Doris (album)

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Doris
Studio album by Earl Sweatshirt
Released August 20, 2013
Recorded 2012–2013
Genre Hip hop
Length 44:07[1]
Label Tan Cressida, Columbia Records
Producer randomblackdude (also exec.), BadBadNotGood, Christian Rich, Frank Ocean, Matt Martians, Michael "Uzi" Uzowuru, The Neptunes, RZA, Samiyam, The Alchemist, Tyler, The Creator
Earl Sweatshirt chronology
Earl
(2010)
Doris
(2013)
Singles from Doris
  1. "Chum"
    Released: November 2, 2012
  2. "Whoa"
    Released: March 12, 2013
  3. "Hive"
    Released: July 16, 2013

Doris is the debut studio album by Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt. The album was released on August 20, 2013 by Tan Cressida and Columbia Records. Doris follows his free-album Earl, which was released in 2010 when he was sixteen. After returning from a forced stay in a Samoan boarding school, he began working on his debut album and signed a deal with Columbia, rather than Odd Future's Odd Future Records.

Doris features guest appearances from Odd Future members Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Casey Veggies, Tyler, The Creator, along with Vince Staples, RZA and Mac Miller. Production was primarily handled by Sweatshirt under the pseudonym randomblackdude and production duo Christian Rich. Additional production was provided by Matt Martians, The Neptunes, RZA, Samiyam, BadBadNotGood, Frank Ocean, and Tyler, The Creator. The album was supported by three singles; "Chum", "Whoa" featuring Tyler, The Creator, and "Hive" featuring Vince Staples and Casey Veggies.

Upon its release, Doris was met with universal acclaim from music critics, including perfect scores by The Guardian and Los Angeles Times, which praised Sweatshirt's rhyme schemes and lyrics along with the gritty underground production. The album also appeared on numerous critics' year-end lists. The album fared well commercially, debuting at number five on the US Billboard 200 and number one on US Top Rap Albums chart.

Background[edit]

Doris serves as Earl Sweatshirt's debut studio album.

On February 8, 2012, rumors spread around the internet that Earl Sweatshirt had returned to the U.S. when a video of him surfaced on YouTube with a preview of a new song saying if viewers wanted "the full thing" they would have to give him 50,000 followers on Twitter.[2] He also later confirmed on his new Twitter account[3] that he had returned to his home in Los Angeles.[4] Three hours passed and Sweatshirt reached 50,000 followers and did release a new song on his website, entitled "Home", in which he ends the song with "...and I'm back. Bye."[5] Sweatshirt later confirmed via Twitter that all the songs released prior to Oldie were old songs that he recorded before going abroad.[5] On the same day Earl launched his website Terttlefer.com, which was later changed to Earlxsweat.com (after his Twitter username), and finally Earlsweatshirt.com.[5] In April 2012 Earl Sweatshirt created his own record label imprint called Tan Cressida which will be distributed through Columbia Records. He turned down several other larger offers due to his priority of remaining close to Odd Future.[6]

Wu-Tang Clan's RZA produced and appeared on "Molasses".

On November 12, 2012, Earl announced on his Twitter account that his first and second studio albums would be titled Doris and Gnossos.[7][8] Early on Doris was reported to feature vocals or production from Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean, Ommas Keith, Thundercat, Domo Genesis, The Neptunes, Christian Rich, Vince Staples, BadBadNotGood, Pharrell Williams, Samiyam, The Alchemist, Casey Veggies and The Internet.[9][10][11]

On March 6, 2013 while performing with Flying Lotus and Mac Miller, Earl premiered three new songs off Doris, "Burgundy" produced by The Neptunes, "Hive" featuring Casey Veggies & Vince Staples and "Guild" featuring Mac Miller.[12][13] At Coachella 2013 Earl previewed "Hive", "Burgundy" and "Guild" once again, as well as "20 Wave Caps".[14] At Syracuse, he previewed "Molasses" featuring RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.[15] On July 12, 2013 Earl announced a release date of August 20, 2013 for the album and released the album cover and track listing.[16]

