2013 has been an outstanding year for hip-hop thus far. Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper and Kanye West have all put out phenomenal records, and The Weeknd, Drake and Janelle Monae are gearing up for their releases in the next few months. But in such a stacked year, my most anticipated rap record is Earl Sweatshirt’s upcoming Doris. After setting the tone for the record with the first single, “Chum,” then showing he hasn’t lost touch with his Odd Future roots with “Whoa,” Earl has unleashed the menacing “Hive” and cranks the eagerness for Doris up to 11.
“Hive” is an incredibly dark track that really allows Earl to flex his creative muscles. Powered by a grumbling bass line and a subtle snare, the beat is extremely minimalistic and simple, building an aura of sinister-ness that encapsulates the track. The beat only varies to add a simple cymbal hit and an eerie, wavering choir. It’s a creepy, unnerving beat that fits so effortlessly with Earl’s flow to create a seamless beast of a song.
The rapper’s signature delivery is in full force here, and it might be one of his strongest vocal performances ever. His laid back slurring recklessly swerves all over the place but it always feels like he is in complete control, effortlessly weaving his bars together in a breathtaking fashion.
Vince Staples shows up on the last verse and absolutely destroys it, nearly showing up Earl on his own track. Staples is as strong of an MC as there is out there right now, and hopefully this verse helps get his name out a bit more. Add in Casey Veggies‘ assistance on the hook, and the features on this track contribute perfectly: They shine on their own and add an extra element to the music, but they don’t overpower the actual song – something that is becoming increasingly prevalent in hip-hop.
“Hive” is the best song Earl has released so far off of Doris, and quite possibly the best any Odd Future member has put out. It’s a hauntingly atmospheric track that displays the strongest and most powerful strengths that Earl has to offer. If “Hive” is at all representative of the vein that Doris will be in, there is no doubt in my mind that it could be a strong contender for album of the year.