Earl Sweatshirt – “Sick!” review

Earl Sweatshirt is a 27 year old MC/producer from Los Angeles, California who began his career in 2008 under the name Sly Tendencies. He posted a handful of tracks for a mixtape called Kitchen Cutlery on MySpace, but the tape would never be released to this day. Then he formed a rap trio with 2 of his friends called The Backpackerz & planned to release a mixtape together by the name of World Playground, but they disbanded sometime in 2009. Shortly after, he joined Odd Future & appeared on their 2nd & final mixtape Radical that May. 10 months later, he put out his only mixtape to date Earl with OF’s de facto leader Tyler, The Creator producing a bulk of it. The tape received a lot of buzz, but Earl’s mother would send him to a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys in Samoa sometime after until February of 2012. He was then granted his own Columbia Records imprint Tan Cressida Records & released his full-length debut Doris in 2013 to critical acclaim for his clever rhyme schemes & the gritty production from those such as The Neptunes & even the RZA. He then formed the duo Hog Slaughta Boyz with OF affiliate Na’kel at the beginning of 2015 & released his sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside a couple months after. Many of which consider to be better than Doris for it’s darker aesthetic. Some Rap Songs not only wound up being my favorite album of 2018, but also the best work of Earl’s career as I look at it as the bastard child of one of my all-time favorites album: Madvillainy. But after dropping a small handful of average SRS leftovers in the form of Feet of Clay the year after through an ongoing Warner Records distribution deal, he’s returning from the shadows with his 4th full-length.

“Old Friend” kicks off the album with a bare orchestral loop from The Alchemist cryptically addressing someone he’s still cool with whereas “2010” has a cloudy trap vibe with the help of Black Noi$e talking about the days when he was hungry. The title track has a more fuzzier tone produced by Navy Blue saying he won’t let the devil in just before ZeelooperZ tags along for the extravagant “Vision”. Meanwhile on “Tabula Rasa”, we have Armand Hammer joining Earl in discussing the blank slate theory on top of some plinky piano chords & a vocal chop just before “Lyre” talks about making it straight over some horns.

“Lobby” gets on some grim trap shit detailing being a superhuman while the song “God Laughs” has a atmospheric yet drumless feel to it talking about searching for his lost halo. The penultimate track “Titanic” is an abstract trap banger showcasing some clever bars such as “Get ghost like I need a killer”, but then “Fire in the Hole” ends the album by working in a guitar talking about how he needed another go.

Given how mid Feet of Clay was, it didn’t really worry me going into Sick! because I knew he was gonna expand on the experimental sounds of Some Rap Songs & that just so happens to be the case here. Another thing that makes the album highly enjoyable for me is him telling the world how he’s been dealing with the pandemic.

Score: 4.5/5

Tyler, The Creator – “Call Me If You Get Lost” review

Tyler, The Creator is a 30 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, visual artist, designer & comedian from Ladera Heights, California blowing up a decade ago as the de facto leader of Odd Future. His evolution both artistically & personally since the collective’s disbandment in 2015 has truly been amongst the most fascinating ones I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, going from the bratty edginess of Bastard & Goblin to the undeniable maturity & versatility shown on Flower Boy & Igor. I have a lot of fond memories of Tyler’s early work back in middle school/early high school, but I do think his last 2 albums are his best ones yet musically. That being said, I’ve been waiting all year for this day to come & I’m thrilled that it has.

“Sir Baudliere” starts off by introducing us to the Tyler Baudliere character over a sample of “Michael Irvin” by Westside Gunn whereas “Corso” serves as an off-the-wall follow-up “talkin’ that fresh shit”. “Lemonhead” with 42 Dugg of all people has a grimy ass instrumental & the 2 are just flexing, but then “Wusyaname” with YoungBoy Never Broke Again samples “Back Seat (Wit No Sheets)” by H-Town & details falling in love with a woman they just met.