Earl Sweatshirt described the album saying:

"Im just trying to make pretty music. Everyone whose favorite song off Earl was “Epar” or whatever might be pretty bummed. Everyone with 666 or KTA or some sort of stupid hashtag like ‘hey look im crazy’ in their bio might be pretty bummed too. I anticipate a loss of fans. I also anticipate gaining some… I fucking love how it sounds. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you can hear the progression. I hope I lose you as a fan if you only fuck with me because I rapped about raping girls when I was 15."[17]

Recording[edit]

Sweatshirt worked with The Neptunes and Chicago producers Christian Rich for the track "Burgundy". Taiwo of Christian Rich revealed to MTV News that Pharrell Williams spent most of the day working on Robin Thicke 's smash hit "Blurred Lines", but took a short break to work on "Burgundy" with his Neptunes' partner, Chad Hugo. "Pharrell was in the next room making 'Blurred Lines' with Robin Thicke (although) we didn't know it was 'Blurred Lines' back then," Taiwo explained. "He came in and was like, 'This is the slowest beat I ever did, it's like 60 BPM — here. He literally walked out for 20 minutes and came back in." The song title does not appear in the lyrics, but is a reference to Earl's grandmother's Burgundy carpet. The song contains a sample from Preacher's "The Power of the Truth"[18]

The album's lead single "Chum" was produced by production duo Christian Rich. Sweatshirt had heard of the two before, and the duo met with Sony's A&R staff for Sweatshirt to hear their beats. According to a member of the duo Kehinde Hassan, "he was going nuts in the studio like, “Wow, okay listen, you guys got to do this project with me.”"[19] Sweatshirt's first album Doris was produced over the course of about four or five months, and "Chum" was created on its first three days of making the LP.[19] The song was produced using Logic Pro,[20] and the beat was the quickest and rawest made on the album.[20][21] The song was recorded by Julian Prindle at Paramount Recording Studios in Hollywood, California. Jaycen Joshua mixed the track at Larrabee Sound Studios in North Hollywood (Where Justin Timberlake recorded The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2), and it was later mastered by Dave Kutch at the Mastering Palace in New York City (Where The Roots recorded their 2011 album Undun).[22] Taiwo Hassan wrote the chorus for "Chum", and Sweatshirt came up with the verses.[20][23] Kehinde Hassan said in an interview with MTV News that "Most of the sessions were about five hours of talking crap — what artists you like and you don't like, having fun — and then he'll just black out and be like, 'OK I got a verse.' That's how 'Chum' worked."[23] The song's instrumentation consists of a tumbling piano loop, a low-octave, fuzzy bass, drums, vocals, and other sampled sounds.[20][24] Christian Rich originally considered Thom Yorke to perform the hook to make it sound bigger, but Sweatshirt refused, as he didn't want to go for that sound.[20]

"Sunday" features fellow Odd Future member Frank Ocean. The song is seen as unusual for Ocean whom is renowned for his singing rather than his rapping, having previously only shown off his rapping on the track "Blue Whale" (Which was leaked online) and The OF Tape Vol. 2 closer "Oldie". The duo had previously collaborated on Ocean's "Super Rich Kids" from Ocean's 2011 album channel ORANGE. The song raised minor controversey regarding Ocean's verse which included lyrics regarding Ocean's reported fued with Chris Brown in which Ocean and Brown reportedly brawled, Ocean raps:"Forgot you don't like it rough, I mean he called me a faggot, I was just calling his bluff, I mean how anal am I gon' be? When I'm aiming my gun and why's his mug all bloody, that was a three-on-one? Standing ovation and Staples I got my Grammys and gold and my polkadot BRiT". Though the song title doesn't appear in the lyrics, Ocean and Brown's parking lot scuffle happened on a Sunday. The song went through many different incarnations and mixes before being completed. The original version was lost after his laptop's hard drive crashed. After reassembling it, the rapper decided that he hated the mixes. "Then it was, 'We can't mix this song,"' he told NME, '"...you're going to have to redo it or do a new song.' I threw a a tantrum. I did a new song."[25]

