Captain Murphy-Between Villains ft. DOOM and Earl Sweatshirt

Pseudonym city. As many will know, Murphy is the rapping alter-ego of Flying Lotus, whose production credentials seep into mainstream consciousness with each passing day, whilst DOOM is credited as Viktor Vaughn, one of his many alternative handles.

Comprised of light piano melodies, distant guitar plucks, creepy vocal samples and a few other in-and-out additions, the production is dark, bleak, and downright eerie throughout- an ideal platform for the deadpan deliveries of all involved. Vaughn opens up with a very likeable verse, packing in some very impressive internal rhyme schemes that give his verse a very natural bounce, whilst his comparatively higher pitch leads Earl’s more dulcet tones in excellently, who himself follows up with a solid verse, though not quite on par with his predecessor here. Murphy closes out by lowering the pitch even further with his distorted effect, giving the track’s sonics a natural downward progression that works to create a deep, ‘next level of hell’ type effect, before he switches back to his regular voice to close off another enjoyable verse. 3 verses of good quality, and a grim, gritty production that would be fit to soundtrack any horror movie or bad mood, and it’s another great release from the Adult Swim Singles series.

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Earl Sweatshirt-Doris (Full Album Stream)

For a release that was highly anticipated around a year or so ago, it has to be said that the buzz for it doesn’t quite seem at the fever pitch many would have expected. Nonetheless, Earl’s talent is undeniable, and the lack of furore surrounding it might allow the LP to be absorbed for the breakout rap album it could very well become.

His Odd Future teammates are along for the ride, with Frank Ocean, Tyler, The Creator and Domo Genesis appearing alongside frequent OF collaborators Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, whilst Mac Miller and RZA also tag along for the ride. Undoubtedly though, this one’s all about Earl for most listeners, and whilst those features are a nice bonus, there’s a ton of expectation on Earl given the glimpses of ability we’ve been allowed to see thus far. Fingers crossed, this LP holds up and we’ve got another young talent to add to hip-hop’s growing roster. Stream below.

Earl Sweatshirt-Doris

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Earl Sweatshirt-Hive ft. Casey Veggies and Vince Staples (Video)

Regular collaborators with the Odd Future clan and now contributors to Earl’s upcoming Doris album, Vince and Casey come along for the latest release from that LP. Due for release on 20th August, it’s certainly an album hip-hop heads are anticipating, and this effort should whet the appetite until then.

First thing many will notice is Earl’s flow approach- comparisons will be drawn with Tyler, The Creator’s deadpan, dulcet style, and that familiar delivery actually allows Earl’s smarter lyrical work to shine through. He’s backed by a dark, ominous production throughout, with its minimal stylings built up on chunky bass, crisp cymbals and a dash of melody; there’s not a lot to it, and it creates a rather eerie soundscape that suits Earl’s moody flow very well. Vince Staples’ more nasal style makes for a good switch away from that dark style, with his arrogant nature adding a touch of regularity to this relatively leftfield piece.

The video’s a relatively simple one, with plenty of darkness throughout capturing the audio’s uneasy vibe, whilst the sporadic bits of high activity with the bike riders and loose dogs adds a touch of threat to proceedings. A grim, haunting effort that sets Doris up well.

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Earl Sweatshirt-Guild ft. Mac Miller

earl sweatshirt
Earl’s gearing up for that Doris release, and having performed several previously-unheard songs during live shows in recent months, we get the latest studio release from the album here.

A lot of hip-hop fans struggle to get into the distorted vocal modulator effect that some rappers have favoured in recent years (of course, popularised in that time by Tyler, The Creator), so you’re probably going to want to skip this one. I’m generally OK with it, and though eventually some of the smart lines both send across come through well, here the distortion adversely affects their ability to properly inflect their raps and just seems to be laid on way too thick. The similarities that the modulator creates in their pitch does rather cleverly make it tough to tell who’s who on the track, which is a fun novelty but it’s hardly what you’d expect to look for in a hip-hop track and isn’t enough to recover it. The laidback production is a relatively metronomic piece that doesn’t boast any particular highlights, and plodding through offering support to the raps rather than enhancing or outdoing them. It’s not like rap needed an Autotune equivalent but it’s found one, and here it detracts from what might have been an otherwise likeable track.

