I hated this album the first time I heard it. Hated how we were lied to (didn’t Earl Sweatshirt tweet that he would try to improve his somnolent flow following some criticisms of Doris? If so, that’s only true on “Mantra”); hated how Earl Sweatshirt focused less on his lyrics and more on his production whereas he should’ve just outsourced the latter to people named Flying Lotus, Frank Ocean and Pharrell and not named Tyler, the Creator; hated how the production sounded like ridiculous expensive equipment bullied into sounding lo-fi; hated how the entire album seemed like Earl Sweatshirt retreating into his bedroom with a joint and some tissue paper to deal with first world problems (title is indicative) (boohoo, his mother is controlling his life!); hated how nothing here reaches the highs of EARL (ie. the title track) or Doris (ie. “Sunday”) – it all just flatlines.
Although because it flatlines, there’s also none of the lows that plagued Doris (ie. “Sasquatch” or “Guild”).
But listening and relistening, though I stand by everything I just said, I realized I missed the following details (in the order that they come):
~The demented baseball game organ beat of “Huey” (my favorite beat on the album);
~”Beat the fucking beat up like it stole from me”;
~”Now you surrounded with a gaggle of 100 fucking thousand kids
Who you can’t get mad at, when they want a pound and pic
Cause they the reason that the traffic on the browser quick
And they the reason that the paper in your trouser’s thick”;
~The ear-worming melody throughout “Faucet” (appropriate title);
~The off-kilter drums of “Grief”;
~”Heavy handing tracks until the day the fucking train come” from “Off Top” (the only song produced by someone not named Earl Sweatshirt – Left Brain – which is also one of the weaker beats, with the constantly intruding vocal sample; ask yourself what its purpose is);
~The flickers of light throughout “AM”;
~How the coda of “Radio” feels like a logical extension of “AM” (as did the coda at the end of “Huey”); compare these to the worthless beat switch at the end of “Chum”;
~How his voice drops a semitone and he drops the braggadocio facade of the preceding lines to say, “Tell momma get a gun if I get too popular” on “DNA,” and the piano loop on the same track;
~A few of Vince Staple lines which makes me think I was too quick to write-off his EP from last year (but probably not): “Bullet hit his forehead, it exit out his under arm”; “You play me for a pawn … your posse full of prawns”; “Pistols rip his body apart, now he afraid of dark … alleyways” (of the three features who get their own verses – Da$h’s contributions are interspersed with Earl’s on “Grown Ups” – Vince Staples is obviously the best. Na’kel’s makes no sense, which makes sense when you learn he was on acid and reeling from the death of a friend).
~”Put your body down in water like a Lipton tea bag and then
Switch to different fucking whip to let them piggies speed past ’em.”
—– —– —– —– —–
His lyrical skill has stayed the same while his production skills are slowly improving, and that shows a promise that he has nowhere to go but up. His best album so far, and I look forward to the next.