"Hive" was written, recorded, produced, and engineered in the living room of Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians' old home in Marina del Rey, California; the music was programmed in Reason.[22][26] The beat, according to Martians, "got kinda tight, then we started rapping. Next thing we know, Casey comes over with his crew, and there’s like 12 people in our living room, all rapping around Thebe. The mic is in the middle of the room, and Thebe is rapping in front of everybody."[26] The song took a total of three hours to record, with Sweatshirt's verse recorded in only one take before Casey Veggies and Vince Staples did theirs. Martians said that Sweatshirt "works quickly in general: he gets his initial ideas out quickly, then goes back and makes adjustments. That’s a mature thing about his music-making. He knows what he wants to do and what kinds of feelings he wants to convey."[26] The track was later mixed by Jaycen Joshua at Larrabee Sound Studios in North Hollywood, California, and mastered by Dave Kutch at the Mastering Palace in New York City.[22]

Release and promotion[edit]

Earl Sweatshirt toured in promotion of Doris with fellow Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator.

On November 2, 2012, Earl released his first solo single since his return from Samoa, titled "Chum".[27] The music video for "Chum" was released on December 4, 2012.[28] Earl would confirm the next single to be titled "Whoa", featuring Tyler, The Creator. The song was released to iTunes on March 12, 2013, along with the music video being released, which was directed by Tyler, The Creator.[29] On July 16, 2013, the third single "Hive", featuring Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, was released to iTunes along with the pre-order for the album.[30] An accompanying music video was then released later that day.[31]

From April 30, through May 18, 2013 Earl Sweatshirt toured the West Coast of the United States with Tyler, The Creator on his Wolf tour.[32] On August 9, 2013, Sweatshirt made his national television debut, performing The Neptunes-produced "Burgundy" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[33] On September 10, 2013, Earl Sweatshirt announced his first solo-headlining concert tour titled Doris. The tour ran from October 6, through November 9, 2013 and featured supporting acts by Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Vince Staples.[34]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 49,000 copies in the United States. It also debuted at number three and number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts respectively.[35] In its second week the album sold 8,000 more copies.[36] In its third week the album sold 4,000 more copies bringing its total album sales to 62,000.[37]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[38]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[39]
Billboard 79/100[40]
Exclaim! 6/10[41]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[42]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[43]
Now 4/5 stars[44]
Pitchfork Media 8.3/10[45]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[46]
Spin 8/10[47]
XXL 4/5 (XL)[48]

Upon its release, Doris was met with universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 82, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 32 reviews.[38] Simon Vozick-Levinson of Rolling Stone gave the album three and a half stars out of five, saying "His rhyme schemes are as complex as ever, and these resolutely unpop beats – sticky-icky sample collages from producers including Pharrell, RZA and himself – are an ideal canvas. But his subject matter has undergone a drastic overhaul. Unlike some peers, Earl has figured out that shock value only goes so far. Doris' themes are way less cartoonish – getting stoned, shrugging off career pressures, staring down his least-favorite feelings."[46] David Jeffries of AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Doris is unsettled, messy, and takes a bit to sort, but there are codes to crack and rich rewards to reap, so enter with an open mind and prepare to leave exhausted."[39] Aaron Matthews of Exclaim! gave the album a six out of ten, saying "Doris isn't the classic many anticipated, but it is a strong, uncompromised debut from a very talented young rapper. For now, that's enough."[41] Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times gave the album four out of four stars, saying "Earl, born Thebe Kgositsile, might be best known for his precocious way around a rhyme, but "Doris" features instrumental interludes, expanded mid-song diversions and enough surprise to warrant repeated — obsessive — evaluation."[43] Craig Jenkins of Pitchfork Media gave the album an 8.3 out of 10, saying "As comebacks go, it’s shockingly insular and unassuming. Even when he skirts the mainstream, he does so with cautious optimism. Earl made a television appearance with the Roots on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" this month, running through the boisterous “Burgundy” with eyes closed after a tense walk from the blue room to the stage. It was a peculiar event, the anticlimactic unveiling of a star who’d been the talk of rap circles for three years but scarcely able to relish the attention."[45]

