Earl Sweatshirt: Live In Brixton - Believe The Hype

Once a victim of the hype that threatened to suffocate Odd Future, Earl's back in the UK and the evolution is clear for all to see...
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Once a victim of the hype that threatened to suffocate Odd Future, Earl's back in the UK and the evolution is clear for all to see...

The sight of Lucas Vercetti wandering on stage kicked off proceedings at Electric Brixton and surprisingly, the 1600 packed inside erupted. Lucas isn’t a rapper but as the white guy in the camp he sticks out, this in spite of all ‘is he an actual member?’ confusion.  As tour DJ in the absence of Syd Tha Kid, it would seem he has a purpose here even if it’s not necessarily in line with those that seemed so pleased to see him.

Twenty minutes earlier we all stood in place whilst music blared over the sound system and when Drake was played, revealing boos rang out from around the crowd. I’m guessing because Drake is (according to the top Google searches) a Jew/fake/douche’. I have no idea - he’s definitely one, could be all three. What I did notice though was the majority managed to identify the track of an artist they disliked within two kick drums and then subconsciously rap along by the second verse, impressive. I witnessed first-hand what being an Odd Future fan means to their devoted core, it shapes their musical identity. One which has no affiliation with platinum-selling hook-singing Jewish Canadian rappers, at least not publicly anyway.

Lucas proceeded to play a twenty minute set with carte blanche to spin whatever he felt like and dropping Master P’s “Make Em Say Uhh” to little crowd reaction seemed not to faze him. Symptomatic of the attitude of Earl in recent months. Having gone great lengths to resist the vaunted status as saviour of lyricism and “real rap”, Earl values the need to remind the world he’s still a kid from LA, with a myriad of influences from Doom to Lil B. Owing to his time in Samoa, 2013’s “Doris” was a small step away from trademark Odd Future output and Earl came across more decidedly mature on his long awaited LP.  Just last week he tweeted “moving forward: 0% fabrication in the raps. Only saying words that carry weight with or without music.” Signalling more changes are to take place.

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Earl finally emerged and ripped through album tracks “Burgundy” and “Hive” in the confidence of knowing the crowd’s intensity would remain, sustained by his degree of showmanship. Perhaps the backhanded benefit of the album containing no runaway hits, is that even with its lyrically density, all tracks could be repeated line for line by the raucous crowd, having digested ‘Doris’ for well over six months now.

The night’s apex came with “EARL”, the 2010 introductory freestyle that birthed Earl’s stardom and with it also came my favourite OF fan observation of the night. Watching the half-hearted mosh pits form and those from the presumed safety of the outskirts pushing people in the middle into elbows and head-butts unaware karma would have the same fate fall upon them in about five seconds from someone else behind.

Earl’s on-track charisma and wit carries well to the stage and there was never really the need for the urgency created by the stage diving antics of his Odd Future cohorts.  Usually accustomed to five or six microphones on stage with him, Earl relished the opportunity to hold the crowd on his own; all in all, Sunday night again proved Earl Sweatshirt was never just the product of hype, at times maybe even the victim. He’s already taken many steps to proving his chops and there’s more evolution on the way.

Follow Tobi on Twitter, @teflontobz