Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (Album Review)

Earl Sweatshirt is somewhat of an urban legend. After his mixtape/album Earl dropped he vanished from Odd Future. All that was left was tales of who he was, what might have happened to him, and an underground rap album that sounded like Eminem on acid at his worst. It was undeniable the amount of talent that the rapper had. Earl's shotgun flow and interesting rhymes as well as his story skyrocketed him to the top of the most interesting rappers in America list. Throughout the time Earl was gone Complex uncovered Earl was in fact sent to a Samoan school for troubled teens. Then after a mysterious website surfaced and twitter popped up the rapper was back. Upon his return he was featured on the Odd Future Mixtape Volume 2 on one track and people waited to see just what Earl Sweatshirt would do and who he was.

After quite a while of waiting fans can finally rejoice in Doris Earl's first official debut album. Odd Future as a whole have had trouble recapturing what made them such a massive underground success as they stepped into the limelight. Maybe they've grown up some, but there is no denying some of the rougher lyrical content found in their earlier works has faded as they've gotten older and as they've moved more into the limelight. Leader Tyler, The Creator has released two albums that have been received fairly well, but some critics have found them uneven and daunting listens. While other groups like Mellowhype have heard similar things. It's probably something Earl will also hear as his new album is very different from his debut release Earl.

Gone on Doris are a lot of the sinister raps found on Earl. What is not gone is the undeniably great flow Earl brings to his rap tracks. Some tracks are better than others, but for the most part it's easily one of the better Odd Future related releases. "Hive," "Sasquatch," and "Whoa" sound and feel a little more like classic Earl tracks and really stick out as awesome songs on first listen of the album. "Chum" is also a really great song that shows Earl's maturity as a writer while addressing some of the stuff people have been curious about. (It discusses some of his Odd Future beginnings as well as Complex hunting him down in Samoa). The high moments on the album are pretty much everything fans have been waiting to hear.

Doris is also not quite as cohesive as Earl. It does lag in a few spots. Overall it sounds like a much slower album. "Burgandy" produced by Pharrell only sounds okay. Lyrically it's pretty strong but Pharrell's beat sounds only okay. Pharrell was also featured on Tyler, The Creator's new album, which in my opinion, also felt a little out of place. Pharrell's quest to stay relevant on these releases only shows he's having trouble keeping up with current crop of younger hip hoppers. Earl saves "Burgandy" with a decent set of lyrics, but those lyrics could have been better saved for a different beat. That being said there is no denying that anyone who has the chance to work with Pharrell probably wouldn't pass it up. "Guild" featuring Mac Miller also doesn't help the album any. This track features both Mac and Earl with slowed down vocals. Slowed down vocals are familiar territory with Odd Future and the eerie beat is kind of neat. Mac doesn't sound menacing at all and it really doesn't fit his vocal style at all. Earl steps in and his verse works better with the style. He saves the song, but after hearing Mac's cheesy rapping it just feels a little like a blemish.

Overall Doris is a long awaited album and it will no doubt be picked apart and examined by many critics. It's the daunting task of listening and trying to answer the questions: Does he live up to the hype? Was it worth the wait? Who is Earl Sweatshirt? I feel like this album does a good job of introducing the world to the more mature grown up Earl. I don't think it's going to generate the same buzz and hype his debut Earl did; it probably won't live up to the hype for many. There is no denying though that this is a really interesting album that has a lot of really great songs on it. Earl has an undeniably great flow and way with words. Maybe the "oddest" thing about the album is to me for all of the expectations it does a decent job of following up Earl while still feeling like a tiny bit of a letdown. Maybe the letdown is the loss of the mystery, or the change in the vibe, but there is a nagging feeling that even though this is one of the best rap albums you will hear this year it still feels like more could have been done or could be done on future albums. That's the great thing about debut albums though they can be awesome while leaving a little room for improvement without hurting the listening experience much. This is worth checking out. It's a neat album and it's catchy and full of really interesting rhymes. I think if you've ever asked Who is Earl Sweatshirt? you'll get an answer to that question after listening to Doris. This is a really cool album. I definitely think it's a must hear.

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