Earl Sweatshirt "Earl" (2010)
Producer: Tyler, The Creator
Arriving, in typical teenage fashion, to piss people off, gross people out and prove they were a hell of a lot smarter than anyone would give them credit for, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All irreverently barged into rap at a time when the genre was sagging under the weight of, in ringleader Tyler, the Creator's words, 40-year-old rappers talking about Gucci. "Earl" was the collective's most jarring and immediate mission statement, a gleefully intricate and absurdly perverted lyrical exercise accompanied by a shocking, gonzo-style video of the group pulling out teeth, vomiting and going into seizures from a mystery drug cocktail.
Over a rumbling, disconcerting bassline, Earl seized listeners' attention from the opening salvo of "I'm a hot and bothered astronaut crashing while jacking off to buffering vids of Asher Roth eating apple sauce" and kept it, delivering new verbal acrobatics with every line. And then, the 16-year-old rapper disappeared, fueling the legend of the song and encouraging speculation that its twisted content had gotten him sent off to boot camp (sort of trueâ€”he ended up at a reform school in Samoa, in part because his music concerned his mother). The 19-year-old Earl has since mostly disavowed this era of his career and is preparing an equally promising debut album, but this track remains an unforgettable document of the emergence of one of contemporary hip-hop's most talented teenage voices.