Meanwhile on “Lumberjack”, Tyler takes it back to the “Yonkers” days with it’s boom bap production sampling the Gravediggaz just before he & Lil Wayne jump on a flute heavy beat for “Hot Wind Blows” to talk about landing in Geneva as well as reminiscing on leaving LA for the first time on the spacey “Massa”. Following this is the triumphant spending anthem “Runitup” & after that, Domo Genesis reunites with T on “Manifesto” saying people are fake mad on top of samples of both Jimmy Smith & Nas.

“Sweet” starts off as a neo-soul cut telling this woman how much he loves her with the 2nd half “I Thought You Wanted to Dance” is a duet with Fana Hues that I almost wanna say goes into reggae territory. After the “Momma Talk” skit, DAISY comes in to picture to clap back at their non-believers on the glossy boom bap banger “Rise!” co-produced by Jamie xx leading into the “Blessed” interlude.

The song “Juggernaut” with Lil Uzi Vert & Pharrell is a bombastic homage to the iconic Gucci Mane joint “Lemonade” while the penultimate track “Wilshire” works in some dusty drums & mellow synths speaking on a failed relationship he had with his homie’s girl for damn near 9 minutes. Finally, the closer “Safari” triumphantly speaks on his influence & impact on music featuring co-production from Jay Versace.

Every album Tyler has ever put out sounds completely different than one another & Call Me If You Get Lost is a fine addition to his discography. He goes back into a more hip hop-based sound in comparison to the poppy vibes of IGOR, but it feels like a throwback to the Gangsta Grillz mixtape days with DJ Drama’s narrations & dude is at his best in terms of the bars on here.

Score: 4.5/5

Tyler, The Creator – “IGOR” review

This is the 6th full-length album from California rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, music video director & designer: Tyler, The Creator. Who rose to international stardom at the beginning of the decade as the de facto leader of the now defunct collective Odd Future with the help of the music video of his breakout single “Yonkers”. Last time we heard Tyler in a long capacity was in 2017 with the release of Flower Boy. Easily his magnum opus & one of the greatest hip hop albums of this decade, where we saw his full artistic & personal evolution with personal lyrics & colorful production. Tyler even saw fit to drop an EP this past winter to coincide with The Grinch & while that was ok, it seems like he’s ready to deliver his long-awaited follow-up to Flower Boy.

The album kicks off with “IGOR’S THEME”, which is a repetitive yet entrancing piece with an instrumental that keeps making well-constructed turns left & right. The next song “EARFQUAKE” with Playboi Carti sees the 2 telling their significant others that they need them in their lives over a atmospheric beat while the track “I THINK” is a catchy love tune with a synth-funk instrumental. After the “EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING” skit, we go into the song “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”. Where Tyler calls out his ex’s true colors over a spacey beat. The track “NEW MAGIC WAND” sees Tyler begging his lover not to dump him over a noisy beat while the song “A BOY IS A GUN” is a soulful tune where Tyler is telling this person he’s here for them.

The track “PUPPET” with Kanye West talks about being controlled by a lover over a blissful instrumental while the song “WHAT’S GOOD” vents about depression over a beat that starts off eerie, but later switches into something more chaotic. The track “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” starts off as a sunny R&B tune about how his love’s no longer here, but then it transitions into an interlude where Tyler is thanking this ex of his. The penultimate track “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” is of course a breakup anthem with a punchy yet meditative beat & then the album ends with “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?”, where Tyler & Pharrell team up to deliver a slow yet beautiful R&B cut with a fitting Al Green sample.

As I expected from the snippets, this a nice change of pace. Tyler’s going into a more neo-soul direction while fusing it with the sounds of his 2015 album Cherry Bomb. You could compare it to M.I.A.’s ΛΛ Λ Y Λ because Kala & Flower Boy were M.I.A. & Tyler’s most accessible albums & both of them turned around to deliver their most experimental efforts yet. Just another example of why T is the most creative recording artists of this decade. Here’s to whatever he has coming in 2021.