Jesse Cataldo of Slant Magazine gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Earl may be one of the quieter voices on Doris, but his dense, evocative sensibility dominates the album both lyrically and musically."[49] Dan Jackson of XXL gave the album an XL rating saying, "As one might expect from a 19-year-old, this is an album of extremes. It can be poignant and honest in one moment, then cagey and distant in the next."[48] Darryl G. Wright of PopMatters gave the album an eight out of ten, saying "Doris represents one of the most innovative and important hip-hop releases of the year. Not just because of the charm and intrigue of Earl’s story but because of the immense and understated level of his talent for writing rhymes."[50] Jesse Fairfax of HipHopDX gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Earl paints pictures in a manner more poetic than just about all within his peer group. The hectic journey towards this moment has played the biggest role in both his ingenuity and uncertainty, producing the carefree attitude sure to alienate inconsiderate onlookers, while others cheer him on."[51] Julianne Escobedo Shepherd of Spin gave the album an eight out of ten, saying "The record is at its best when he simply shifts into verbal overdrive, spitting gnarled bullets on the phenomenal robber's fable "Centurion" or the weedy hallucinogen "Guild."[47] Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian gave the album five out of five stars, saying "This is knockabout punchline rap made into high art, a psychedelic visionquest to the taqueria on a skateboard."[42] Hermione Hoby of The Observer gave the album four out of five stars, saying "The beats remain dank and murky but the subject matter has thankfully left behind rape and murder narratives for the introspective and confessional."[52]

Accolades[edit]

Closing out the year, Doris was named to multiple "Album of the Year" lists for 2013. Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly named it the tenth best album of 2013 saying, "On Doris, his official debut, the prodigal phenom reclaims his own tale over shadowy, off-center beats. But unlike most brainy, restless 19-year-olds, he's generous with his epiphanies, rapping about his absent father, his intense partying — and how not to carry a skateboard."[53] NME ranked it number 27 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013.[54] Complex ranked it number 27 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013. They elaborated saying, "This album sounds like it was made as much for Earl as it was for the his fans—maybe more. But as a result, we get the unfiltered artist, clear of any impurities that might water down his product. These bars aren't stepped on, as he describes his adjustment (and resistance) to fame, personal relationships, and dedication to his craft—all while flexing his evolved technical ability. Doris gave us a second impression that felt like a first meeting, familiarizing us with one of today's most enigmatic rappers."[55] PopMatters named it the sixth best hip hop album of the year. They commented saying, "Doris is made of fantastic self-revealing moments, jaw dropping lines, and some of the year’s best bars. When you end an album with the line “Young, black, and jaded, vision hazy strolling through the night,” you have to have something backing it up. Make no mistake, Earl isn’t good for his age; he’s great, period."[56]

The album was named the eighth best hip hop album of 2013 by Exclaim!.[57] The album was positioned at number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 50 best albums of 2013.[58] Spin ranked it at number 31 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013.[59] Consequence of Sound ranked it at number 39 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013.[60] It was positioned at number 22 on Pigeons & Planes' list of the best albums of 2013.[61] Mojo ranked it at number 23 on their list of the top 50 albums of the year.[62] Paste positioned it at number 43 on their list of the 50 best albums of 2013.[63]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Complex United States The 50 Best Albums of 2013[55][60] 2013 11
Consequence of Sound 39
Entertainment Weekly The 10 Best Albums of 2013[53] 10
Exclaim! Canada Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums[57] 8
Mojo United Kingdom The Top 50 Best Albums of 2013[54][62][63] 23
NME 27
Paste United States 43
Pigeons & Planes The Top 30 Albums of 2013[61] 22
PopMatters Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums[56] 6
Rolling Stone The 50 Best Albums of 2013[58][59] 42
Spin 31
XXL The Top 25 Albums of 2013[64] 7

