Inside The Making Of Our Favorite Songs From Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Doris’

earl-sweatshirt-doris At the beginning of the year, Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album, Doris, found its way onto almost every single list of anticipated albums. The buzzy younger brother from Odd Future, long hailed as the group’s premier lyricist, had led a life shrouded in mystery since he first emerged with his debut mixtape Earl in 2010, disappearing to Samoa when his mother thought he was getting into too much trouble.

But his return has led to a resumption of the hype, and his verse on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange last year, as well as dark, brooding singles like “Whoa” and the emotional “Chum” helped fuel the fire. And now, with Doris streaming online and its release less than 24 hours away, XXL spoke to some of the key people who had a hand in creating the album, from Odd Future cohort Domo Genesis to fellow young rappers Vince Staples and Casey Veggies to The Neptunes’ Chad Hugo, digging into the nuts and bolts of the making of Earl’s official debut.

Through these conversations, a few things came to light—the album was largely written and recorded immediately after Earl returned from Samoa over a year ago, meaning many songs have been tweaked and touched up for months, leaving a variety of different versions. Many songs were created on the spot, with Earl just hanging out with friends in his living room or coming across beats and hopping on them in the moment. And Earl has emerged from the process with a bit of a reputation for laying down verses in just one take, a skill that left a couple of his producers seriously impressed. “He’s real chill in the booth and very serious, but once he’s out he’s just a kid,” said Taiwo “Christian” Hassan, who co-produced four tracks on Doris with his twin brother Kehinde, who goes by “Rich.” “He’s a 19-year-old kid, playing around, having fun, talking shit, cracking jokes. And then when he gets in the booth it’s a whole different beast.”

“He’s no moron; he knows what he’s doing,” added Hugo. “Everything he does, he keeps it simple, rocks it out.” —Dan Rys (@danrys); Interviews As Told To Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)

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  • Del The FH

    I wrote this for my school’s newspaper review section. It’s a rough draft could someone tell me if I am missing something?

    “Anticipated” may be somewhat of an understatement for
    Earl Sweatshirt’s newest release in 2013.
    After his 2010 mix tape “Earl” was lauded by many critics and
    contemporaries in the hip hop community, Earl had been absent from any
    recordings for the two following years.
    In 2010, Earl’s mother sent him to a boarding school in Samoa to help
    clear his head and keep him out of trouble he was getting into. People began to
    wonder if Earl would ever return with a full length album. But in December of 2012, Earl was back with a
    new sound and lyrical content in his first single for Doris, “Chum”. “Chum” is one
    of the albums highlights because it showcases Earl’s lyrical shift from the
    cartoonish, shock lyrics of “Earl” to a more serious and much more personal
    tone. The first verse of the song deals
    with his life before he was sent to Samoa.
    He tackles issues such as his father leaving him, “It’s probably been 12 years since my father left, left me fatherless,
    and I just used to say “I hate him” in dishonest jest” and his own
    recklessness, “…From honor roll to crackin’ locks up off them bicycle racks.” In the second verse he raps about his return
    to America following his trip to Samoa, “Time lapse, bars riding heart’s bottomless pit.” The “time lapse” represents
    his time gone, and the “bars” have a double meaning. Either they represent prison bars, or the
    bars of his songs coming from his “heart’s bottomless pit”. But that is not the sickest song on this
    album. On the third single from Doris, “Hive”, Sweatshirt does what he
    has already been successful at. The beat
    on this track isn’t just dirty, it’s absolutely filthy. It’s one of several songs on Doris, which Earl himself made the
    instrumental track for. His trademark
    monotone, free verse flow (I call it “stream of consciousness rapping) sounds
    best on the awkward line, “and simultaneously dispelling one-trick-pony myths, isn’t
    he?” A lot of what makes this line amazing
    is the way he spits the line and its irony.
    Earl’s mission on this album is to expand his sound and lyrics to get to
    a broader audience. But “Hive” sounds
    like it could have come from his 2010 record “Earl” with vulgar, violent and unsettling
    instrumental. Although my two favorite
    songs on the album are two of the three singles (the other being Whoa, with his
    “big brother”, Tyler the Creator) Doris, also
    has some amazing producers and featured artists. Along with Odd Future cohorts, Tyler the
    Creator, Vince Staples, Casey Veggies, Domo Genesis, and Frank Ocean, the
    Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and hip hop group The Neptunes come into help with
    production. Doris, is the sound of Earl maturing into
    a better rapper at age 19 than most other rappers who are in the game today. Earl’s impressive wordplay, and beat
    selection, brings a new edge to the rap game, which was needed after a summer
    full of disappointing releases from bigger name rappers.

  • bk in da house

    his music is wack as fuck!!!!

  • bk in da house

    I’ve listened to all the songs on his new doris album… my opinion!! a waste of fucking time… this nigga sound like he stoned out trippin of some fucking LSD or someshit.. the only half decent song on this album is trak 5, HIVE… evrything else is GARBAGE and you clowns at XXLgive this dude high praises… you gotta be fucking kidding me.. your entire review staff need to be fired and replaced ASAP>> you dont have a fucking clue as to what good music is…. hear ye him, by no malice ALL FUCKING DAY!!!!!!!!!

  • bk in da house

    his flow is wack and those traks are all fucking wack!!!!! HEAR YE HIM now that’s music saying something possitive and music for the soul you wack ass niggas!!!!!!

  • XOXO

    Album is dope, stupid clowns below

  • Jay Clever

    Earl’s album is amazing if you actually listen to it, especially lyrically