Album: Doris
Label: Tan Cressida, Columbia 
Producer: Christian Rich

“Chum” begins with a scream. It’s brief and barely audible, half a second at most. It doesn’t belong to Earl Sweatshirt. Instead, he offers two of the best verses in the Odd Future catalog. The rhymes are lucid and deftly written autobiography, the portrait of a broken and perpetually bristling young writer, detailing everything from the incalculable emotional damage of growing up without his father to the rise of OF and his return from Samoan exile. Each event is sketched with incisive wordplay and a precociously wise perspective, Earl’s dead-eyed delivery never wavering. Co-produced with duo Christian Rich, the beat is built around a plaintive piano loop, the propulsive drums and dirty bass both as raw as the open wounds Earl attempts to cauterize. “Chum” was the first of three singles on Doris; all were antithetical to commercial rap radio playlists. Still, the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Rap Albums chart. Other rappers might have to scream regularly, but Earl’s never had to.