The world of hip-hop was gifted a gem on August 20th, 2013. Full of potential, hoppy youthful production and rapping beyond his years (Earl was 19 when he released debut studio album ‘Doris‘) the project garnered mass acclaim and is still in daily rotation of lots of hip-hop playlists. Combining lyrics full of relatable sentiments, witty remarks and bespoke observations with vibrant production endorsed by unrelenting waves of slapping bass, ‘Doris‘ instantly stood out not only as a seminal record, but as a great example of how to achieve the continuously sought after ‘modern’ sound, with meaningful content that delivers messages aplenty, front to back.
I remember quite clearly venturing to my nearest HMV (a good half an hour drive, or hour-long bus ride to the next town) and picking up a physical copy of ‘Doris‘, feeling so chuffed with the score and being so impatient to get home and blast it. I was totally blown away, and still am when I let the velvet smooth tones of ‘Burgundy‘ bop their way through my speakers, with Vince Staples‘ comedic yet harshly true spoken introduction setting the stage for Earl to do his thang:
“What’s up, n*gga? Why you so depressed and sad all the time like a little bitch? What’s the problem, man? N*ggas want to hear you rap. Don’t nobody care about how you feel, we want raps, n*gga.“
You could have easily believed ‘Doris‘ was Earl‘s second or third studio project, for the balance it attains between that striking rawness that is often what debut albums are full of, with the wonderfully tone-setting production and incredibly mature approach at topics dealt with and command of lyrics & wordplay. From the very off ‘Doris‘ was out to stamp it’s mark: ‘Pre‘ holds countless memories for me and is a song I never grow tired off, for starters that incredible, booming bass just doesn’t stop slapping yo’ face and the intro verse from Sk La Flare sets things off majestically, leading to a slight pause before Earl steps in and steps up. The beat feels harder somehow for that brief inter-verse pause and you feel like you’re receiving hip-hop gospel of a ballistic nature, enticed and held in captivation from his first line as he proclaims: “I’m a problem to n*ggas. Pop artillery, the carbonates with him”