Flying Lotus: "Between Friends (f/ Earl Sweatshirt & Captain Murphy)"

Single (2012)

By Matt Main | 14 August 2012

Only a few weeks after I write a review in which I mention Flying Lotus’ preference to make beats without a rapper over top, he releases “Between Friends.” This includes the unlikely combination of his production and Earl Sweatshirt, and possibly even a guest verse by FlyLo (or Tyler, the Creator, as many have guessed, though that seems to have been debunked on Twitter) on his own track. With that in mind, feel free ignore my assertion that in a quiet year for rap this might be one of the best tracks yet—a strangely perfect blend of styles to form what is described as “the new Wang Feeder.” It might not trip off the tongue like Kimye, but it’s a collab that proves a more enticing prospect than the promised “Perfect Bitch.”

I feel somewhat validated by the fact that the beat for this track sounds incredible even standalone, but then what else would you expect? Once FlyLo sets in motion this dusty beat it twinkles like an orb would in the kind of ballroom this was made for, a grand occasion through the prism of memory, perhaps. The track is interrupted by a coda that acts as a digestif: syrupy, swirling, while you think about what you’ve just heard, slowly nodding your head as it draws to a close.

And what you’ve just heard, of course, is the bit most people are talking about. “Between Friends” features a couple of impressive verses from Earl Sweatshirt that thankfully resist the temptation to make juvenile rape jokes, instead giving a nod to FlyLo’s “aliens be going hard” production and a shout-out to Frank Ocean’s favorite wristwatch. Guest spots like these rekindle belief in the potential of Earl, who is markedly ahead of his Odd Future peers when it comes to rapping, and sounds better for his extended absence from the group during its maximum hype period. Whether Captain Murphy is actually FlyLo or a pitched-down Earl or someone else entirely seems almost extraneous; if you weren’t sure that the pseudonym was a ruse to have people clutching at straws, look no further than “(Ha ha ha) they can’t get past the deep voice” for evidence that the joke is on the listener—one between friends, as it were. I think I’m happy to bear the brunt while the jokes come packaged like this.