What’s the deal with Earl Sweatshirt? Not only were we left to tweet quips about a curt album title, but we also got the sonic abyss of “Grief” — which is more bitter than mournful. The bleak instrumental was notable in how it was a complete shift from the hosannahs fans were (and still) singing about Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly. And damn, Earl really improved on the boards. His production always has that feeling of discordance. That’s doubled here with its encompassing texture combined with Earl’s gnarling presence (“Dealing with the stomach pains just from birthing n**as’ s**t”).
As you’d guess, I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside isn’t merely a tongue-in-cheek joke. After some self-actualization on Doris, Earl fully takes on his position as rap’s 21-year-old curmudgeon. He’s not particularly worn out with fame like his more famous contemporaries, nor is he particularly invested in speaking on the issues of Black America. With ten tracks in under 30 minutes, it plays out as mostly a dim-lit “me” album. Yet, it’s somehow compelling. The darkness isn’t new for Earl, but once again, his technical shiftiness and glint of verve within his deadpan delivery prevents the project from falling victim to static.
There’s something else that makes itself apparent, too. At this point, Earl is a well-developed on-record persona. It’s something that slips into the intricacy and focus of his rhyming triple-time performances (“Mantra”) or enunciating to give the invective extra force that comes off effortless. It also helps that his punchlines rarely miss. Tracks like the Left Brain-produced “Off That” (“Take a nigga’s seat like it was made for me”) are backhanded taps. Others, like the lyrical rapid fire of the album-ending “Wool” (“Pick your pants up, boy, you dancing with a demon”) are also delivered with a sarcastic smirk.
The guests do well, too. Na’kel ends up with one of the project’s best verses on the surprisingly poignant turn on “DNA.” Vince Staples won’t surprise with his appearance on “Wool.” He tends to be good when he raps (“Bullet hit his forehead, it exit out his under arm”). But this is Earl’s show, and it’s one that’s well-worth the paltry 30 minutes it asks of him.
Stream Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside on Spotify now.
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