Following a double whammy of divisive releases in the form of 2018’s Some Rap Songs and 2019’s increasingly experimental Feet Of Clay, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile AKA Earl Sweatshirt is back.
The Alchemist is on production duties on WHOLE WORLD. This isn’t the first time he’s worked with Earl. E. Coli and Wind In My Sails are familiar to Earl fans as treasured deep cuts, as well as his more recent work on 2019’s MTOMB. The surprise appearance here is Maxo’s understated verse, which suits the tone of The Alchemist’s drugged-out bass-heavy beat. The track slithers along like a snake trying to eat its own tail, only to be resolved by the next bar. Earl is defying expectations here by minimising his sound, perhaps to the delight of critics of Feet of Clay. As he rapped on Azucar, Sweatshirt “shook tradition, did it (my) way”, and it’s worked out – WHOLE WORLD is a home run.
“How much shrapnel can your soul take?” Earl ponders, as he floats with effortless mastery over the beat. The two rapper’s verses are punctuated by Maxo’s prophetic refrain:
“Got the, whole world round me
Whole world round me crumblin’”
Stephen Lee Bruner, better known by the alias Thundercat is back and as ludicrous as ever.
The Californian singer/songwriter /bassist extraordinare has been involved with some of the most critically acclaimed musicians of recent years, including appearances on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and much of Brainfeeder colleague Flying Lotus’ music. Despite his undeniable talent, Bruner doesn’t take himself too seriously, as you can see from the video for Dragonball Durag, the teaser track from his new LP It Is What It Is.
Take 2 vials of incredible technical ability, 1 vial of wacky humour and a sprinkle of psychedelia, shake well and you have the recipe for a Thundercat.
Dragonball Durag is a juxtaposition of a melodic pop song with the absurd, reminiscient of Frank Zappa’s I Have Been In You. Sugary vocal melodies soar above Thundercat’s unmistakable stuttering baselines as he waxes poetical about his durag. Accompanied by swaggering percussion and gentle keys, the hook on which Bruner asks “Baby girl, do you like me in my durag?” is an earworm of upper echelon quality.
The mix leaves layered vocals dripping in honey. It’s saccharine to the core and may cause diabetes and restless leg syndrome but comes with a 100% guarantee of a funky jam to bop along to.
Favourite lyric: “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good.” Continue reading
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