Score: 4.5/5

Earl Sweatshirt – “Some Rap Songs” review

Earl Sweatshirt is a 24 year old MC & producer from Los Angeles, California who began his career in 2008 under the name Sly Tendencies. He posted a handful of tracks for a mixtape called Kitchen Cutlery on MySpace, but the tape would never be released to this day. Then he formed a rap trio with 2 of his friends called The Backpackerz & planned to release a mixtape together titled World Playground, but they disbanded sometime in 2009. Shortly after, he joined Odd Future & appeared on their 2nd & final mixtape Radical that May. 10 months later, he put out his only mixtape to date Earl with OF’s de facto leader Tyler, The Creator producing a bulk of it. The tape received a lot of buzz, but Earl’s mother would send him to a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys in Samoa sometime after until February of 2012. He was then granted his own Columbia Records imprint Tan Cressida Records & released his debut album Doris in 2013 to critical acclaim for his clever rhyme schemes & the gritty production from those such as The Neptunes & even the RZA. He then formed the duo Hog Slaughta Boyz with OF affiliate Na’kel at the beginning of 2015 & released his sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside a couple months after. Many of which consider to be better than Doris for it’s darker aesthetic. He’s been laying low since then but with the deaths of his father Keorapetse Kgositsile as well as his his uncle Hugh Masekela & his friend Mac Miller earlier this year, he’s putting out his highly anticipated 3rd album.

The album begins with “Shattered Dreams”, where Earl discusses his comeback over a soul sample. The next track “Red Water” serves as a short yet equally gratifying sequel to Solace while the song “Cold Summers” uses some clever gun imagery over a mellow instrumental. The track “Nowhere2Go” talks about depression over a glitchy abstract instrumental while the song “December 24” gets intellectually conscious over a Denmark Vessey instrumental with a prominently gloomy piano sample. The track “Ontheway!” talks about his mood swinging over a smooth guitar sample while “The Mint” with Navy Blue sees the 2 talking about fighting their demons over an amazing piano loop.

“The Bends” touches down on his success over a soul sample & some strings while the song “Loosie” seems to talk about a backstabber over a slow yet funky beat. The track “Azucar” talks about how he’s been coping with his depression over a blissful instrumental while the song “Eclipse” is about him missing his shine. The track “Veins” talks about keeping faith over an AMAZING Curtis Mayfield sample & after the heartwarming “Playing Possum” interlude from Earl’s parents, the penultimate track “Peanut” discusses the deaths of Keorapetse & Hugh over a settle yet dark beat. The album ends with “Riot!”, which is an instrumental cut heavily sampling the Hugh Masekela song with the same name.

This has been one of my most anticipated albums of 2018 & at the end, Earl has just given what I believe to be the best album I’ve heard all year. I’m a little disappointed that it’s only 25 minutes long, but the Madvillainy influenced production is super creative & Earl continues to prove himself as the 2nd best lyricist of the decade (#1 of course being Kendrick Lamar) by cleverly detailing the darkest year of his life.

Score: 4.5/5

Tyler, The Creator – “Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” review

Tyler, The Creator is a 27 year old rapper, producer & music video director from Ladera Heights, California who rose to prominence as the co-founder & de facto leader of the alternative hip hop collective Odd Future in 2011 with the viral success of the track “Yonkers” off his debut album Goblin. In 2015 though, OF broke off to focus on their solo careers in 2015 with Earl Sweatshirt’s sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside & The Internet’s 3rd album Ego Death being WAY better than Tyler’s disheveled 3rd album Cherry Bomb. However, he really showed maturity & artistic evolution with his last album Flower Boy that came out last July. He’s been on a 1-project every 2 years schedule since he dropped his only mixtape to date Bastard on Christmas 2009 but almost a decade later, he’s dropping his very 1st EP inspired by the new Grinch movie.

The opener “Whoville” is a luscious piano piece & then the first actual song “Lights On” sees T getting with Santigold & Ryan Beatty to tell 3 different situations on their way back home over some synths & explosive drums. The track “Hot Chocolate” is a smooth ode to the titular drink while the song “Big Bag” sums up the main plot points of the film over a somber beat. The track “When Gloves Come Off” is a predominantly blissful instrumental piece with some decent singing during it’s first leg & then the closer “Cindy Lou’s Wish” is pretty much a hypnotic instrumental.

