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Label: Tan Cressida, Columbia Records
In making his official debut album, Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt turned his back on the shock-raps of his younger years. In their place, on Doris, he substitutes more substantial and personal verses that showcase his self-awareness and honest (at times, harsh) perspective on life.
Dude is cerebral. His delivery is complicated and coded, with layered, shifting cadences on songs like "Guild." His content floats effortlessly in the chasm between earthiness and the metaphysical. Tracks like "Uncle Al" and "Sunday" display a narrative that is confident, but on guard. Despite the meticulous constructions, his verses are haloed by a faint air of carelessness. Sonically the album is a mostly shadowy selection of drum-driven beats with almost absent melodies. The entire album leaves you feeling like you're steaming roach blunts in you're homie's basement 'cause it's raining outside.
He does all of this to the point where it almost seems selfish. This album sounds like it was made as much for Earl as it was for the his fans—maybe more. But as a result, we get the unfiltered artist, clear of any impurities that might water down his product. These bars aren't stepped on, as he describes his adjustment (and resistance) to fame, personal relationships, and dedication to his craft—all while flexing his evolved technical ability. Doris gave us a second impression that felt like a first meeting, familiarizing us with one of today's most enigmatic rappers. —Brandon "Jinx" Jenkins