By: Alvindra |
Rapper Earl Sweatshirt shocked the world when he released the single “Nowhere2go” on November 8. The former “Hip-Hop Prodigy” released his first music since his album “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt” on 2015. Since then, it has been widely known that Thebe Kgositsile, Earl’s real name, has been battling depression, which held him back from releasing music for three years. Used to be highly regarded as a “Hip-Hop Prodigy”, he is slowly turning to “Hip-Hop’s Biggest What If”. However, on November 28, Earl eventually released his third studio album “Some Rap Songs”. With only two musical features, Standing On The Corner and Blue Navy, two very short songs, ranging between one to three minutes per song, self produced lo-fi avant garde jazz samples, and his combination of lyrical mastery and rapping techniques, Earl Sweatshirt once again has to proof that he is not a waste of potential and rapper who has fallen down the cliff – unlike what many people had said about him.
“Some Rap Songs”’ first song, “Shattered Dreams” discusses about the things he has been through since 2015, with bars like “Why ain’t nobody tell me I was sinking? Ain’t nobody tell me I could leave” emphasizing on the mental illness he has been fighting and the lack of help he got. On the next song, “Red Water”, Earl discusses the complicated relationship he had with his late father, Keorapetse Kgositsile, a South African poet and activist. On “Cold Summers”, he reveals his past substance abuse, caused by his upbringing which taught him that black men were supposed to act tough and not show their feelings, resulting in him using drugs as a coping method. On single “Nowhere2go”, he continues to explore the previously discussed theme, while also expanding to topics such as friendship and his religious beliefs. On “Ontheway!”, Earl raps about the influence his mother has on his life over Soul Superior’s “Trust In Me Baby” sample. On “The Bends” and “Loosie”, he celebrates his success with his friends back in their Odd Future days, which also paved the way for many new school rappers such as MIKE, who is also his close friend whom he briefly talks about on the track “Azucar”. Track “Playing Possum” is a surprise he planned for his parents, consisting of recordings of his mother talking about family and his father reciting his poem “Anguish Longer Than Sorrow”. However, his father passed away before he released the album. He continues to talk about his late father and how he is going through his father’s death on the second last track of the album, “Peanut”. “Some Rap Songs” is closed with the track “Riot!”, an instrumental sample of song “Mace and Grenades / Riots” by South African jazz musician, Hugh Masekela, who was also Earl’s father close friend.
“Some Rap Songs” is Earl Sweatshirt’s proof that he’s not just some “yesterday’s rapper”. Following his critically acclaimed debut studio album “Doris” and his second studio album “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside”, Earl has successfully blessed music fans with his very raw, emotional, and personal album. Unlike the stripped down, minimalist production in “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside”, Earl gets more experimental in “Some Rap Songs”, incorporating jazz and soul sample loops to produce an avant-garde jazz hop record. His self-produced beats might sound raw and dirty, but the imperfect, lo-fi beats are parts of the album’s charm. He embraces his philosopher-poet roots, combining wordplay with genius figuratives and rich vocabulary to tell stories about his life struggles, from his relationship with his father to his depression and anxiety. Both of these aspects are combined to envision his life into “Some Rap Songs”, arguably Earl’s best project, and definitely his most emotional and personal one to date.