Earl Sweatshirt might as well be rapping in a different language. The rest of this year’s hip hop stars have largely followed a similar formula: one of vicious repetition over booming bass drums. Even rappers praised for their technical prowess, like Vince Staples or Meek Mill, have played by the rulebook.
But on “Some Rap Songs,” released yesterday, Earl barely raps in time. His loops are dusty and full of static; I’ve had the record on repeat and can barely discern whether he’s ignoring the beat or working on some higher level of subdivisions. It’s disorienting and hypnotic.
But as alien as “Some Rap Songs” might seem in the modern landscape, Earl himself would reject the dichotomy I’ve set up. “I did download the Pi’erre kit,” he said in a Vulture interview this week, referencing the Playboy Carti producer who’s been at the center of the current Soundcloud sound. “Holla at me if you need slaps.” Earl doesn’t really turn his nose up at his competition— it informs his music at its core.
So for this month’s playlist I’ve interspersed Earl’s album with 14 of my favorite recent trap songs, hopefully to accentuate both the difference and commonalities.