Earl Sweatshirt and the Alchemist Stretch Out (Just a Little) on 'VOIR DIRE'

Exclaim! Staff Picks

BY Alex HudsonPublished Oct 10, 2023

The other day, my colleague Calum Slingerland asked me what's the first thing that grabs me when I listen to a new hip-hop album; I responded that it's a combination of the beat and the timbre of the rapper's voice, and that I don't usually parse the lyrics until a little later.

With that in mind, VOIR DIRE is instantly inviting. The Alchemist stitches together more gorgeous soul samples and beatless beauties, while Earl Sweatshirt has one of the nicest-sounding voices in all of hip-hop: a rich, deep drawl that effortlessly glides through tongue-twisting wordplay, the aural equivalent of watching a bodybuilder pirouette, even when I have trouble following what he's actually rapping about.

Earl's last few albums have been made up of murky collages and bite-sized tracks. With 11 songs in just 27 minutes, VOIR DIRE is characteristically small-scale, although it's actually his longest album in eight years. It's a pleasure to hear him finally stretch out, even just a little bit, as the Alchemist continues his golden run of excellent albums.

(Warner Records)

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