Earl Sweatshirt, born Thebe Kgositsile, rose to fame in 2010 as part of rap collective Odd Future.
Earl, considered a “rap acrobat,” became popularized with the 2013 album, “Doris.” Two years later, “I Don’t Like Sh*t I Don’t Go Outside,” debuted. His freshman and sophomore projects mirrored the rapping he did for Odd Future in aggression and depressing lyrics—what the public came to expect.
After a three-year period of seclusion, appearing seldomly on features or concert stages, Earl has reappeared with his junior album, “Some Rap Songs,” (SRS), a chronicle of Earl’s mental/physical health issues and grief over the death of his estranged father, South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile.
SRS has been described by Complex and Pitchfork as similar to that of the grainy, basement-beats famed rapper Madvillian, MF Doom, makes. However, Earl has been working with this sort of music production long before the album release. “Solace,” a 10-minute, unreleased track spans over a series of three interludes, much to the same tone of what’s heard on SRS.
SRS is different, a bleaker affair than anything young Earl released. The beats are overwhelming and his voice hazy, sometimes inaudible. The emotion is evident when he does rap, lyrics like “…back off, stand-offish and anemic…Why ain’t nobody tell me I was bleeding?” from the track “Shattered Dreams,” and “It’s been a minute since I heard applause, it’s been a minute since you seen or heard from me, I’ve been swerving calls,” from “Veins,” begin to give light to why.. He is as antsy and depressed as when he was sixteen but communicating it differently.
Instead of flat-out rage, listeners are confronted with a more directed anger; one Earl has for himself, his father’s death, and what has brought continual and underestimated hardship onto him.
Earl’s music is notorious for its uncomfortability. You simply cannot listen to any of his albums, SRS especially, and not be forced to examine yourself. It is the beauty of his music, and what makes fans supportive and wanting more even during periods of disappearance. To listen to Earl is to love him, even the parts he keeps to himself.