The album title would make you think you’re in for some young passive-aggressive revolt, with the slight possibility of finding out rappers deal with the same mundane trivialities. The first release single, Grief, starts off promising, I’ve been getting more of a blues vibe from the lyrics, and yet Earl feels the need to break the combo by placing a few “nigga” just fit the rhythm.
The hook is followed by the first verse which takes rather dully, but fitting, his voice sounding as if he spent the past 15 hours anchored in an uncomfortable futon. At least that gives the album title some credit. The message is quite unclear, as he shifts from bragging (“I don’t act hard, I’m a hard act to follow/Like it or not, when it drop, bet he gotta listen”), to not being one going for this kind of life (“Focus on my chatter, ain’t as frantic as my thoughts”) and finally showing off his true colors, as a middle class working young fellow who knows better than falling into addiction (“Never getting out of hand, steady handling my job”). Now this would be all fine and dandy, too bad there’s very little Earl Sweatshirt himself could relate to from what he’s saying. At the age of 21 he has one LP which received universal acclamation and has been under Tyler the Creator’s right wing from the age of 16, and later on part of Odd Future. All this struggle and being misunderstood must be coming from a complete different place or everything is just a metaphor his fans need to relate to.
The second verse shows some reminiscence about his mother and grandmother, thoughts of losing them and how he might disappoint them. Mmmkay, nothing bad actually happened to him, he’s just trying “no to be like the bodies lying in them” with “pigs, ridin’ in them”. This part is a bit chaotic and then shifts to not being able to buy his loved ones back when they die. I guess the opening part justifies this choice of words (“I’m fleeting thoughts on a leash/For the moment, high as fuck”).
Grief is not a bad song, technically speaking; it’s mixed well and doesn’t really hold a single cringing beat. It’s just a bit out of touch with the reality of the artist, but if you’re looking more for ambiance than transparency, give it a go.