Earl Sweatshirt – VOIR DIRE, Album Review

Produced by The Alchemist, here Earl takes a step back.

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Kam Jenkins Music Writer

A dynamic duo indeed. Well, on paper at least. California legends Earl Sweatshirt and The Alchemist teased this release a while back. They hinted that they dropped it into the infinite abyss of YouTube for fans to discover at random. While a pairing such as this brought me excitement, I now wish they stayed in the kitchen a little longer. When Earl put out his emotional opus Some Rap Songs back in 2018 it showcased the emcee’s willingness to be publicly vulnerable. Touching on topics like familial woes and dark introspection, Sweatshirt broke off from ordinary hip-hop presentation. Despite being no stranger to such issues in his music, Some Rap Songs saw him land on a succinct delivery and sonic style. Borrowing flows from his friend and fellow lyricist MIKE, he found solace in his personal truths.

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Fast forward to today and that once-radiant transparency dulls to a brief twinkle. VOIR DIRE is brief and somewhat repetitive. Both Earl’s sleepy delivery and Alchemist’s soul-looped instrumentals, though entirely competent, fail to leave lasting impressions. More often than not these tracks end before they have a chance to truly become anything. Here the duo opts to never bring the water to a boil, so to speak. By no means is this album wack. However, it lacks an umph factor. These are tracks, not songs, unfortunately. With Sweatshirt’s pensive penmanship I expect after all these years for him to grow as a songwriter. Perhaps that was my first mistake. Nevertheless when two heavy-hitters combine their strengths, I’ll always anticipate great things. To me, they seem too chill for their own good on this one. Don’t get me wrong. I love to chill. Yet I also love to feel things deeply.

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And sadly, VOIR DIRE leaves me rather indifferent. Sure, Earl’s bars display a sharper edge than most. Additionally, The Alchemist clearly knows his way around a beat. They do great work, but they’re not pushing each other to new heights here. This brand of chemistry between friends likely functions better for a YouTube hangout video than a full-length rap album. Let’s get Earl on the next F*CK, That’s Delicious segment. I’d love to see another appearance from him in that setting. In spite of a couple excellent features from Vince Staples, the more I listen to this album the less I receive from it. Typically I have the opposite reaction from a Sweatshirt project. Next time I would personally appreciate if these two re-upped with a more focused approach.

Album Review: Earl Sweatshirt - VOIR DIRE
Intricate Lyrics
Professional Mix
Sonic Experimentation
Limited Beat Progressions
Recycled Vocal Delivery
Scant Song Structure

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