Review: Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Doris’ is worth repeated listens


Musical obsessions are some of life’s great pleasures, and “Doris,” the latest album by Los Angeles rapper and Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, 19, has lived in my car at huge volume for a month now.

I’ll confess to crawling up next to cars blasting “Molasses,” a dubby, reggae-rolling jam co-produced by RZA and Christian Rich, sonic humble-bragging my way through L.A. I know the nooks and crannies of this baby — Earl rapping “new patterns, paddy-caking with mannequins” while a spooky organ hums out a carousel melody on “20 Wave Caps,” for instance — and the moments of joy I’ve discovered are notable.

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Some are tiny, but part of huge narratives: Of one weed-smoking character, Earl raps: “Kept the sticky in the Stussy pouch.” Autobiographical tidbits blossom with linguistically acrobatic lines. “Hide away in the shade of his maimed innocence/Suitcase scented with haze and filleted sentences,” raps Earl on “Whoa.”

Surprisingly, these moments are both musical and lyrical and feature grand appearances by a roster including Vince Staples, the Neptunes, Casey Veggies and Frank Ocean (the latter on the album’s best track, “Sunday”). Earl, born Thebe Kgositsile, might be best known for his precocious way around a rhyme, but “Doris” features instrumental interludes, expanded mid-song diversions and enough surprise to warrant repeated — obsessive — evaluation.

Earl Sweatshirt


(Tan Cressida/Sony)

Four stars (out of four)