Listen to this: ‘Some Rap Songs’

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Listen to this: ‘Some Rap Songs’

Mat Diana '20, Opinion Editor

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I know I am late to the party by reviewing this album more than two months after it was released. I could blame it on Winter Break, or the slowdown of album releases at the end of the year giving me less material. But at the end of the day, I would be lying if I said reviewing this album was not a top priority, because this is one of the best hip-hop albums I have heard in years.

There is little point in walking through “Some Rap Songs” track by track given its brevity at just 24 minutes. There are highlights, like the smooth guitar rift-driven beat of “Ontheway!” and the low-fi piano rhythm of “The Mint.” But the project’s short run-time, matched with songs that mostly run under two minutes in length, make it more appropriate to evaluate and enjoy holistically. The album drew immediate comparisons to Madvillain’s 2004 debut Madvillainy for its relaxed, listenable melodies packed into songs that defy the typical hip-hop structure, throwing out a chorus in favor of single beats driving entire tracks.

For all of its accessibility to wider audiences, Earl does not compromise his emotional brand for a moment. Themes of depressions, suicide, and hopelessness lie beneath the surface of what sound like easy-going tracks. With this, “Some Rap Songs” walks a delicate line between being an album best for passive or active listening; one that listeners can finish and not even recognize the emotional journey Earl just took them through. At this point, I think we can skip the question of whether this was the best album of 2018 and start talking about this being the defining hip-hop album of the decade.