Earl Sweatshirt exhibits new artistic style with ‘Some Rap Songs’

Using soulful samples and introspective lyrics, Earl Sweatshirt creates a deeply personal album that shows his individuality as an artist.

After three years of sporadic track releases or features, Earl Sweatshirt is finally back now with his third studio album, “Some Rap Songs.”

Hailing from Los Angeles, Sweatshirt originally came onto the rap scene around 2009, when Tyler, the Creator invited him to join his rap group, Odd Future. Sweatshirt’s clever rhymes, nonchalant attitude and edgy style made him appealing to many — this allowed him to gain popularity rapidly in the rap industry, dropping his first studio album, “Doris,” in 2013. Sweatshirt then went on a two-year hiatus, appearing on some Odd Future songs and gaining a few features, but returned with a second album, “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside,” in 2015.

On first listen, “Some Rap Songs” is a bit difficult to process — everything about it seems like a mess. The album cover, seemingly a picture of Sweatshirt, is blurry, and the track names don’t really make sense. It honestly seems a bit confusing, as the album is basically a bunch of soulful samples with a couple clever rhymes thrown in. However, once you actually focus on the album and listen to Sweatshirt’s angsty raps, it goes from being a confusing compilation to an artistic mess.

The album’s strengths lied in songs like “Shattered Dreams,” “Nowhere2go” and “Riot,” and reasons for these differ. In “Shattered Dreams,” the laid-back beat and choir snippets along with Sweatshirt’s bars create a relaxed track reminiscent of old-school rap. “Nowhere2go” stands out in its rhythm and uniqueness — the nonchalance in which Sweatshirt delivers his raps makes you want to sway along to his words. Not to mention that both of these songs, like most of the songs on the album, have personal meanings within them. As you listen to what Sweatshirt is saying, he addresses his own emotional struggles and life throughout his hiatus. “Riot” is purely an instrumental track, featuring a lazy, yet calming guitar strum. It is my own personal favorite on the album because it shows Sweatshirt’s production skills, and it sounds like winding down after a busy day.

Admittedly, the album can sound like one long song, which can be good and bad at times. For example, certain tracks like “Eclipse,” “Veins” or “The Bends” sound a bit monotonous, as they don’t really stand out in the album the way other songs might. It is one of those albums that are more enjoyable to listen to when thinking or pondering things. If you want to listen to something hype, this may not be the Earl Sweatshirt album for you. “Some Rap Songs” is almost like entering Sweatshirt’s brain and hearing his thoughts, feelings and emotions, so it’s more enjoyable to listen to with an open mind.

Granted, I enjoyed this album — even though it comes across as a mess at first, it becomes cohesive once you really try to understand it and appears more artistic than odd. Sweatshirt has outdone himself, from personalizing the album deeply to exhibiting his talent lyrically and production-wise.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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