Thebe Kgositsile, known to most as Earl Sweatshirt, has been on a weird ride throughout his career. The MC is just 19 years old and released the follow-up to his debut mixtape, entitled Doris, this past Tuesday, August 20. But the story of Earl Sweatshirt and how this album came to fruition is an odd one -- pun intended.
He achieved moderate success with Odd Future when his mixtape, Earl, was released back in 2010. Earl was then abruptly sent away to a Samoan reform school by his mother for reasons unknown to the public, and the rest of the Odd Future crew rose to fame. In many ways, Earl Sweatshirt was never out of the public eye -- the mystery of his disappearance and the Odd Future crew’s continuous support of Earl added fuel to the large fire created by OFWGKTA. As a result, Doris is arguably the most anticipated album that any member of the hip-hop collective has released.
The album is generally what we have all come to expect from Earl Sweatshirt: dark and introverted, lyrically as well as musically. In fact, Doris is named after Earl’s deceased grandmother, which should be enough to indicate the tone of the album. However, Doris has received generally positive reviews so far.
A review by Pitchfork states that Earl’s comeback album is “shockingly insular and unassuming” and that “Earl remains self-deprecating throughout.” The LA Times says the album is definitely worth repeat listens, stating that, in addition to Earl’s unique style and flow, “Doris features instrumental interludes, expanded mid-song diversions and enough surprise to warrant repeated - obsessive - listens.”
Perhaps the most detailed and telling review comes from Stereogum, complete with insights about Earl’s past and how those memories contributed to the making of Doris. The review ends by stating that “Earl’s mind is old. That’s good. He’ll need an old mind to navigate the absurd fame-world he found when he came home.” Navigating that newfound fame has likely taken its toll on the young rapper, and it shows on Doris.
What’s next for Earl Sweatshirt? We hope it’s more music.
You can listen to new songs from Earl Sweatshirt on Tha Fixx Radio, SXSWfm’s hip-hop specialty show hour airing every Wednesday at 6am, 12pm, and 6pm, Thursdays at 12am, and Saturdays at 10pm, all CDT.
Photo by James Cano