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

Earl was vulgar on Doris. At such a young age he validated himself as one of hip-hop’s most talented on the mic. His effortless style then, prevails here. And to be sitting on this recording since June, for Columbia to – as Earl professed, ‘fuck it up’ – you’ve got to feel somewhat sorry for him. The interim releases that surfaced would provide the hip-hop world sudden hope of his return: 45 and QUEST / POWER were brilliant, and even the Red Bull fiasco alongside Lil Herb on the Earl produced, Knucklehead. And be sure that there’s more to come, perhaps even another full-length to drop out of the blue, at least in keeping with hip-hop’s most recent surprise offerings of late.

The young Thebe has grown up and is beginning to feel more and more like hip-hop’s dark horse, authenticating himself further as the cool, calm combatant. His rhyming is as vicious and at times approximately as wacky, albeit thrilling as the great DOOM. He embraces such dark, often disturbing content as often as he feels fit and has always possessed an ear for a typically sinister sound and sample to satisfy, and on many occasions, heighten. He’s an artist with a vision. Most will assert that he hasn’t the same scope of Kendrick’s most recent and arguably over-analysed mega album – but what’s so endearing and admirable about Earl is that he’s quite content rapping over what sounds like the final dying dregs of a cruddy, ramshackle drum machine.

His rhyming is as vicious and at times approximately as wacky, albeit thrilling as the great DOOM

The production herein, to say the least – is markedly coarse. Cue Grief; one as dark and gloomy in content as its monochrome video shoot: “All I see is snakes in the eyes of these niggas”… its final close an epiphany of sort to its gruff general practise, and one so that proves miraculously uplifting. The opener, Huey warrants the albums most playful piece with its blithe sampling and Earl ranting about weed and Colt 45: “My bitch say the spliff take the soul from me” he affirms; an ominous Grown Ups featuring a wheezy tremelo effect saddled to another, consistently lo-fi, bass heavy beat. The dizzying final track, Wool with Vince Staples, the flash of sampling struck at the end of AM// Radio with New York’s Wiki is majestic to say the least. “Just trying to see an end and some steadier hands” Earl mumbles on Faucet, the sound unmistakably his own.

So striking on I Don’t Like Shit, is an element that feels often overlooked in the current whirlwind of highly provocative subject matter in Kendrick’s most recently exalted To Pimp A Butterfly or all round doltish politics from such lunatics as Kanye West incarnate – and that is the credit rappers deserve for how effortless one can spit bars, rhyme such and marry beats and samples; and at that, with memorable technique. Earl Sweatshirt makes a crucial return here. He has Lamar’s lead single: the notoriously commercial, i, feel somewhat ostentatious and tacky when compared to any one entry herein. Earl channels raw appeal and exploits hip-hop’s raw essentials to such momentous effect. Let’s hope Ellison invites him once again to collaborate on the next Murphy admission. And what happened to Odd Future? Or the Punchinello, Tyler the Creator? Who’s to care when Earl Sweatshirt is on his game? He governs a world of his own, and a vital one at that. By virtue of such ribald production values, his music might feel less ambitious than a lot of his game peers but I’m not sure he cares what many, if any, think. It has a sure magnetism. Earl is unquestionably underground. This album, if one would care to take full notice of its title, is called I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt… and it’s splendid.

Words: Joseph Madden

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