Some Rap Songs | Review

Earl Sweatshirt Feature Artists

Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs | Feature Album

Earl Sweatshirt manages to outdo himself on every record. Some Rap Songs shows him at a level that has no equal. His blending of poetry, rap and muddy, abstract beats leave him at a creative level rivalled by few. The record stands at twenty-five minutes with fifteen songs and makes for some of the most rewarding repeat listening experiences of the last few years. No matter how one feels about the music, it is more than fair to say no one sounds like Earl in the given climate.

The album shows it’s full hand and doesn’t relent. The tone of ‘Shattered Dreams’ leaves a bleak collage of sounds and samples for Earl to work with. Each song expresses and expands on different moments, thoughts and feelings through the lens of Earl’s psyche. Whether that be depression ('Peanut'), family, drugs ('December 24') or change ('Veins'), his delivery remains in the realm of spoken word over melody. Its impact, however, remains powerful as he gives a picture of himself that is mature, yet frayed, especially when contrasting his voice to that of his earlier projects.

The album remains relatively scarce on features. 'Navy Blue' and 'Standing On The Corner' give the only significant verses per se. But the standout is the sampling of his parents on 'Playing Possum' and his uncle on 'Riot!', expressing a sense of reconciliation with them, given his past with both (see here).

The album was met with initial widespread acclaim, and after many listen, the record holds up outstandingly so. Among its contemporaries in the master releases of the 2010s (Pinata, To Pimp A Butterfly, Atrocity Exhibition), Earl remains unique and stands proudly among some of the best.

It was followed by the 2019 EP ‘Feet of Clay’ which acts as a great companion to the record as both extra servings and contextual additions. Although ‘EAST’ drew initial divisions with it’s ‘unorthodox’ beat, it serves as a bold challenge from one of the most antisocial figures of our time. Regardless, as a body of work, it serves as a full album in traditional terms. But Earl is anything but traditional, and Some Rap Songs is as creative as it is brave, and is one of the most essential listens of recent years.

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Mitchell Phillips

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