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Best New Music: Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside (Album Review)

Earl Sweatshirt is now his own character and is feeling grim. His stolen-prodigy affiliation with Odd Future set him up for glory under the shadow of his brother, Tyler, The creator, until his 2013 debut Doris confirmed his ability and depth as an artist. Now he is older and has a more sincere albeit darkened perception of his surroundings. Earl Sweatshirt’s sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a poetic viewpoint from an angry young man staying indoors, smoking weed and taking Xanax after a breakup.

Following the heyday of Odd Future and Earl’s Samoan military school captivity, he has matured and grown skeptical. Now 21 years old, his lyrics don’t hide his contempt, he is oriented towards real life hardship more than ever before. “My b**ch says the spliff takes the soul from me”, is one of the self-taunting lines that feature on opening track “Huey”, and the theme of living with anxiety, depression and rage continues throughout the LP. On “Mantra”, he raps about dealing with fame: “you can’t be mad at them when they want to pound a pic, because they the reasons the traffic on the browser is quick”. Much in the same way Tyler expressed similar feelings on his 2013 album Wolf, however Earl is sharper, more empathetic and classier in his style.

The record is sprinkled with funk, soul and elevator-music, mixed with hooks unmistakably Odd Future. Long stretches of purely instrumental beats elongate tracks and emphasise the serious tone it all. “AM // Radio” ends with a one and a half minute section of minimal violin style synths and a simple drum loop. “DNA” is structured over a piano track and also leaves a minute of lo-fi beats to fade out. Production is clean, Earl’s voice has developed and the tone of the record is more serious for it. You can feel that he is a man worn out through frustration and the subtle aggravations hold more power than the grotesque.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside was released via Columbia Records/Sony Music and his own imprint Tan Cressida, and Earl’s Twitter feeds shows that the release wasn’t entirely smooth sailing: “I WOULD LIKE TO PERSONALLY THANK @SonyMusicGlobal 4 F***ING UP THE ROLL OUT PROCESS OF MY SHIT. SOMEONE GOTS 2 PAY 4 THEIR MISTAKES”, he tweeted last week when the album was announced via the artwork and tracklisting. The whole album came as a surprise, only being announced a week prior to its release, and at the same time its lead single “Grief” was showcased with its negative/night-goggle music video.

Grief” is certainly the album’s darkest peak. Focusing on drug issues and seeing your surrounding company as “snakes”. Earl’s rapping sounds hauntingly unenthused: “Scrambling for Xanax out the canister to pop / Never getting out of hand, steady, handling my job”. Its backbone is ambient, featuring loops of deep monstrous vocal samples and finishing with a juxtaposed instrumental. The LP strongest track and hardest beat comes in “Off Top”, a brutal song just under two minutes long. Earl is alive and angry overlaying distorted drums and vocal loops. His rage is impassioned and he explains how he has always been troubled and sceptical, “I’ve been like this since the Motorola Razr”.

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is personal to say the least. Earl could have easily allowed dozens of producers to create beats for him but he dedicated his time and self produced nine out of the ten tracks on this record. He is only accompanied by a few other artists (Dash, Wiki, Na’Kel, Vince Staples), compared to Doris where eleven out of the fifteen tracks on the album feature other rappers. He has created a minimal, bass heavy, ambient record with little weakness.

Earl Sweatshirt has been in the spotlight for a quarter of his life as part of Odd Future, but is now more than ever a solo artist in his right. The LP escapes his fascinating back story and sees him as an established individual, with conflicts and concepts that come with his maturity. It’s a record made from his home, with all the down tempo melodies that live there. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is out now via Tan Cressida and Columbia Records/Sony Music, purchase it here.

Words by Oscar Nicholas // // Edited by Ayo Adepoju

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