In his long-awaited return, Chicago-born rapper and part of the Odd Future collective, Earl Sweatshirt, champions a brilliantly abstract style throughout what is quite possibly one of his most riveting works to date.
Fans had to wait almost four years for Earl to make a comeback after his previous studio album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, which was released back in March 2015. However, it was certainly worth the wait.
With his past music evidently inspiring many recent hip-hop and rap albums, it seems clear that Earl fully realised that he had to push the uniqueness of his music even further in order to continue being such a dark horse in the rap game.
The most mind-blowing element of the album is arguably its production. Seven producers (including Earl Sweatshirt’s producer alter ego: RandomBlackDude) all collaborated in creating the surreal sounds that support Earl’s signature angsty vocal style, which add a nice sense of familiarity amongst all of the innovation that went into this album.
While having far more of an abstract production this time around, this album sustains the underground vibe that was part of what made his past albums so enjoyable to listen to. As well as this, the overall themes of this album are relatable to his past works. Mainly revolving around the idea of his mostly negative experiences and feelings. With Some Rap Songs, however, fans have the chance to get up to speed with how he has been between 2015 and this year. Like all good concept albums, the concept here becomes fully realised by the listener after the very first track. Titled ‘Shattered Dreams’, the track does an excellent job of giving a brief rundown of these experiences and feelings in what is described as “imprecise words”. The majority of the tracks that follow, push this theme forward and allows the narrative of the album to flow very well.
Other notable numbers on this album include the two teaser tracks, ‘Nowhere2go’ and ‘The Mint’. These two do a brilliant job in both promoting the album as great singles and settling in well with the rest of the album upon its release. I also love the album’s second track ‘Red Water’ that takes the production of Earl’s own 2015 musical piece, Solace, and tinkers with it. There’s also highlights in fifth track, ‘December 24’, with its somber and cold atmosphere that the production gives and the eighth track, ‘The Bends’, thanks to how they brilliantly distorted a sample from Linda Clifford’s ‘After Loving You’. Despite this, one of the main reasons Some Rap Songs is such a well-crafted album is because it can be appreciated a lot more when you listen to the whole thing.
You would struggle to find anyone who can cram so much into an album that only spans under 25 minutes and has shown a significant evolution in both his flow and his creativity, and has renewed his place as one of the most influential artists of our generation.