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Pre" (featuring SK La' Flare) Thebe Kgositsile, Shakeir Duarte Michael "Uzi" Uzowuru 2:52
2. "Burgundy" (featuring Vince Staples) Kgositsile, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo The Neptunes 2:07
3. "20 Wave Caps" (featuring Domo Genesis) Kgositsile, Dominique Cole Samiyam, randomblackdude 2:12
4. "Sunday" (featuring Frank Ocean) Kgositsile, Christopher Breaux randomblackdude, Frank Ocean 3:26
5. "Hive" (featuring Vince Staples & Casey Veggies) Kgositsile, Vince Staples, Casey Jones randomblackdude, Matt Martians 4:37
6. "Chum"   Kgositsile, Taiwo Hassan, Kehinde Hassan, Hugo randomblackdude, Christian Rich 4:04
7. "Sasquatch" (featuring Tyler, The Creator) Kgositsile, Tyler Okonma Tyler, The Creator 2:48
8. "Centurion" (featuring Vince Staples) Kgositsile, T. Hassan, K. Hassan, Staples, Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, David Axelrod Christian Rich 3:04
9. "523"   Kgositsile randomblackdude 1:32
10. "Uncle Al"   Kgositsile The Alchemist,[65] randomblackdude 0:53
11. "Guild" (featuring Mac Miller) Kgositsile, Malcolm McCormick randomblackdude 3:54
12. "Molasses" (featuring RZA) Kgositsile, Lennie Hibbert, Clement Dodd RZA, Christian Rich (co.) 2:16
13. "Whoa" (featuring Tyler, The Creator) Kgositsile, Okonma Tyler, The Creator 3:16
14. "Hoarse"   Kgositsile, Breaux BadBadNotGood 3:52
15. "Knight" (featuring Domo Genesis) Kgositsile, Cole, Paul Willis, Tyrone Douglas Christian Rich 3:14
Total length:
44:07
Samples

Personnel[edit]

Album credits adapted from AllMusic.[67]

  • The Alchemist – engineer
  • BadBadNotGood – mixing, producer
  • Josh Berg – engineer, mixing
  • Anita Marisa Boriboon – art direction, design
  • Casey Veggies – featured artist
  • Jason Dill – photography
  • Jeff Ellis – engineer
  • Sk La' Flare – featured artist
  • Domo Genesis – featured artist
  • Ron Gilmore – keyboards
  • Trehy Harris – mixing assistant
  • Chad Hugo – keyboards, trumpet
  • Jaycen Joshua – mixing
  • Ryan Kaul – mixing assistant
  • Om'Mas Keith – engineer, instrumentation
  • Dave Kutch – mastering
  • Mike Larson – engineer
  • Cesar Loza – assistant
  • Malay HO – engineer
  • Matt Martians – producer
  • Kunle Martins – illustrations
  • Mac Miller – featured artist
  • The Neptunes – producer
  • Frank Ocean – featured artist, keyboards, producer, vocals
  • Julian Prindle – engineer
  • Christian Rich – producer
  • RZA – featured artist, producer
  • Samiyam – producer
  • Vince Staples – featured artist, vocals
  • Earl Sweatshirt – primary artist
  • Tyler, The Creator – featured artist, producer
  • Michael Uzowuru – instrumentation, producer
  • Vic Wainstein – engineer

Chart positions[edit]

References[edit]

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