It was not a matter of if, but when we would get this Earl (@soapmanwun) and Alchemist (@alanthealchemist) album. This album (Voir Dire) was a long time coming, and I am grateful that it is finally here. Earl and Al have been working side by side for 10 years, and in that time span, we have been able to witness one of the greatest producer runs ever and the rise of one of modern Hip-Hop’s most important emcees. The last five years especially have been quite interesting for Earl. These have been his most influential years artistically, and in this time he has established himself as one of the veterans of the game. Since 2018 upon the release of Some Rap Songs, Earl has transformed himself into a pioneer of the genre. This album was a big step forward for Hip-Hop and played a large role in ushering in a new wave of creativity and experimentation. This wave of artistry had drastically expanded and gained many fans’ attention following the release of Some Rap Songs. Other artists and collaborators of Earl such as MIKE, Mavi, Maxo, Pink Siifu, etc. had been dabbling in this sound, but Earl’s contributions allowed this style to soar to new heights. This renaissance that sparked is reminiscent of other collective movements in Hip-Hop, most notably, the Native Tongues and the Soulquarians. However, it would be unfair to say that Earl was the inventor of this new sound, but he drastically changed the trajectory and made himself the face of it. He is undisputedly the godfather of this movement. This wave of artistry that I am speaking of does not have a name that is donned by the artists, but it is commonly referred to by fans as “sLUMs.”
Earl and the Alchemist’s contributions to “sLUms” really cannot be understated. They have both been vital to the careers of many dope artists who have benefited immensely from a cosign or feature of theirs. In regards to the lane that Earl has so successfully operated within, his status is comparable to the influence of Young Thug in the sphere of trap. When it comes to the most influential figures in Hip-Hop right now, Earl Sweatshirt’s name is very high on that list, and I don’t believe that his name is mentioned enough amongst the influential figures of the genre. One thing that will never cease to amaze me is the reach that Earl has obtained throughout Hip-Hop. He has perhaps the most interesting assortment of co-signs and features I’ve ever seen from a rapper. These include Frank Ocean (feature) Drakeo The Ruler (feature), Mac Miller (feature), Bankroll Fresh (co-sign), Tyler the Creator (feature), Lucki (feature), Vince Staples (feature), Danny Brown (feature), Freddie Gibbs (feature), Denzel Curry (co-sign), Boldy James (feature), Mavi (feature), and so many other artists that it would probably take up another page. A HUGE chunk of Hip-Hop is connected to him or comes back to him in some capacity. The same thing can be said about the Alchemist and how far his musical reach is. Al has been one of the premier producers in Hip-Hop for a very long time. His production can be found among the most gifted emcees in the underground (Maxo, Boldy James Pink-Siifu, MIKE, Armand Hammer, etc) and all the way to the biggest names in the genre (Kendrick, Mobb Deep, Nas, Snoop, Wayne, Mac Miller, Yachty and Cole).
In essence, Voir Dire is not just another rapper and producer collab album. For years now, fans have been fiending for a full-scale project from Earl and Al after 10 years of frequently working together. With that being said, I have to say that Voir Dire is one of my favorite releases of the year. The Alchemist per usual, delivered on yet another album, and one of my favorite things about this record is how varied his instrumentals were. The album kept a smooth and steady pace throughout the 11 tracks and maintained a similar vibe without having too much of a homogenous feel. Similarly to the majority of his other work since 2018, Voir Dire without a doubt is a sonic by-product of Earl’s cult classic, Some Rap Songs. Each track stands on its own individually, but it can be difficult to identify an overarching theme of the album. With Earl’s music, it can be challenging initially to unpack the meanings and messages that are conveyed within each track. The writing style of Earl is very intricate, technical, and complex in ways that can be difficult to decipher within the first listen or two. He makes music that is meant to be picked apart and reflected upon later. That is a vital part of his craft, and it is one of his most distinguishable characteristics in a genre where artistic individuality is gradually lessening. Tracing back to this album, it was kind of what one would expect from a project between the two. There weren’t truly any surprises on it, and Earl had really just stuck to his guns. The chemistry between Earl and Al was on full display throughout this project and it is definitely a dope moment for Hip-Hop. With this album and the subsequent tour, it will be the second time Earl and the Alchemist tour with each other. They will be making a stop in the Bay on Thursday, November, 9th at the Regency Ballroom in SF. This is undoubtedly a show you would not want to miss. Coming along with Earl and Al is Black Noi$e (@blackxnoise). Black Noi$e is also someone who has been collaborating with Earl for a little while now. Along with being his tour DJ, the Detroit producer has production credits on Earl’s 2022 album, SICK! as well as being a prominent producer for Some Rap Songs. Black Noi$e is best known for his experimental and ambient production for artists such as Lucki, Zelooperz, MIKE, Danny Brown, Pink Siifu, and Liv.e.
Tickets for this show are available through AXS. As I said, this is something you would not want to miss out on. Don’t let this one pass you by…