Words By Emanuel Vinson
It’s the fervent sense of purpose that drives Lil Herb’s 2013 Welcome To Fazoland mixtape. However, “Knucklehead” shows how things get more ambiguous when Herb leaves the streets. The song, commissioned by Red Bull for their 20Before15 series, is a plaintive soul cut produced by and featuring Earl Sweatshirt.
The song settles in a murky middle ground. Earl’s natural mode is also one of cognitive dissonance. Yet to hear Herb coaxed into mixed feelings leaves the listener wondering about the unstoppable force he embodied on tracks like “Kill Shit.”
Herb tsk-tsks his younger self with a shrug. He notes how he used to cut school, kill n*ggas, and cause a general ruckus but doesn’t tie it into some revelation. He has no advice, he doesn’t sound grateful. He only expresses bemusement at getting to f*** b*tches in nice hotel rooms now.
Earl’s verse is another knotty scripture. It’s entertaining but it doesn’t sound like the duo had a single discussion before the song comes together. Where the conversation between their contributions lies is in their dead-eyed demeanor. Herb’s inability to form a coherent feeling around his retrospection is consistent with the numbness he has always displayed. At least he had something to keep him occupied, though.