean, whose 2011 mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” and 2012 debut album “Channel Orange” both received universal acclaim. Frank made headlines when he came out as bisexual a week before releasing “Channel Orange.” However, the group’s most talked-about member in the hip-hop listening community is the elusive and incredibly verbose mysterious wunderkind that is Earl Sweatshirt.

Earl Sweatshirt dropped bars and cause critics to drop their jaws when he released his debut mixtape “EARL” in 2010, when he was only 16 years old. It was only 10 songs and ran at barely 30 minutes long, but it was all we needed to know that Earl was on his way to becoming the next big thing. That is, until he disappeared. His mother sent him to a boarding school for at-risk youth in Samoa until his eighteenth birthday, which was February of last year. His grand return was marked in the form of a verse on Odd Future’s 10-minute posse cut “Oldie” which appeared at the end of the collective’s “OF Tape Vol. 2.” Then in November, he dropped the first single, “Chum,” from what would be his debut album “Doris.” Well, nine months later and after a few delays, “Doris” is finally here, and it’s confusing the hell out of everybody.

Earl isn’t the first person to spit on “Doris.” The first verse on the first track, “Pre,” belongs to unknown rapper SK La’ Flare, and it’s not a very good verse. I’m not sure why he decided to let someone rap before he did (perhaps to prolong the wait until we actually heard Earl rap on “Doris;” some sort of joke), but it at least makes it that much better when Earl and his OF-affiliates lay down the rhymes.

The thing about “Doris” that may confuse or frustrate many OF-fans is the lack of references to violent acts that pervaded “EARL,” which makes sense since Earl already said he’d probably lose a lot of fans with this album. The beats are incredibly dark and minimal, and anyone expecting any sort of banger should probably just leave this album alone entirely.

I will say this about “Doris.” Some of the great guests are severely underutilized. While his OF friends see a whole lot of play on these tracks, people like RZA, The Alchemist, and The Neptunes are not used nearly well enough. RZA has a short hook and production credit on “Molasses,” The Alchemist produces “Uncle Al” which is under a minute long, and The Neptunes produce “Burgundy” which is barely two minutes long. I feel like some of these big-name guests could have been used in better and more interesting ways, while people like Vince Staples, SK La’ Flare, and Casey Veggies lay down verses I don’t really care to remember.

I will, however, praise Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, Domo Genesis, and BadBadNotGood on their contributions. Mac delivers a dreamy and slow-paced verse on “Guild;” Frank Ocean actually raps on “Sunday;” Tyler is stepping his game up lyrically for tracks like “Sasquatch;” Domo actually sounded like he cared on “20 Wave Caps;” and BadBadNotGood threw some excellent and odd production into “Hoarse.”

As much as this is going to polarize fans who fed too much into the overwhelming hype, I enjoyed this album as much as I thought I would, which was a hell of a lot. It’s absolutely better than Tyler’s “Wolf,” and, in my opinion, better than “EARL.” It’s full of the nonstop smooth flow that Earl is known for and a step in the right direction for both Earl and the Odd Future collective. Tyler, the Creator may be the leader of OFWGKTA, but I think we all know who the king of the group is.

SCORE – 9.1

FAVORITE TRACKS – Burgundy (ft. Vince Staples), 20 Wave Caps (ft. Domo Genesis), Sunday (ft. Frank Ocean), Hive (ft. Vince Staples & Casey Veggies), Chum, Sasquatch (ft. Tyler, the Creator), Uncle Al, Guild (ft. Mac Miller), Hoarse, Knight (ft. Domo Genesis)


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