This Album Changed My Life: Earl Sweatshirt – Doris (2013)

Max Zanga of Kildare’s Tebi Rex: ‘This is what it feels like to go through puberty’

Kildare rap duo Tebi Rex

Kildare rap duo Tebi Rex

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It was dark out and I was riding home in a far-too-packed Luas that, from the smell of cheap alcohol and sweat, was determined to destroy my remaining will to exist. And as I sat there after a long day of school, I decided to be pissed at the world. In a strange way, this perfectly sets the scene for Earl Sweatshirt’s dark, jarring lyrical medley on his own personal frustrations with life.

In 2013, Los Angeles collective Odd Future held a uniquely interesting position in the hip-hop zeitgeist. In many ways, Odd Future was the embodiment of everything that it meant to be young. They were brash, they scoffed at convention, were angry and viewed the world as a playground where no rules applied. It was in this creative and social environment that Earl Sweatshirt flourished as an artist.

In terms of a narrative, Doris is hard to define. That’s because, rather than tell a story, Earl opted to create a “mood” instead. Doris is a sombre coming-of-age tale that can flit between the unnervingly calm aggression of Hive to the cocky indignation of Woah. Essentially, listening to Doris is what it feels like to go through puberty. It’s the balancing of emotions that seem to change at the drop of a dime. It wasn’t trying to depict an external environment coloured by poverty or race relations. Rather, Doris was a deeply personal inward exploration of Earl Sweatshirt’s psyche.

The album wasn’t overly concerned with perfecting a certain sound but rather creating a new one. Doris didn’t really offer any kind of solution to the chaos that was my life. It just suggested that I might find solace if I looked inward.

  • Tebi Rex play Indiependence in Cork on August 4th. Their new song, Peggy’s Bus, is out now
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