Released: 2013

Features: Tyler, The Creator

“Whoa” by Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator is a raw, fiery diss track aimed at critics and competitors. It showcases the artists’ ferocious lyrical prowess, their twisted humor and their unapologetic attitude towards their shared history, their status in the rap game and their propensity for courting controversy.

The opening lines set the tone for the rest of the song with Earl Sweatshirt playfully chastising those who thought he’d gone soft after his more introspective release, “Chum”. He’s not afraid to return to his roots, though, and does so by spinning verbose and aggressive bars, all while dismissing those who aren’t willing to join him back in the proverbial trenches of the 2010 era.

The first verse sees Earl in his rawest form, delivering a rapid burst of complex wordplay. He talks about enjoying the spoils of his success – indulging in drugs, dismissing inferior rappers, and living a high-flying yet dangerous life. He uses metaphors to describe his sharp lyrics (‘actually flick cigarette ash at bitch niggas’) and illicit activities (‘eight nickels of hash, delay quick, and then dash’).

Earl Sweatshirt Whoa (feat. Tyler, The Creator)

Earl’s reference to ‘Saint Nicholas pad’ could be understood as a way of saying he’s ‘coming to town’ to dish out gifts and punishments, much like Santa Claus does at Christmas. The verse ends with ‘Get ’em higher than the pitch of metal tea kettle songs’, a line which underlines his influence and his ability to thrill and captivate listeners even as he revels in his controversial reputation.

Next comes the hook, where ‘G-O-L-F-dub-A-N-G’ is repeatedly spelled out. This is a nod to their hip-hop collective known as ‘Golf Wang’ or ‘Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’, symbolizing unity and strength.

In the second verse, Earl Sweatshirt again showcases his propensity for complex wordplay, painting a boisterous, irreverent, and chaotic picture of his world. He cleverly compares his flow to a series of savage yet comical attacks – from a swift fist off your chin to a storm that sweeps in and leaves just as quickly.

He also references popular culture with phrases like ‘broom he usually use for Quidditch’, drawing a parallel between his brutal takedowns and a violent, fictional sport from the Harry Potter series. The mention of ‘ legit manga’ implies that he’s trying to keep his art genuine, as a nod to the traditional style of Japanese comic books.

Earl also makes a striking comment about his writing process with ‘probably written with some used syringes’. A disturbing image, but one that amplifies the raw, edgy, and disturbing aspects of his lyrical content.

As Earl wraps up the verse, he sarcastically remarks about those who pretend they could beat him in a rap battle (‘do pretend like he could lose to spitting’) and warns those who disrespect him of severe consequences (‘Get a fucking thunder to his neck’). It’s a clear statement of his self-confidence and refusal to back down from a challenge.

The final lines, ‘Stay off the block niggas / You’re not welcome / Bitch (O-F, nigga, yeah)’ are a bold declaration of territorial pride. Here, Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt claim the hip-hop landscape as their own, warning others to stay out of their way.

In conclusion, “Whoa” serves as a defiant return to the raw, undiluted style that put Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt on the map. It’s a showcase of their unique brand of lyricism, full of rich metaphors, unexpected turns of phrase and inside references that reward careful listening. Most importantly, the song is a confident assertion of their place in the hip-hop canon, reminding listeners of their remarkable skill and irreplaceable influence.