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Harry Fraud-Yacht Lash ft. Earl Sweatshirt and Riff Raff

He’s been one of the go-to producers for several mainstream acts in the last 18 months, and as Harry Fraud prepares to release his High Tide project on 7th May, he enlists Earl and Riff Raff to help out with that project’s latest release.

Remember Goldeneye on the N64? If you remember the second Surface level, this sounds like that looks: dark, wintery and generally pretty cold (minus the threat of unexpected gunfire). The wispy synths spread atmosphere throughout the track at will, whilst their more intense brethren help to create a grim, more eerie vibe that makes for a brooding, slightly unpredictable backdrop. Earl’s got bags of versatility and he takes to this production well, with his deadpan style making for a good complement to that production and allowing his lyrical work to enjoy more spotlighting than his flow. Admittedly, it gets a tad monotonous at points, but it’s not for a lack of synchronicity with the production, and even at its worst it’s significantly better than Riff Raff’s contribution, which seems to come on a much livelier angle that doesn’t ever settle down properly into the beat. All in all, it’s not exactly easy listening, but it’s probably worth it for the Earl fans.

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Tyler, The Creator-Wolf (Full Album Stream)

Wolf lands officially tomorrow, and for those of you who’ve avoided any leaks and such, you can check out the entire 18-track LP here. From a very brief listen to a few of the tracks, there’s a marked maturity in his music, and in keeping with the two previously-released tracks, the dichotomy of Tyler’s chaotic and introspective sides are represented well. The maturity comes in the form of the weighting-it seems as though the album’s highlight tracks (and those said by Tyler to be his favourites) lean more toward the reflective side of his work, and there’s no doubt he’s delivered well on that front in that past.

Features include Pharrell, Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu, Coco O of Quadron, Casey Veggies, Earl Sweatshirt and a handful more of the Odd Future clan. Plenty of promise, and you can preview the LP below before making your purchase decision tomorrow.

Tyler, The Creator-Wolf (Full Album Stream)

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Earl Sweatshirt-Woah ft. Tyler, the Creator (Video)

Earl’s been sporadically releasing new material since his return to the Odd Future fold from his oft-discussed hiatus, and now releases the latest video from his upcoming solo album, Doris.

N****s think cause you f**kin’ made Chum and got all personal that n****s won’t go back to that old f**kin’ 2010 shit. Tyler’s intro sums this one up quite well, as its a departure from the mature, reflective Chum and instead has Earl back on the jagged, leftfield style the group rose with. As a result, Earl’s raps focus less on message-laden raps in mesmerising flows, and instead packs punchlines into a staccato-style delivery that works well with the percussion-heavy production. It’s certainly not Earl at his absolute best, but it is him making the sort of tracks the original Odd Future fans originally loved the clan for.

The video’s packed with the typically-bizarre Odd Future style, from the rather aged ballerina to Lucas eating an ice cream rather aggressively, and much like the audio it has the hallmarks of what made them so likeable in the first place. From rolling around in shopping carts to just skating around and generally causing chaos, it’s that reckless abandon which caused such a stir, and still makes for a fun watch. Throw in a hook that’ll be anthemic for the OFWGKTA supporters, and this is one their longtime fans will appreciate more than the hip-hop purists might.

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Earl Sweatshirt-Chum (Video)

Heralded as Earl’s first ‘official’ release since his return to the Odd Future fold (there were of course, a couple of features and solo leaks before it), I gave this one a bit of a neutral response on its release a month ago but have since come to really appreciate it.

The introspection in the lyrics is quite heavily downplayed by the jaunty production and monotonous flow style, and hence it’s easy to underappreciate it. None of us will make that mistake after giving this video a look. From the monochrome filter to the subdued, near-depressed nature Earl shows throughout the video, there’s a seriousness and submissiveness here that fills in the emotional gaps the audio alone created. The stream of consciousness style of the raps is visualised well as Earl appears to be in a dream or sleep state, floating along and seemingly oblivious to the goings-on around him, instead just reciting his lyrics or thoughts. A rather reflective piece that clearly shows Earl’s capabilities lie beyond the lighthearted Odd Future style.

