Earl Sweatshirt - Doris

The hype's worthwhile, as this delivers on expectations...
Earl Sweatshirt - Doris

‘Doris’ doesn’t exactly race out of the blocks, but by track two the invested hype is seeing a massive return.

The Neptunes are on production and second cut ‘Burgundy’ is pure power. Amongst the deep piano chords and horn samples, Earl Sweatshirt conducts a frank post-mortem on the heavy pressure that burdened him during the making of this album, from both his label and his fans.

‘20 Wave Caps’ follows, and LA producer Samiyam provides the beat: smooth, sinister and remotely 8-bit. If Earl’s partnerships on ‘Doris’ reflect on his relationships within the Odd Future crew, then him and Domo Genesis are tight, because when these two unite it’s like fire.

Midway through the album, that piano hook releases, the drums break and Earl begins: “Something sinister to it,” in a biographical reassessment of the dark times that preceded now. It’s ‘Chum’, the first song he recorded when he returned from his publicised stay in Samoa, and the philosophical stance it finds him in is indicative of that period.

Amongst the numerous accomplishments of ‘Doris’, letting Domo Genesis confidently squint under some serious limelight is certainly one, and he returns for the album’s closer ‘Knight’.

In his opening verse, he wonders why the rap game hasn’t fully acknowledged him yet, and his voice pitch-shifts mid-verse, in a distinct nod to ol’ Captain Murphy. Earl’s verse is the perfect album wrap, finishing on a final line of genuine poetic beauty: “Young, black, jaded, vision hazy, strolling through the night.”

Unlike his debut mixtape, Earl Sweatshirt is telling truths rather than forging fantasy, and ‘Doris’ is a disturbed and penetrating journey into the mind of the boy that came back from Samoa.

8/10

Words: Joe Zadeh

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Read a full track-by-track guide to ‘Doris’ here.

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