NEW ON YOUR PLAYLIST: Earl Sweatshirt

06 September 2013 - 03:02 By Pearl Boshomane
Image: SUPPLIED

Earl Sweatshirt made his name as a member of the uber-hip Los Angeles music collective Odd Future, whose most famous members are Tyler, The Creator and Grammy winner Frank Ocean.

But Sweatshirt (real name Thebe Kgositsile) is probably the most talented of the lot. Following his acclaimed 2010 mixtape Earl, he releases Doris, his debut studio album (which is on a major label, Columbia).

While it feels like his peer Tyler raps about certain things just to be provocative, Sweatshirt sounds like he's rapping about less palatable topics not for attention, but because they are part of his life.

There is a certain honesty in the 19-year-old rapper's lyrics, whether he is talking about the artistic pressures that come with being the son of a poet (South Africa's own Keorapetse Kgositsile) or being too busy recording Doris to grieve for his grandmother's passing (the album is named after her), both of which he does on the track Burgundy.

Unlike EarlDoris features no gratuitously-violent lyrics – Sweatshirt is not trying to be Tyler (who makes a guest appearance on the track Sasquatch).

The album's tempo is slow burning and chilled out, but with a lot going on (some of the songs have thick, heavy beats that sound like the soundtrack to an artsy horror flick), much like Sweatshirt's rapping style.

He doesn't have much of a flow – it really feels as though he is just talking over the beats – but it works. Earl Sweatshirt doesn't have to rely on shock tactics to get the listener's attention because he's a highly-intelligent wordsmith with an impressive gift for puns and double entrendes.

Perhaps poetic brilliance is genetic. 

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