For some, Earl Sweatshirt’s new project Feet of Clay will be a huge let down. But for others, it will be the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like this project really draws the line in the sand in terms of the kind of legacy Earl is wanting to create with his career. Listeners’ opinions will certainly be spread across the spectrum, with songs on the project that starkly contrast the sound that we are accustomed to hearing from an album drop in 2019.
No matter your personal stance on the project, there are plenty of clues that suggest Earl doesn’t give a fuck what people want to hear from him right now. Why else would you feature an artist like Mach Homey on your project? Homey has gone to great extents to make his music as inaccessible as possible, selling singles and projects on Bandcamp for thousands of dollars at a time. This tells me that Earl wants to be free to collaborate with whoever the hell he wants, and rap over 60 bpm lo-fi carnival beats as well if he wants to.
Earl might very well be the greatest wordsmith of our generation right now, and he proves it by releasing an album that has virtually no commercial appeal with absolutely zero fucks given or real explanation. Instead, he lets his work speak for itself and it is up to the fans to decide whether it makes the playlists or not.
It’s hard for me to determine if Earl is intentionally turning to a more subdued style of music production, or he’s just being lazy. His earlier works Doris and I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside feel more polished; whereas the Earl we’ve seen in Some Rap Songs and his newest EP Feet of Clay seems totally unconcerned with the ultimate listener. Feet of Clay feels like seven cuts that didn’t make it onto SRS, suggesting that Earl may be done innovating.
Feet of Clay feels loosely thrown together, the production is jarring and generally feels out of place. It feels like Earl writes these stellar lyrics and doesn’t spend as much time thinking about how the beat will fit in. The strength of Earl’s lyricism contrasts with lax production, creating a rift between the listening experience. Earl Sweatshirt has always been a disruptive force in the rap game; but as a once devout fan, I feel myself drifting away from his most recent music, finding it harder to determine if the disorderly nature of the EP is intentional or a product of indifference. Regardless, I am glad he’s still writing and making music, but I would prefer a change in the direction of Earl’s production.
This EP displays again how Earl’s unique word play and production is a diamond in the rough of today’s hip hop music. Be prepared for an active listening experience from the jump. Right from the start of “74”, I was trying to catch up to Earl’s flow as he skated across the track, dropping clever lines poking fun at himself saying, “You like Amar’e Stoudemire with dreads”. He flows right to the next song in the fashion of last year’s Some Rap Songs. There are similar stories of coming of age as Earl dropping lines like, “Guess I was right, twenty-five was a quarter to life”. My favorite songs have to be “El Toro Combo Meal” and “Tisk Tisk/Cookies”.
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