Earl Sweatshirt: “Some Rap Songs” Album Review

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After a three year hiatus from the hip-hop spotlight, LA rapper and word-weaver Earl Sweatshirt slinks back into the frying pan with his third studio album, “Some Rap Songs.” An album foreshadowed by his frequent collaborator Vince Staples’ latest album, “FM!”, this project marks a new era in the artist’s career and life.

From the get-go, Earl’s artistic style has ranged from manic, grimy, and near-comical graphicness to hopelessly bleak and miserable, the latter of which has been expressed to extreme extents on his last three albums, notably on “I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside.” While that same somber theme remains evident in “Some Rap Songs,” Earl has put a fresh experimental twist on his latest project in a way that he’s never before expressed. Earl seems almost oblivious to his own beats as he half raps and half vents onto each short yet powerful track. Earl’s break from his usual style is most easily observed in his production, largely done by himself under his producer alias, randomblackdude. Other producers on the project include Daryl Anthony, Adé Hakim, Denmark, Black Noi$e, Elesser, and Shamel of SOTC .

Chopped up and looped jazz samples act as a backdrop for stories about new and old topics for Earl: his personal life, mental state, relationships with family and others, and even at times alluding to his days in the now-defunct hip-hop conglomerate, Odd Future. His attitude towards his somewhat-absent father switches from one of bitter contempt as seen on Doris and IDLSIDGO to one of almost repentance and reconciliation, something which is to be expected as most of the album was recorded in the wake of his death this January.

The album is sparse in terms of features, four in total. Two of which are Earl’s parents, both on the track “Playing Possum.”

At some points, whether intentionally or not, Earl’s old style still seems to poke through the cracks. A notable example of this can be heard on “Loosie,” a bitter and insidious sounding piece centered around fakeness and rumor-spreading that could have just as easily been a bonus track off of IDLSIDGO as it could have on Some Rap Songs.

The album ends on a string ballad from his father’s close friend, South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela. Absent of any lyrics, the brief outro track serves as a wonderfully pensive and thoughtful end to Earl Sweatshirt’s masterwork album, Some Rap Songs.