This past Friday Earl Sweatshirt, also known as Thebe Kgositsile, released his third studio album ‘Some Rap Songs’. Sitting at 15 songs and 24 minutes the first impression is why so short? Most songs clocking less than 2 minutes the content is short but heavy, not a word or second misused or wasted. Instead of adding fat and extra songs to add to stream numbers as most are doing he removes it, leaving only exactly what he wants to say. Off a first listen the album almost comes off as an ode to low-fi hip hop. Each beat is sample heavy and reminiscent with loops and samples that would make Madlib proud and you hear it in the first song ‘Shattered Dreams’
Lyrically the album serves more as a personal therapy session than a collection of songs. Dealing with the biggest issue we all must fight which is the man in the mirror. “Muffled my pain and my muzzled my brain up” “I think I spend most of my life depressed, only thing on my mind was death” Earl lost his father, renowned South African poet and political activists Keorapetse Kgositsile, in January of this year and his friend Malcolm McCormick, also known as Mac Miller in September. Earls dad is referenced many times on the album most notably on the track’ Playing Possum’ which features both his mother and father speaking, in unison, his mother giving thanks to family and friends while his father speaks quietly in the back.
With lines like “spending more than I make stuck in Trump-land” and “Show you right it took some passages to get grown“ Earl has to deal with the mundane issues of a 20 something trying to figure how to navigate a life we don’t understand, with the extra difficulties of death and the confusion that comes with it. The weight at times seems too heavy and ‘Azucar’ severs as the focal point of these issues and how Earl works to get through them.
Songs like “The bends” and “Riot!” play as acceptances of the peace that life might bring. “Bend we don’t break, we not the bank we all we got” he raps on the bends. Riot! is the last song on the album and it features no vocals, just a guitar sample followed with some drums and a little bit of horns, it sounds happy and cheerful and ends creeping back into a darker state. As the album closes we come t the realization this album isn’t for fun or to flex, Earl is here to speak his peace and trying to exercise his demons, in the best way he can, with Some Rap Songs.
-Nick de Almenara