Thebe Kgositsile, better known as hip hop artist Earl Sweatshirt, is back with a new hotly anticipated studio album following 2015’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. Some Rap Songs, Earl’s third studio album, was released on November 30 to widespread critical acclaim.
Earl rose to prominence through his affiliation with Californian hip-hop collective Odd Future. Earl joined Odd Future in 2009 following an invite from head honcho and hip-hop prodigy Tyler, The Creator. As a collective, Odd Future has been largely inactive since 2015, and some members including Earl have suggested they have disbanded. However, ex-members Earl and Tyler have been active in their solo careers, with Tyler, The Creator’s fourth studio album, Flower Boy, releasing in 2017 to massive critical and commercial success.
Some Rap Songs is Earl’s most adventurous project to date, featuring slick rhymes and jazzy, sample-heavy production. The beats were largely produced by Earl himself, featuring warped vocal samples, stuttering and jittery beats laced with smooth percussive loops. “Nowhere2go” features an out of tune piano melody ever so slightly out of time. The same technique is employed for “The Mint,” which features fellow rapper Navy Blue. Earl’s influences in Jazz are impossible to miss, with almost every track on the album featuring distorted samples teeming with personality. The whole project feels unpolished yet complete; there is often vinyl static and white noise throughout the project.
Earl’s lyrics are often dark, and he frequently cites his ongoing battles with depression. In “Nowhere2go,” Earl raps: “I think… I spent most of my life depressed/Only thing on my mind was death/Didn’t know if my time was next.” Earl’s stream-of-consciousness adds great character to his delivery. In every one of Earl’s solo projects following his debut EP, Earl, Thebe has reinvented his sound. Some Rap Songs may be his most complete project to date, and despite its short length (at only 24 minutes), it is one of his best projects yet. Every individual track is short and punchy, with only 3 out of the 15 tracks being over two minutes long.
Despite this, Some Rap Songs is teeming with personality and flair, characteristic of Earl’s trademark deadpan style. The lyrics are clever and Earl’s delivery flows with a rugged tinge. Despite its short length, Some Rap Songs feels full and satisfying, with Earl clearly subscribing to the less-is-more philosophy.
On this project, Earl surpasses expectations and powers on in solidifying his legacy as one of the best in the game.