ALBUM REVIEW: Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Earl Sweatshirt is modern enigma in hip hop, emerging from relative obscurity as a silent member of Odd Future to become one of their leading figures. Ever melancholy, meditative and introspective his raps are an insight into the mind of a turbulent youth frustrated with life; Earl speaks from a subterranean perspective in perpetual search of contentment in the midst of a confusing and frustrating world.

Following his interminably dark and meditative debut album Doris, released in 2013, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is his long form reintroduction to the scene. And sonically it draws upon an old school sonic palette which highlights Earl’s musical background. Jazzy chords initiate the album and the listener is invited to reflect on some of the issues at the forefront of Earl’s mind; dependence on weed, absence from family and continually chasing money with compatriots set the context for the rest for the album. And “Mantra” re-enacts Earl’s physical distance from the scene, his voice sounding afar as if emanating from the depths of his mind. Friendship tensions, trust and the trial of having to deal with success seem to have become the modern mantra of Earl’s life.
A definite soulful tone is present throughout the album and the traditional boom bap sound is introduced on “Faucet” as Earl flows into introspective flows; he shows a more sensitive side on this track, revealing the internal dialogue ongoing whilst considering how best to approach life. And ‘Grief’ is more overt in expressing the suspicious aggressiveness that’s defined the album so far, Earl explaining why he’s been so reclusive from the scene.
“Off Top” sees Earl reveal some of the issues faced during childhood that have created the character we’re listening to. His ambitions to provide for those closest to him remains a consistent theme of Earl’s art and in spite of his turbulent mindset, it’s clear his heart is set on personal redemption and social responsibility for loved ones.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside goes into it’s darker depths on “Grown Ups”, Earl scrutinising those that have gone before him as false role models. But the tone gains a more positive resonance on “AM // Radio”, the fluid jazziness present at the start of the album returning as Earl shares memories from a nostalgic space. His beginnings skating, kicking it with pals and being immersed in a drug fuelled routine all seen as fundamental to his current state. Or perhaps Earl is sharing stories of how he’d like life to return to? Either way, the moral of his story is life is not perfect yet in every situation there is beauty and banes to deal with.
Wavy production on ‘AM // Radio’ blends seamlessly into the immersive smoothness of ‘Inside’. We return to an introspective space as Earl shares what feels like a freestyle stream of consciousness reinforcing his overwhelming desire to stay away from distractions; as the title of the album suggests he doesn’t like outside and yet this track explores that whilst he’s separate from the world, he is scheming on how best to continue his come up.
‘DNA’ is the penultimate track on the album and the line, ‘It’s cold in the deep end’ seems to be the epitome of how Earl views his life. Staying high, striving to claim everything he sets his sights on and keeping a close circle around him are the main concerns of Earl Sweatshirt. The bassy analogue production accentuates the sombre mood of “DNA” and featuring friend, Na’kel, adds a strong verse widening on Earl’s perspective.
Closing the album is ‘Wool’. Starkly chilling production stands in stark contrast to the direct impactful bars of Earl. He ends the album on the note of maintaining faith in himself, regardless of how much that may distance him from society and those closest.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is an intricate tapestry displaying the often blurred and other times lucid stream of conscious of Earl Sweatshirt. His honesty in admitting the internal struggles he’s experiencing is core to Earl Sweatshirt’s art and it wouldn’t surprise me if he delves into an even more subverted space to continue relating his view of society. Stay locked for more from one of Odd Future’s front me and meditate on the music in the meantime.
Top Tracks: “Faucet”, “Inside” and “DNA”.
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