Identity Crisis

nytimes.com

A few years ago Earl Sweatshirt became an enigma.  As a member of the whirlwind Odd Future crew, he released a handful of shock value bars about rape and vomit, then vanished into the night.  Tyler, The Creator had finally struck gold.  The legend grew through the release of Earl, a mixtape showcasing the young spitter’s knack for piling on the syllables over dark, aired out production.  Once Earl’s mom sent him away for acting like a fool on YouTube, the rest simply unfolded.

Fast forward a few months, bypass the chatter, and Doris, Earl’s proper debut is here.  Is he comfortable settling?  Would he rather shine?  Or is he simply working to illuminate the wild-boy personality the world first met?  I can’t call it.  The standouts here don’t outweigh the filler, and the features never end.  The record feels cluttered and doesn’t give Earl a chance to breathe.  When on,  like the introspective “Chum”, the all-too-brief “Uncle Al” and “Hive”, he’s on fire, but too frequently he’s trading verses with guests who sound half-asleep and bored to death.

Don’t we all really want Earl to grab the mic and stand in the spotlight?  He’s the future of his oddly weak crew, and that pressure bubbles up all over Doris.  He needs to show out on a consistent basis, and strike before the fickle fans move on to the next big thing.

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