When Earl Sweatshirt teased an album in November with the release of singles “Nowhere2go,” an experimental track to say the least, and “The Mint,” a more “traditional” Sweatshirt track, many hip-hop fans were excited. His last album “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt” was released in 2015, and garnered critical acclaim from many.
However, things are very different since 2015. With Sweatshirt losing his father early this year, canceling tour dates due to his mental health, as well as his friend Mac Miller passing away, it’s been a rough year for him.
Despite this, he was able to put “Some Rap Songs,” his latest album, together and release it for the world to hear and he seems content with that.
And he should, because this album is up there with the best of his discography. The production has evolved from his last album. Sweatshirt still has the great lyrical ability he’s had since the “Earl” mixtape back in 2010.
From the intro track, “Shattered Dreams,” which features Sweatshirt discussing a variety of topics ranging from substance abuse to robbery, to the outro instrumental “Riot!,” this album is expressive at points, but mostly reserved in production.
When Sweatshirt is expressive, he raps over different instrumentals than the ones to which many fans are accustomed. On the three tracks he does them on, “Nowhere2go,” “Loosie,” and “Eclipse,” he makes sure to differentiate these beats by playing with the rhythm, tempo and the overall sound. Even with these changes, great lyricism is consistent throughout the entire album.
Tracks like “Shattered Dreams,” “Red Water,” and “Cold Summers” are the earliest examples of this simpler sound on the album and on these tracks he talks about topics ranging from President Donald Trump on “Veins,” his drug use on “December 24” with lines like “bad acid did damage to my mental” or his relationship with his family in “Azucar.”
The most emotional track on the album is one that doesn’t feature Sweatshirt at all, but instead takes pieces from a speech his mother gave and a poem by his late father and mixes them together. It’s been well documented throughout Sweatshirt’s discography of his complicated relationship with his family, so it was great to see him, in a way, embrace both his parents.
If you were looking for the old Sweatshirt, you will not find him on this project. Sure the raps are still there and his production is all over the project, but it definitely doesn’t sound the same. This album shows a more experimental side of Sweatshirt; a side of Earl I feel like we will most definitely see in the future.
With that being said, if this is going to be the official sound of Sweatshirt, he’s going to need to find his way with this new sound. He does well when rapping over the looped samples, but when he starts to experiment with the production, despite riding all beats, he leaves much to be desired. At first listen, the experimental tracks sound almost out of place, but after a few listens you’ll hear that Sweatshirt actually chose the right production throughout.
There’s no doubt Sweatshirt has one of the best discographies in music, but while this album doesn’t tarnish or help elevate that claim, it definitely will be an interesting one to revisit in his career. This could be the worst album in his discography, but that just shows what kind of standard Sweatshirt has set for himself.