Earl Sweatshirt's relationship with hip-hop can be said to be one that's unorthodox in a multifaceted way. Take the 'outsider' rebel line his collective Odd Future quickly assumed, partly in response to the increasingly populist mentality of that was consuming hip-hop during the 'post-drake hype'. Or take the 'free Earl' mantra, and the Samoan youth incarceration episode - which both challenged and justified his appearance as a rebel without a cause, uncontrollable by conventional discipline, but pawn to the types of methods the Sally Jesse Raphael show employed to curb tearaway teens in the 90s.

With all this external "stuff" tacked onto the story of Earl Sweatshirt, the only precedent we have to prove that Earl Sweatshirt can rap ahead of his first official release Doris, is the accomplished free mix tape Earl. An exhibition of his lyrical prowess, which had him championed as the best rapper in Odd Future, (perhaps because we were in awe of his intricate, sometimes impenetrable flow, as esteemed as classic poetry or an academic essay), Doris certainly does much of the same, perhaps to a better degree. But the question is, did Earl's time in the juvenile correction centre enable his musical and behavioural maturity or did he just pick up where he left from? Essentially, does Earl make an album - fitted to part money with - or a mixtape, best released for free on the net?

Perhaps bravely, the record opens with a hazy verse from SK La' Flare. He sets the tone for the record, better than Earl Sweatshirt can - a sort of gloominess that's intrinsic to the likes of Staples' flow, as shown on the melancholic 'Hive' and disarming 'Centurion.' But this album is Sweatshirt's, and he let's us know this soon enough.

'Burgundy', an autobiographic tale on 'how life's changed since Samoa', is the perfect example of the versatility of Sweatshirt's flow, as he manages to manipulate the circular, loopy Pharrell Williams production, to what he desires - slowing, up and speeding down, finding possibilities for a lyric where there shouldn't be.

There's something about Sweatshirt rapping over a potent, cartoonish loop that we saw on 'Luper' in 2010. Just like on the resounding chime of 'Chum' and 'Whoa', it's almost as though the repetition in the production makes him work harder to instil variety.

Whether he knows it or not, this kind of production is his comfort zone. One problem that Sweatshirt runs into, similarly with Tyler, the Creator, is that when he attempts to articulate more avant garde sounds can end up sounding less Ravi Shanker, more soundtrack-to-a-Columbo episode, as on '523'. Not to say that the Sweatshirt is incapable of sounding original and "influenced", but at times it sounds as though he's still in the 'teeming with potential' stage of his career, immature attempts at articulating "sounds done by grown folks".

It's not that he can't do it, it's just that the album is not entirely consistent enough for that to be his 'thing'. With all this said, tracks like the RZA-featuring 'Molasses' (despite the slightly disconcerting "I'll fuck the freckles off you face," lyric), shows that Sweatshirt is more than capable of being that rapper he sees himself as.

The record closes on 'Knight', a sample heavy track sounding something like quintessential Kanye meets suspended in the air Neptunes style production. Featuring Domo Genesis, with Sweatshirt taking the final verse. The close of the record isn't quite anti-climatic, in fact there's nothing that Sweatshirt has done wrong, per se, on this record. But this song is an example of the occasional disconnect that is felt between Sweatshirt and the song. Where Doris goes 100% right is when you feel the him melding inextricably with the song, with his uncanny ability to manoeuvre in, around and through songs. Where it's wrong is when a wedge occurs between the articulation of sonic ideas and their ultimate projection, and subsequent to this, the inalienable disconnect that's not offensive but can leave you cold.