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Earl Sweatshirt-Chum

Always nice to get something new from the very talented Earl of Odd Future, and whilst his releases since his return have been minimal in quantity, he’s clearly demonstrated that he’s got magnificent potential.

Due to release his major label debut next year, it’s a good time to get his solo bandwagon properly rolling, and this is a nice jump off point. The production is fairly laidback, with slow rolling percussion met by rather reflective work on the keys, and that’s pretty much all there is as far as the beat goes. That minimalistic approach turns all of the spotlight on his raps, with the content being mostly autobiographical and hence making for a rare and engaging look into the reclusive rapper, whilst his laidback flow takes the sting out of what are often quite bitter and downbeat raps.

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Domo Genesis and The Alchemist-No Idols

Having released a feature-heavy track from this project a few weeks back, the whole thing drops unannounced for our listening pleasure.

This is likely to be a real breakthrough project for Domo, as whilst his rapping skills are commended by many, his weed raps and heavy OFWGKTA association always put up a slight barrier to wider acclaim. Working with Alchemist and the slew of hip-hop heavies on this tape will undoubtedly do wonders for his image in the rap scene, and I’m hopeful his raps are up to scratch to complement what are likely to be consistently-excellent Alchemist beats. 11 tracks make up this one, giving Domo plenty of opportunity to put out some strong music, and you can download this for free below.

Domo Genesis and The Alchemist-No Idols

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Domo Genesis and The Alchemist-Elimination Chamber ft. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples and Action Bronson

Two of Odd Future’s best MCs hook up with Bronson and Staples over an Alchemist beat, and the result is a solid track from Domo and Alchemist’s upcoming No Idols EP that’ll make it onto many hip-hop heads’ playlists.

Alchemist serves up a very stripped back beat, relying on minimal percussion, bass plucks that sound fresh out of the 1920′s, and a consistent, high-pitched melody that has an almost horror-esque influence. Each rapper certainly gives a good account of themselves, with Domo adding some energy to his ‘high raps’, Earl oozing quality with his laidback delivery, Vince making a good impression with what’s probably his biggest feature, and Bronson closing the track out with another brash, punchy verse. Four straight verses, no frills hip-hop.

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Frank Ocean-Channel Orange (Full Album Stream)

Anticipated doesn’t even begin to describe it. Frank’s album has long been the talk of the industry, and with it being officially released next Tuesday, he took to his Tumblr to let loose of an official stream of the album.

I’ve always viewed artists making full LP streams available as a confident move, and for the relatively humble Frank Ocean to drop this off early suggests he’s got full belief in his body of work here. Not only that, but it’s generally clever: many people that illegally download albums do so as a ‘sampler’, so they know whether to go out and buy the CD, and this almost removes that first step.

I’ll drop off a full album review in the coming days, but one very quick playthrough suggests none of us will be disappointed with this, and the classic (too early?) Frank Ocean formula is in full effect. I’d like to avoid any more premature hype and such so I’ll not comment too much on the individual quality of the tracks, and frankly you can do it yourself with the stream available in this very post, and a comments section below should you be so inclined.

The album has been given an early US and UK iTunes release today, ahead of the official CD release next Tuesday. You can pick it up here if you can’t wait for that CD release (or just want both!).

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Frank Ocean-Channel Orange Artwork and Tracklist

One of the most anticipated projects of the year, and the artwork and tracklist for Frank Ocean’s debut album were revealed late last night.

The artwork is pretty minimal, in keeping with Frank’s generally unfussy nature, and whilst it probably won’t inspire any artistic visions, it will certainly catch the attention of shoppers when sitting on the shelves.

The tracklist contains a few tracks Frank fans will recognise, including the much-loved Thinkin Bout You, the recently-released Pyramids, and a new version of White, his solo effort on the recent Odd Future Tape Vol. 2, that features John Mayer. The other features on the album are both noteworthy, as Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt and the legendary Andre 3000 join up with Frank to offer a helping hand. One notable is how many of the track titles seem to be related to those around them (5, 6 and 7 for example), and I hope that leads to some storytelling theme across the album. Click below to see the full 17-track list.
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