Earl Sweatshirt Gets Personal on “Some Rap Songs”
Written by Chris Ramos on December 11, 2018
Title: Some Rap Songs
Artist: Earl Sweatshirt
Release Date: November 30th, 2018
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Earl Sweatshirt had to brace harsh realities this past year, especially with the death of his father. He seemingly fell into depths that were darker than ever before.
A canceled summer tour certainly raised eyebrows and concern surfaced, as Earl cited a battle with depression and anxiety. Thankfully, he remained stern within the grotesque face of adversity.
An appearance on Vince Staples’ FM! garnered plenty of attention from fans and building off the surging momentum, Earl released two songs titled “The Mint” and “Nowhere2go” in mid-November. If that wasn’t enough, how about the announcement of a new project?
Some Rap Songs made its highly-anticipated arrival on Nov. 30 and the album is eclipsed by personal turmoil and the desire to make amends.
The mosaic-like instrumental of “Nowhere2go” helps to build the backbone of Earl’s sermon, who has found reconciliation with himself. Sweatshirt says: “Tryna refine this shit, I redefined myself/ First I had to find it (Uh)/I couldn’t find a friend, had to rely on my wits.”
Relying on his wits has fared awfully well.
With “Nowhere2go” being the first song released off of the record, it was our glimpse at what was to come. The rapper’s last studio album was in 2015 with “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside”, yet his voice and message carries humility and illumination that is crafted by strenuous decades. Later in the song, he addresses the fact that he must give thanks to the “most high”, summoning the idea that spirituality has rooted itself into his life.
The album clocks in at a twenty-four-minute runtime. All of the instrumentation is raw and experimental, with a sound that feels unfinished. Most of the songs are produced by Earl, following the trend that was seen with his last effort.
You’ve got to love that dynamic approach in an artist.
With the song “Veins”, Earl reflects on the good and bad that is embedded in life and the need for those forces to be around in order for our maturation to ensue. After insisting that one should keep faith, he moves along into the classic cleverness of his writing: “Peace to every crease on your brain/ Peace to who came before me in the game/We givin’ praise and glory to you name, kid/ We cellophane your story so it stays.”
The melancholic tone remains true throughout the album and is seen at its fullest in “Cold Summers”.
Similar to the bleak summer of Staples’ world, Earl wasn’t taking in the warm embrace of the air. Instead, he metaphorically states that he’s roaming tundras, even in the summer. Earl’s search for direction in life is just as cold and lifeless as a tundra. He refers to his dependency on marijuana which he believes attributed to his feeling of stagnation. He isn’t ignorant about his faults, but he is too emotionally drained to take initiative and change course.
A theme that overshadows personal reconciliation is Sweatshirt’s reconciliation with his family.
Reverting back to the song “Veins”, Earl mentions giving thanks to his mother, Cheryl Harris. Meanwhile,“Peanut” serves as a nod to Earl’s father and poet, Keorapeste Kgoisitsile.
Without a doubt, the most powerful point of this record comes at “Playing Possum”, in which the voices of Earl’s parents are intertwined. As his father recites a piece of his poem titled “Anguish Longer Than Sorrow”, his mother reflects on her life and speaks of sincere affection for her son.
Now, there are drawbacks to the record.
“Red Water” offers a great instrumental but is ultimately watered down by a recurring sample in the beat that becomes mundane.
The rhymes are concise on “Loosie”, but the outlandish production leaves something to be desired. The same can be said about the project’s length.
At the end of the day, the listening experience is enjoyable. If picking at the occasional mishaps of the sound is a bigger deal than the content, that’s a good thing. It shows that the rapper’s prowess hasn’t declined.
Some Rap Songs is intense and invites us into the mind of someone that has been battling the person that they see in the mirror. It’s a damn good album. It may not be perfect, it may not be what was expected, but it gets the job done.