August 19, 2016

Thomas Johnson doesn’t have time for playing Sorry!

Earl is permanently frustrated. Imagine the exasperation brought on from the impulse to eloquently explain to the world what’s wrong and why you’re anxious — only to be answered “MOAR Epar.” How irritating to be that talented and preternaturally wise, but still love up to expectations brought on before you were old enough to vote. Reruns are easy — telling a different story is much harder

At 22, balance is a question of optimism. When you’re the 22 year-old best rapper of your age group, balance is impossible. Equilibrium between want and need is hard enough without the input of a handful of hundreds of thousands of millennials who believe their angst is a justification to ignore yours—yet demanding that you supply the soundtrack. “Balance” is a minute-nineteen second lament for anyone who cares to listen. A rumination on mortality, a plea for a moment of earned selfishness.  He doesn’t owe anything.

Earl’s was sixteen when he released his self-titled debut, inadvertently making him the poster child for shitheads with an internet connection. At eighteen, he tried to tell you that wasn’t him, but few listened. For two-thirds of his career thus far, he’s tried to work through our assumptions. Since “Chum,” the lead single to his debut album, he’s repeatedly answered our questions. We’ve annotated, falsely assumed, and brushed off his answers for nearly a quarter of his life. He’s young and introverted and self-conscious and smart and staring down an world he never asked for.

“Balance” is another plea for peace, another request for solace. Balance might be too much to ask for.