As much as I love Tyler, this was just ok. The instrumentals feel like leftovers from Flower Boy & even though I like them a lot, I’m not gonna be dying to come back to them since they’re mostly packaged with lyrics clearly commissioned for a holiday blockbuster.

Score: 3/5

Tyler, The Creator – “Scum Fuck Flower Boy” review

After dropping the horrendously mixed Cherry Bomb on us back in 2015, Odd Future de facto leader Tyler, The Creator is finally returning with his 4th full-length album. The opener “Foreward” sees Tyler asking a bunch of questions & addressing his fear of potentially falling off over a guitar along with some wavy synthesizers. The Rex Orange County bridge & outro aren’t too bad, either. The next track “Where This Flower Blooms” then reflects on his from being in the center to driving around Cali over some strings that kick it off along with some piano keys & a couple synths sprinkled in, too. As for the Frank Ocean hook, I think I like a lot more than the hook he did for “Caught Their Eyes” off of JAY-Z’s latest album 4:44. After a 36 second Golf Radio skit with “Sometimes…”, we are then treated to the next song on the track listing called “See You Again”. Here, Tyler is singing then later rapping about being in dream state with a lover forever over an instrumental that’s mostly symphonic, but throws in some monstrous bass in once Tyler begins rapping. I also like how the hook from Kali Uchis compliments Tyler’s desires. The track “Who Dat Boy?” sees both T & A$AP Rocky getting braggadocious over an abrasive beat & it shows perfect chemistry between the 2. Especially during the final verse. The song “Pothole” uses driving as a metaphor for success over a synth funk beat & surprisingly, the Jaden Smith hook doesn’t bother me like I originally thought it was going to. The track “Garden Shed” is basically T coming out as bisexual & I absolutely love the melancholically toned instrumental progresses as the song continues. The Estelle feature on here is beautiful as well. The song “Boredom” with Rex & Anna of the North expresses his desires to find time to do something & being over his friends & the instrumental is mellow as Hell. The track “I Ain’t Got the Time!” straightforwardly tells us that Tyler doesn’t fuck with phonies over an instrumental with a surprising Middle Eastern influence. Also can’t forget to mention the “I’ve been kissing white boys since 2004” line that some media outlets were making a big deal of when the album leaked a couple weeks ago. The song “911 / Mr. Lonely” starts off with Tyler & Frank informing their respective lovers to give them call sometime over a funky beat, but then it perfectly translations to just Tyler venting about being lonely over a more hard hitting yet very spacey beat. The 1-minute “Droppin’ Seeds” is mostly dominated by a short verse from Lil Wayne over with a jazzy yet spacey instrumental & while some may be turned off by that, he does compliment the album by delivering what I think is one of his hardest verses in a long time. The song “November” has a somber beat & it sees Tyler venting about if he’s “hustling backwards” or if his manager Christian Clancy is doing him dirty. He even sends a message to his lover, even though he knows that he or she isn’t gonna answer his calls. The penultimate track “Glitter” then continues where the previous one left off & the way the beat along Tyler’s voice & delivery changes halfway through it was well incorporated. This magnum opus then closes out with “Enjoy Right Now, Today”, which is a 4 minute instrumental track that I guarantee will make you feel good as soon as it starts. There are also some background vocals from T’s musical idol Pharrell during the last couple minutes or so that are just as pleasant to the ears. When I referred to this album as a “magnum opus” right before I started talking about the final track, I really think it is Tyler’s best work yet. It’s mature, it’s honest, it sounds more luscious than ever & it’ll truly amaze you to see how much he’s grown from his Bastard mixtape to this. I know Tyler was known for using homophobic terms early on in his career & he trolls too but if he really is bisexual, then I think we should all embrace him for it. Give this thing a listen as soon as you can, because is truly is the album of the summer in my eyes

Score: 4.5/5