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This week in hip-hop: New Earl Sweatshirt and Lil Baby

A&E’s take on two highly anticipated — and polar opposite — hip-hop albums.

“Some Rap Songs” – Earl Sweatshirt

Gone are the days of dark, bool-heavy ciphers from Earl Sweatshirt.

The once Ladera, California menace has turned a new disc over in his hip-hop career with his latest project, “Some Rap Songs,” released last Friday.

After the breakup of generation-defining crew Odd Future, Earl’s music is still reminiscent of Wolf Gang in his voice and sound. His new 24-minute project is heavy in jazz and soul influences — making for a mellow and beautifully melancholic sound.

Overlaid with Earl’s new voice (literally, puberty hit this dude), the combination provides genre-bending goodness.

Starting with “Shattered Dreams,” Sweatshirt takes a nonchalant approach to a crescendo-looped backtrack. Instead of offering unrelenting bars as he does on, say, “Doris,” the rapper holds — giving readers the chance to take in every bar.

After warming up, Earl dives into string bass-heavy melodies with sound bytes ranging the cultural gamut.

“The boy been gone a few summers too long,” Sweatshirt admits on “Cold Summers.”

We could not agree more.

The only track over two minutes long, “The Mint,” notably features Supreme skater Sage Elsesser (or Navy Blue, his new rap persona).

This, however, really is the only hint of the old days for Earl. With jazz club-esque backing on tracks like “December 24” and “Peanut,” Sweatshirt is showing the world he’s grown up.

The only thing stopping this LP from being everyone’s winter go-to? A lack of energy. 

While Earl has always been grungy, past bars would hit with exuberant amounts of angst-filled power. Now, Earl steps off a bit too much and puts listeners into a hypnotic swirl.

Nevertheless, this gives Earl Sweatshirt a platform to define a new era in lyric-heavy jazz-hop. 

And you better believe you can still skate to it.

Grade: A-

“Street Gossip” – Lil Baby

While Earl is a veteran spitting a path not taken, Lil Baby is sticking to his Atlanta style.

Also released on Nov. 30, the 24-year-old plays with a clout-filled features list. The mixtape is full of trap beats and typical ATL flow. But hey, don’t fix what’s not broken, right?

This is only the second project of his that doesn’t mention the word “hard” in its title; Baby brings his usual, bouncy flow to keep most tracks on-brand.

Starting out, “Global” announces his success trajectory. Using a fat amount of bass and snare, the rapper plays with flow that sounds familiar to that of Atlanta legend, Future.

The next track, early favorite “Pure Cocaine,” uses a trap beat with smooth melodies that will one hundred percent get stuck in your head. 

From there, Meek Mill, Gunna, 2 Chainz, Young Thug and Offset add their own flair to make the project drip.

As is typical for Quality Control Music signees, it’s never about the content of the rhymes. Rather, it’s about how much they slap.

No one is listening to Lil Baby to become more woke or transcend the realms of hip-hop lyricism.

Nevertheless, Lil Baby still has something to say. On “Section 8,” he and Young Thug explain their roots. On upbeat track “Dreams 2 Reality” he declares his rise to fame.

Inevitably, we’ll see more tracks like this in the very near future. But for the next week or two? Most songs are slap worthy.

Grade: B

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