I have been a fan of Earl Sweatshirt for a good few years now, and while he was in exile in Samoa I got the chance to see the whole Odd Future collective when they stopped by Manchester in 2012. I wasn’t sure the hype would last long enough for me to get to see Earl if/when he came back. Last night (25/3), I got that chance.
Earl was in Manchester at the Academy on his ‘Wearld Tour’ along with his DJ, OF’s Lucas Vercetti to tour Earl’s 2013 album ‘Doris’. With him in support he brought Bishop Nehru, the young New York MC who has recently collaborated with Disclosure on the track ‘You Stressin’ which has previously been covered on T&U. DJ Juanyto got the crowd hyped up by playing some East Coast Hip-Hop classics by the likes of Wu Tang Clan (who Bishop toured with last year), Jay Z and Terror Squad. He also started a sing-a-long to one of the greatest Hip-Hop tracks of all time, ‘Juicy’ by Biggie. It was a great way to get the crowd hyped for someone only a handful of the crowd knew. His live show is still in it’s infancy, he did rely too much on the crowd shouting things back and forth, although when a member of the crowd started the chant ‘Nehru, Nehru, Nehru is on fire’ it was vaguely amusing.
Bishop had no hype man but still managed to spit every word clearly in his intricate wordplay. Nehru had the crowd on his side from his first song, it’s clear he has a massive future ahead of him. ‘You Stressin’ which currently is his most well-known song had the crowd vibing. For me ’77’ was a personal highlight, a vicious, intense song to show who’s the new top dog in New York, he has a lot to battle with as there are a lot of talented young rappers coming out of NYC right now including Joey Bada$$ and A$AP Rocky. Bishop plans to “kill your whole team with a 16” so be ready for him in 2014.
Then we come to the main event, Earl Sweatshirt. A massive blow up of the now infamous ‘Earl face’ which adorned the t-shirts and hoodies on many of the crowd was erected in the corner of the stage and a flag behind the decks which had a joker-like face graffitied with the words ‘grades don’t matter’ dropped from the ceiling. Lucas came on stage to chants of “we love you Lucas, we do” and proceeded to start the show with Waka-Flocka and Mellowhype tracks and already the mosh-pits had started.
By the time Earlyman stepped on stage and performed ‘Kill’ off his debut album ‘Earl’ the crowed was hyped up as they could be. Then began an hour and a half lesson in how to rap live. When Earl came back from Samoa he played a show in New York and footage of it appeared online, his first performance since his return was filled with stutters, low vocals and the confidence of somebody who had been out of the game for 2 years. Now, after honing his skillset throughout 2013 he is back on top form.
His Major-Label debut ‘Doris’ was played pretty much in full, ‘Chum’, ‘Hive’ and ‘Burgundy’ all featured with some guest verses cut out which gave the show a sort of stop-start feeling to it, that was the only drawback to a near flawless set. He interspersed old and new stuff seamlessly and was hilarious when talking to the crowd, he at one point put 3 crowd members in ‘time-out’ for shouting out at ‘his party’. Last week at the SXSW festival in Texas, Earl’s OF cohort Tyler, The Creator was arrested for inciting a riot and Earl could have been guilty of it too, constantly asking where the mosh pits were. Every lyric is yelled back and there’s hardly any need for encouragement when Earl asks for the crowd to shout the RZA hook, “I’ll fuck the freckles off your face, bitch” from his track Molasses. He ended the show with track ‘Drop’ from Odd Future’s mixtape Radical and promised the fans when he had more material he would be back. I would implore you to be there next time, as Earl Sweatshirt is coming of age and he is sure to blow you away.