Review: Earl Sweatshirt – Tabula Rasa (feat. Armand Hammer)

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Earl Sweatshirt's second single for Sick! is a gorgeous, mellow celebration of hip-hop poetics, soul and collaboration with three impeccable verses.

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Earlier this year, Armand Hammer and The Alchemist released their collaborative album Haram. It was excellent, with the clear highlight being ‘Falling out of the Sky’ (which remains my personal favourite song of the year, admittedly rivalled by Black Country, New Road’s ‘Sunglasses’) which featured Earl Sweatshirt and acted as a mellow, gorgeous meeting of three of hip-hop’s best lyricists and one of the best producers for more underground beats. The four must have gotten on well, as they have now collaborated on a second track for Sweatshirt’s highly anticipated upcoming album Sick!, set to release on January 14th in 2021.

After the recent release of the first single for this project, ‘2010’, Earl seemed to be suggesting that it was time for him to move in a new direction as he focused on maintaining his intense and cryptic lyrical style (there is no hook, just an extended stream-of-consciousness style verse), but this new single ‘Tabula Rasa’ links quite clearly to the same style seen on the Armand Hammer track from earlier this year.

The focus goes to The Alchemist’s beat first, which is a delicate and mellow beat that relies most on the piano loop and the sharply cut vocal sample, then goes to each rapper in turn as they each give a frankly phenomenal verse, all full of intricate wordplay, double or triple entendres, brimming with style and perfectly delivered in a way that makes them each distinct. These are three of hip-hop’s most talented wordsmiths seemingly trying to one-up one another by bringing forward some of their best work to date.

‘Tabula Rasa’ is now streaming. Watch the music video below:

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Second year film student - film, music and poetry fan!

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