Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Doris’ – Clash’s number one album of 2013 – is an often dark, somewhat menacing listen. It’s a record that creeps from the margins, accessibility apparent yet always tinged with something more sinister than what one hears in everyday rap fare. It’s commercial music without compromise – the mainstream has caught up to Earl, rather than him chasing success.
Another artist whose rhymes come from the deeper recesses of the twisted psyche is Blue Daisy. The London-based MC-cum-producer-cum-singer, aka Kwesi Darko (pictured), made a substantial mark on 2013 with his ‘F*ck A Rap Song’ breakthrough – a nightmarish diversion from the sunnier beats of so many American contemporaries.
Around the time of ‘F*ck A Rap Song’, Clash interviewed Darko for our Next Wave section. He told us: “I don’t know how to describe my music… I can’t place it into one box. I’m just an artist, I’m making art – however you want to label it, you go ahead and label it. But I’m not down with labelling what I do.”
And on the darker hues of his material: “Life is not all rosy. It’s not all glamour. Not everyone can afford to live the life Rick Ross lives. We’re living in London… and most of the people here are broke.”
Channelling real-life concerns through the filter of a singular talent, blurred with tears and burned with cigarette butts, it’s pretty obvious to us that Blue Daisy’s got a brilliant 2014 ahead of him – and he’ll release the ‘Psychotic Love’ EP, via 37 Adventures, on February 10th. Check out the video to the EP’s title track below – right before Blue Daisy gives Clash his verdict on ‘Doris’. Sounds like he’s not quite as impressed as us…
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Blue Daisy, ‘Psychotic Love’
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“‘LIKE IT’S NOTHING COS IT’S NOTHING, BIIIITTTCH!!’ My thoughts exactly after hearing Earl’s debut LP.
“After a number of setbacks on the release date, my suspense for this album was killing me – like a kid at Christmas waiting to unwrap his new PS4, it was frustrating, but it did finally come! I anticipated it to be the best hip-hop/rap album of the year, I truly did. My expectations where high – higher than my brainwaves after a night in Amsterdam, if you get my drift.
“Were my expectations met? Was it the hip-hop album of the year? I think Danny Brown’s ‘Old’ (Clash review) may have something to say about that. Nevertheless, EARL is EARL and ‘Like it’s nothing cos it’s nothing bitch’ is how EARL delivers his raps. His wordplay is effortless, and his profound mannerisms made me wonder if the generation of die-hard OFWGKTA followers really understood what this kid is really saying. I had to hit the rewind button a few times, if I’m totally honest.
“But as Earl educated a lot of the contemporary rappers about how to deliver rap after rap, Earl also invited a number of guests to spew on ‘Doris’. Let's start with Frank Ocean’s appearance on ‘Sunday’, most definitely one of his best verses of his career to date… ‘Forgot you don’t like it rough / I mean he called me a faggot / I was just calling his bluff / I mean how anal am I gon’ be when I’m aiming my gun.’
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Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, ‘Hive’
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“WOI!! Just had to acknowledge that, and Vince Staples running that gangsta flow on ‘Hive’. Each one of Earl’s guests come correct, all the way down to Tyler declaring: ‘I suck now, I ain’t still dope / But Chris and Rihanna’s f*cking again, so there's still hope.’
“So yes Earl may have personally accomplished what he set out to do with ‘Doris’ but, in my opinion, I do feel like this is not him at his best. But as long as Earl remains free, I can only see him growing and cementing his place as one of the best wordplay lyricists of this era.
“Album of the year? Naaahhh, but definitely a grower and a very addictive listen. ‘SWEATSHIRT N*GGA!’” Blue Daisy
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Blue Daisy (presents Dahlia Black), ‘F*ck A Rap Song’
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Find Blue Daisy online here.
Clash magazine features all kinds of good stuff on its pages – both of these artists, indeed. Check it.