"N***** wanna want to hear you rap, don't nobody care about how you feel," Odd Future collaborator Vince Staples derisively proclaims over the stuttering drums and in-house horn section of "Burgundy". After three years of waiting, an over-publicized retreat to Samoa, an Internet-baiting return track, and an impossibly dense appearance on an all-time posse cut; any fan of Odd Future and Earl wanted an album of raps. This was the "hot and bothered astronaut," "crushin' motherf***ers like moths in a mosh-pit," always smart-mouthed and quick-witted. All Earl had to do for Doris was stack raps on raps on raps, instead he undertook an entirely different construction project.
Not that there isn't plenty of pure, unadulterated rapping here. "Hive", the third single to spin off of the album is a midnight marauder through a crumbling Los Angeles, where "death's less important when the Lakers lose". Vince Staples appears once more to strut down Death Row; carrying a "yomper big as Larry Johnson" and piling bodies up "Auschwitz". Earl mentions "crawling down 'Fax like a rich n**** centipede", and the beat stitched up by Matt Martians and Earl suggests that slimy lurching quality. Spaghetti-Western guitar ripples of "Hoarse" provides Earl an ample opportunity to slow down, while still "leaving opponents floating with paper and dirty porcelain". I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite line from the album, though "rolling slick as the bottom of the bowling kicks," is hard not to love. Jandek death howls appear from behind a creaking door, ensuring the song's nightmarish status.
Earl's living through another kind of nightmare on "Chum", where it's been "twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless" and he's hunted down by attention-seeking news sleuths. Over a prodding piano line, Sweatshirt attempts to make amends with his mother and takes up an older brother in Tyler. In the track's most telling moment the 19-year old Earl is "indecisive, scatterbrained, and frightened." It's easy to forget he's still a kid trying to keep his head above water. The aforementioned "Burgundy" is equally autobiographical, finding Earl lamenting the loss of his grandmother (for whom the album is named) while he's stuck "trying to get this album cracking." A friend called the song "special" and I couldn’t imagine it at first. Now I can see it. Rare is the occasion an artist opens up the diary of his life and invites us to thumb through it; written in such rich detail we can hear his heart racing "in the midst of a tornado".
"Sunday" flips to another page, focusing on rocky relationships and swearing off substances. Earl's dreams have gotten dimmer since he "stopped smoking pot," as his relationship plots a similar course. He struggles to pick up the phone at the beginning of the hazy track and soon enough he's asking "why we argue a lot." The up-and-down is embodied in the chorus, Earl confessing: "and loving you is a little different, I don't like you a lot." Loving someone is difficult, though liking them is no cakewalk either. For his part, Frank Ocean raps about leaving the object of his affections "at terminal three," vanishing into his sleeper seat. In the outro, he's wondering "what we're about?" Amidst all the traveling and extended vacations, you can forget the reason you’re coming home.
"Knight" provides a temporary remedy from the nausea inducing beats, prescribing a soul sample of the Magictones (previously put to good use by Raekwon). Most-improved-rapper on the O.F. team Domo Genesis is "chasing profits" despite his promise to finish college. Domo opens up about his own absentee father and his success in spite of him. Earl sends a "shout (out) to the fathers that didn't raise us." They're scouring the same abandoned mine and yielding diverse results. Domo maybe the resident stoner of the group, but his ambitions burn like bleeding lava. Earl is simmering, slowly balling his fist up. Domo's the child still trying to prove something, Earl's refusing to dwell in the past and filling the void any way he can.
"N***** think cause you f***ing made "Chum" and got all personal that n***** won't go back to that old f***ing 2010 s***," Tyler bellows in his rasp at the onset of verbal onslaught "Whoa". We're given the "misadventures of a s***-talker," whose is just as likely to found "bruising gimmicks with the broom he usually use for Quidditch," as he is to "get a nice spanking" courtesy of a new Sears catalog. Earlier during "Sasquatch" Tyler cruised around in a truck plastered by puppy signs, looking for One Direction fans to kidnap. Bouncing perfectly off each other, the two also manage to highlights the differences between themselves. Tyler's blissfully stuck in a state of arrested development, he's "soaring to Taco Bell" while Earl's given up on ordering from the kid's menu. On Doris we can hear Earl rap, but we can also hear the sound of him growing up.