Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (Review)

Earl Sweatshirt - Doris

"Doris" is the debut studio album by Odd Future emcee Earl Sweatshirt. The album features guest appearances from Vince Staples, Domo Genesis, Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller and others as well as production by The Alchemist, Pharrell, RZA and others. It was released on August 20, 2013 via Tan Cressida and Columbia Records.


1) Pre (featuring SK La' Flare) - The album starts off with SK La'Flare spitting a verse over an ominous instrumental before Earl Sweatshirt shows up to close out the song. It's always a little odd when the first voice you hear on an album is that of a guest instead of the main artist, but it is what it is. Anyways, the beat on here is really mellow and dark, with some unsettling synths and deep bass, and both emcees come correct. I've never heard of SK La'Flare before but he sounds pretty good despite Earl having the stronger verse. It's not the best track on here, but its still dope.

2) Burgundy (featuring Vince Staples) - Pharrell come through with a slower, jazzy instrumental with some blaring horns and head-nodding drums. The beat is dope and Earl rips it, kicking a few verses about his dedication to the rap game and to putting out the best product possible even if he may have his priorities twisted sometimes. Vince Staples only appears on the chorus, which is a shame because I would have loved to hear him spit a rhyme on here. Still, this is ill. I am really diggin' the live instrumentation feel of the beat. Good shit.

3) 20 Wave Caps (featuring Domo Genesis) - Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt spit fire over an unorthodox Samiyam instrumental with some depressing organs and synths over mellow drums. The beat has an uneasy feel to it, but both emcees bring it - especially Domo Genesis who channels his inner Makaveli as he spits
"Look for me, lost in a whirlwind, 2012 quality
High up until the world ends, doing eighty-five in my ride
And these niggas hiding, know I'm striding like a giant
I ain't lying when I'm rhyming, rule these niggas like a tyrant"
Very dope.

4) Sunday (featuring Frank Ocean) - Earl and Frank Ocean both rap about relationships and drugs over another mellow instrumental that is a bit lighter than the others on the album so far. It's still a far cry from being called happy or carefree, but it's not quite as dismal as some of the others. It's also really nice to hear Frank Ocean spit some raps instead of just singing. This shit is dope.

5) Hive (featuring Vince Staples and Casey Veggies) - The beat on this song, courtesy of Matt Martians and Randomblackdude (who is really just the alter-ego of Earl himself), is real laid-back but it's dark as hell. Both Earl and Long Beach emcee Vince Staples rip it, while Casey Veggies only shows up a bit on the chorus. Vince definitely comes correct and bodies his verse, but I'm really feelin' Earl's second verse on this track.
"From a city that's recession hit
With stress, niggas could flex metal with peddle to rake pennies in
Desolate testaments trying to stay Jekyll-ish
But most niggas Hyde and Brenda just stay pregnant
Breaking news - death's less important when the Lakers lose
It's lead in that baby food, heads try to make it through"
This song is fire.



6) Chum - Randomblackdude, Christian Rich and Chad Hugo collaborate for another mellow instrumental with some solemn piano keys and stuttering drums. The instrumental is somber and bleak as Earl kicks some honest rhymes about how his father left him at an early age and how the lack of a father figure in his life has affected him since.
"It's probably been twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless
And I just used to say I hate him in dishonest jest
When honestly I miss this nigga, like when I was six
And every time I got the chance to say it I would swallow it
Sixteen, I'm hollow, intolerant, skipped shots
I storm that whole bottle, I'll show you a role model"
I'm really feelin' this track. The beat is dope and Earl rips it in a smooth, but monotone flow. Another banger.



7) Sasquatch (featuring Tyler, The Creator) - The beat on this track, provided by Tyler The Creator, has a nice guitar loop with some dusty drums that meshes nicely with the crazy train-of-thought verses of both emcees. The rhymes are quite humorous and the beat is dope. It's not a standout track for me, but it's still pretty nice.

8) Centurion (featuring Vince Staples) - This song starts off with a quick verse by Vince Staples over a minimalistic instrumental with some threatening strings and soft drums before the beat switches up when Earl comes in to spit. The second beat is absolute fire and has some eerie "horror movie" inspired strings and head-nodding boom-bap drums. Earl bodies the beat and spits some violent bars in a more energized flow. The whole song feels tense and on-edge. This shit is banging and one of my favorite tracks on the album.

9) 523 - Short, but dope, instrumental track by Randomblackdude.

10) Uncle Al - The Alchemist comes through with an absolute banger of an instrumental for Earl Sweatshirt to murder. The beat is full of Alan's trademark sound, with some cinematic synths over rapid-fire hi-hats. The only bad thing about this track is that Earl and the gang pull a "Beach is Better" on us and cut the track off after only 53 seconds. Oh well, it's still really dope. I just wish it was longer.

11) Guild (featuring Mac Miller) - The Randomblackdude instrumental on this song is really slow and hazy, giving it a drugged-up, lethargic feel. Mac Miller changes up his usual delivery a bit to come with a more monotone flow to match the drowsy feeling of the instrumental and Earl does the same. Lyrically the song is just ok as both rappers just kick some uninspired drug and women raps in slowed down, distorted voices. This song is ok, but definitely not a standout for me.

12) Molasses (featuring RZA) - Now this is dope. The beat, by Christian Rich and Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, is an ill piano loop with head-nodding drums as both Earl and RZA threaten to "fuck the freckles off your bitch." The beat is banging and the lyrics are quite funny. Too bad this song is so short because it's one of the highlights of the album for me. Fire.

13) Whoa (featuring Tyler, The Creator) - Speaking of the RZA, the Tyler The Creator instrumental on this song reminds me a little of something that might have ended up one of Wu-Tang Clans earlier releases. The beat is dark as hell and has a creepy vocal sample melded in with soft piano keys and hard ass drums. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it does. Earl's wordplay and rhyme schemes are definintely on point on this track as he starts it off with
"Grab mittens who have to spit blizzardous
Actually, flick cigarette ash at bitch niggas
Harassment, ate nickels of hash, delay quick and then
Dash to Saint Nicholas pad to taste venison"
It doesn't look like much typed out, but the way the words flow together sounds dope. Another ill track.



14) Hoarse - Earl Sweatshirt comes his usual stream-of-consciousness type flow over a BadBadNotGood instrumental that has a restrained rock music feel to it. I kept waiting for the beat to drop fully as it slowly builds up to the chorus, but it never really does. Regardless, the instrumental is haunting and Earl comes correct with the lyrics, as always. This shit is really dark and I'm definitely diggin' the vibe of it. Another banger.

15) Knight (featuring Domo Genesis) - The final track on the album has a soulful instrumental, provided Christian Rich, that I believe is the same sample that RZA flipped on Raekwon's "New Wu" track. The beat is really ill and both Domo Genesis and Earl rip it, spitting about growing up fatherless and achieving success despite not having a father to teach them life's lessons. I'm really feelin' this song. Very dope way to end the album.

I'm going to rate the album

4 / 5

because it's really dope. There are a few songs that I'm not feelin' as much as some of the others, but the majority of the album is straight fire. The beats are banging throughout, with mostly all of them keeping with the moody, depressing feel of the album. Earl Sweatshirt comes correct on pretty much every track as well, spitting in his trademark monotone flow and filling every verse with intricate wordplay and vivid imagery. The overall cohesiveness of the project is very nice and the darker vibe is a welcome change from all of the party music prevalent on the radio. The only real criticisms I have with the album is that some people may be turned off by the somber feel of the instrumentals and by the heavy lyrics. Still, I think the album is really dope and may even jump up a half point or so after repeated listens.

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