Untrue to nature, Earl Sweatshirt returns less than a year later with surprise EP: ‘Feet of Clay‘.
Fresh off his 2018 release, Some Rap Songs, Sweatshirt returns abruptly with a surprise EP release, ‘Feet of Clay’. The 7-track EP, clocking in at just over 15 minutes, is the best treat, any trick-or-treater received during the spooky season. “I was a liar as a kid so now I’m honest as f**k”, Sweatshirt raps on Danny Brown’s 2016 project, Atrocity Exhibition, and on his new release, he lives up to this claim.
With major events taking place in Earl’s life, a lot of which was discussed on his last studio album, the 25-year-old hip hop artist is back to share his experiences over some ‘left-handist’ production. Diving into his relationship with his father, with alcohol, and even a “snitch”, fans of the former Odd-Future member should be fond of the content and sound of Feet of Clay.
Wasting no time, Earl starts off the project abruptly opening with lines referencing former NBA All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire. Flowing over a lo-fi piano loop, Earl manages to address his fans, talk about his health and ridicule music from other artists in the span of five lines. With the simple yet effective loop, Earl sets the tone for the rest of the album as he is provided with enough space to share his thoughts with listeners.
While feet of clay may be a term to indicate weakness, Earl lets other rappers know that his skill set is far from vulnerable, rapping, “In mi casa, you don’t got no wins/Just to match the losses I don’t have in your gym”. Kicking off the album by addressing his personal hardships and glorifying his skill set, it’s clear listeners are in for some layered writing.
Quickly becoming the subject of multiple memes, it’s almost as though the former Odd Future rapper is testing just how seriously listeners will take his ‘left’ style production. While it is unclear if Sweatshirt took his love for British MC, MF DOOM, to the next level with this accordionist loop, he seems to somehow find a pocket in this very unlikely instrumental.
“My hands was on her wings” he raps as he starts off with the track with some quick notes from his last relationship before addressing the song title. Sweatshirt tells listeners he lost his innocence in the east – now what exactly is the east is unclear. The East Coast? Middle East? Whatever it is, the beat is definitely west (I’m sorry, it was right there).
In all seriousness, Earl has been open about his struggles following his fathers passing and towards the end of East, he touches on the contrasting nature of his thoughts. “I wait to be the light shimmering from a star/Cognitive dissonance shattered and the necessary venom restored”.
Reeling in listeners with a beautiful soul sample, MTOMB should start off with a discretion notice as it is not unlikely listeners will have their heads spinning by the end of the track. Upon many listens, I believe Kgositsile is detailing the events and changes he had to deal with as he become accustomed to the industry.
Addressing probably his most visually significant change, Earl raps, “Braids brought out my eyes”. Continuing with “I saw a light/I was nine”, it seems like Earl is talking about his first revelation of heading down the music path.
With a subtle nod to Grime artist, Dizzee Rascal, Earl glosses over his initial experiences during performances and the ‘after parties’. Clocking in at 1:10, MTOMB is definitely a personal stand-out track.
Listen, if you’re guilty of labelling the 25-year-old lyricist as an ‘introvert’, the opening lines may be a direct shot at you so come prepared. Rapping over horn samples, Earl highlights his use of alcohol to battle some strong emotions.
Conveying the vulnerability of this track, Sweatshirt raps, “Come get to know me at my innermost”. With the recent passing of his father, Keorapetse Kgositsile, and friend, Mac Miller, listeners can only imagine the type of anguish Sweatshirt must be enduring. “Healing cuts/But willingly I’m refilling the pump/No concealing it”.
Earl explains how a combination of fame at a young age and family issues is no good recipe for any artist, or individual for that matter, forcing him to “grow up quick”.
Ending with a nod to Kanye’s early work, We Don’t Care, the brutal honesty throughout this track is enough to force listeners to hit rewind every time.
EL TORO COMBO MEAL
I’m a sucker for some bars over keys, so once this track cut on, I was hooked. Continuing the theme of dizzy-inducing raps, Sweatshirt is now accompanied by upcoming MC, Mavi, arguably outshining him on this track.
A breath of fresh air, Mavi opts for a slightly faster flow than Early usually uses to relay his information. With an emphasis on family and friendship, Mavi delivers with lines like, “I’m shooting ones with the judge if he sentence my brother”.
And just as Earl begins his verse, it seems as though just as quick he is finished. Nonetheless, the track serves as a nice addition to Earl’s lyrical showcase.
TISK TISK / COOKIES
Cutting on with a frustrated (or disappointed) Earl, he reflects on the how someone around him has begun running their mouth. “Promise I’ll never forget”, he reassures as he ’tisks’ on those that have flipped on their people.
I will say the beginning of this track did have me looking forward to a Sweatshirt track diving into fallouts with friends, however, just as we come close to this, COOKIES makes an appearance.
The second half of this track continues the motif of losing a close one. While the first one may be losing someone to the ‘feds’, COOKIES delves into the qualities that Earl misses from his lost friends and/or family.
Featuring the second of two features of the EP, 4N is a track littered with gun and weapon references. Mach-Hommy, an American-Haitian rapper, lets listeners and other artists, he is not here to play. With lines like, “Wake you up inside with a Wesson”, it would be a good idea to steer clear of the rapper for now.
With the absence of drums and a reversing-type loop, some listeners may have a hard time adjusting to the minimalist production on this track. While Earl has been vocal about his efforts to make his music more ‘isolated’ and minimalist, this track may still be a ‘grower’ for some.
Earl continues the theme of gun references as he begins his verse and signals the end for other rappers. “Hammer and nail, Hommy and Earl/Spotting, got em from the top of the hill”. Sweatshirt lets us know that even while he is at the top of the game, he’s making sure those below him catch some stray bullets.
With minimalist production and lyrically-dense, yet short tracks, Feet of Clay is what Sweatshirt fans are accustomed to. The recent drop and content within this EP may indicate that the rapper is ready to return to the limelight (atleast for the backpacker scene) and shed light on his recent experiences.
What do you think of Earl Sweatshirt’s new EP? Let us know in the comments down below!