Earl Sweatshirt's latest album is a druggy, introspective vision from one of rap's most distinctive young voices.
Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Get Outside is a short and moody album. It also happens to be a very focused, quality listen, and possibly the best output we’ve received from the California native. Through bummed-out stoned raps and shoegazing beats, Earl proves to be one of the most talented, albeit depressed, rappers in the game.
At just 30 minutes, the album hangs in the awkward territory between an EP and an LP. Nevertheless, Earl has said, “I feel like this is my first album. This is the first thing that I've said that I fully stand behind, like the good and the bad of it. I've never been behind myself this much.”
That statement is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Earl is putting out the art he’s happy with, but on the flip side, the art is anything but happy. As Earl wallows around airy, self-produced beats, he surely knows he's going to polarize many fans on I Don't Like Shit.
Earl gets personal on this album. On "Mantra" he eludes to his romantic relationships--"Tryna keep it calm but I snap at you / Now you're taking all your property back and it's obvious that / That apart from the fact that we fuck and it's bomb."
There are a lot of drugs on the album, from Xanax to acid. On “Grown Ups”, he kicks things off with, “Feel this cage when that acid fade / Face the same but your mind has changed.” On “DNA” he’s downing whiskey until it becomes problematic: “Intercepting a fifth of whisky / And neckin it 'til I'm dizzy / I never was defenseless / I never hugged a fence / I pick a side and trust in it / Stomach full of drugs and shit."
On “Inside”, Earl blames fame for keeping free drugs around him: “Fame is the culprit who give me drugs without owing cash.” On “DNA”, he also mentions he may need to find a way to protect himself if his celebrity continues to grow: “Tell momma get a gun if I get too popular / I'm just being honest with it / Tell her stop whining, it ain't no mo problems.”
Sweatshirt is prolific with his bars, stretching the English language out as well as anyone in hip-hop can do it. He doesn’t just rhyme the words at the end of each bar--instead connecting all over the grid in a way that makes your head spin with delight. In regards to poetic skill, Earl is in the top-tier of hip hop, right there with cats like Kendrick Lamar and MF Doom.
There’s only one track Earl didn’t produce under his alias randomblackdude. There aren’t any big-name features to try and garner attention. Instead, he employs lesser-known MCs that he’s closer with these days. He even says, “Name getting bigger than the difference between us / Niggas is fake, I limit the features I give 'em,” which sounds like it could be a reference to the glaring omissions of his Odd Future buddies.
Earl’s come a long way with his beats, and this batch all capture a very specific mood that Earl embodies on the album. From its very title I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, to its ominous beats, and dark and delirious lyrics, it's more experimental than almost anything else in mainstream hip-hop.
Vince Staples, who will tour with Earl their upcoming "Redy 2 Leave" tour, is the biggest name featured. Da$h, a lesser-known member of the A$AP Mob makes an appearance, as does Wiki, member of the NYC trio Ratking. Odd Future affiliate Na’Kel rounds out the roster of under-the-radar features on the album (Doris had Tyler, The Creator, Mac Miller, RZA, Casey Veggies, Frank Ocean, and Domo Genesis).
Earl's friendlessness makes another lyrical appearance on “Grown Ups”, on which the hook goes, “Don’t know where I’m going, don’t know where I been / Never trust these hoes, can’t even trust my friends / Tell that bitch to roll up, fucking with some grown ups.” It isn’t the first time Earl has been wary of those closest to him; this line from Doris’ “20 Wave Caps” comes to mind: “Cause I don't like my fucking homies dip, bruh, they all.”
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside gets slightly uncomfortable at times, but overall it's great record. The short length works in its favor, and it flies over you in a foggy, but cohesive, listen. The lyrics will make you worry about the MC’s well-being, but no one said it was going to be an easy path for Earl. The kid has had it rough since Odd Future blew up while he was at boarding school.
Always in a bind with friends and family alike, Earl embodies that “nobody understands me” young adult angst we’ve all dealt with. On this record, he expresses his discontent with life and details his use of drugs to cope with it. It's deep, dark, and scarily relatable.