Earl Sweatshirt’s “Feet of Clay” is Characteristically Lo-Fi and Depressing


Earl Sweatshirt at 2019 Pitchfork Music Festival | Photo credit: Sam Orlin

Kingston Cox, Entertainment Writer

It has been about a year since we last heard from Earl Sweatshirt, when he released his fan loved and critically acclaimed third studio album, Some Rap Songs. The album was filled with lo-fi sample-based production and introspective bars about recent events in Earl’s life, most notably the death of his father, and how he has been dealing with the feelings stemming from these events. This new EP, Feet of Clay, employs similar production techniques and motifs as does Some Rap Songs.

Feet of Clay kicks off with the very melancholy, Earl-produced track “74.” The song is about how Earl has been living since the release of his last album and even contains some boasts about himself and generalized, non-specific disses towards other rappers. Bars such as “Bobbleheads, chatterboxes flappin’ but I got a lot ‘em fed,” saying he is “feeding” his hungry fan base with new music, and “On a whim I felt it, in mi casa you don’t got no wins,” saying he doesn’t respect other rappers as they have no wins in his house, or his point of view, are great examples of this. Earl continues with this line of thought in his raps while spitting over an eerie, compressed piano sample. In terms of the sonic aspect of this album, this opening song pretty much sets the precedent for what the rest of the EP will sound like. Every track on this album has a slowed and pitched-down soul sample that has been chopped and screwed to provide a completely different sound for Earl to rap over. All the beats on this EP are very slow and melancholy and feature many similar sonic palettes. That is, all but one track.

The exception to this sound is the second song on the album, “EAST.” Upon the release of the EP, this was immediately recognized as a standout track, but not necessarily for the best reasons.

“EAST” is by far one of the most polarizing songs of 2019. Listeners either liked the song or absolutely hated it, and the majority of people were in the latter group. The Earl-produced beat on this track features an almost hypnotic sample of an accordion playing two notes with a light bass being played in the background with very little in terms of variance in the way the loop is played. The general reaction to this beat was that it was absolute garbage, and it kind of is. However, Earl’s excellent rapping makes it tolerable to listen to. Earl rhymes about the loss of his girlfriend and the deaths of his father and grandmother, and his use of alcohol to deal with his emotions. Earl’s voice on this song was compressed very heavily to the point where it sounds like he put his mouth right against the microphone and kind of moaned the lyrics into it. This song is very strange, but I find it to be an interesting listen.

The rest of the EP features two guest verses from Mavi and Mach-Hommy and guest production from ovrkast and Alchemist. Both featured rappers had standout verses and provided highlights for the EP with. Mavi, who fills a guest spot on “EL TORO COMBO MEAL,” rhymes about the losses of many of his friends and his grandmother, following with the motifs presented by Earl at prior points on this EP. His flow and delivery match the mood of this track perfectly and provide a great vocal change-up which greatly strengthens the album. Mach-Hommy raps on the final track, “4N.” His verse also fits into the EP perfectly on the compressed soul sample he and Earl rhyme-over. Both of these artists have their own new projects which came out this year — Mavi with Let the Sun Talk and Mach-Hommy with Wap Konn Jòj!. Both are very enjoyable listens and I recommend them highly.

On this EP, Earl doesn’t do much to push his sound forward, but still, this record is a quality release and a welcome addition to Earl’s discography.

Favorite Tracks: “74,” “EAST,” “EL TORO COMBO MEAL.”

Score: 7/10