After being exiled from his home country for a few years by his mother, the mysterious and pensive Los Angeles emcee Earl Sweatshirt returns with his second solo LP I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside.
As the title suggests, Earl isn’t a a rapper you’d be likely to hear at a nightclub. His music is best savoured in your bedroom, on your own, or walking on a quiet night with a pair of headphones on, trying to decipher his complex wordplay and metaphors, that are laced with true life incidents that influence his lyrics.
He first shot to prominence with his solo self-titled mixtape in 2010, produced by mentor Tyler the Creator. At the time, people weren’t sure how to view this brash new group of young rappers. Do they care at all about what they’re doing? Why are they giving away all their music for free? Are they just taking the piss?
The latter is definitely the closest truth, however, people started acknowledging them as more than just messers, when they dropped the video for the track ‘Earl’. His complicated wordplay, combined with a ‘fuck you’ attitude, cemented him as more than a shock value rapper.
After the EARL mixtape came out, he was shipped off to boarding school in Samoa. His mother was concerned about his reckless lifestyle in L.A. and decided to get him as far away from America as she could.
At 18 years of age, he returned to the States, armed with two years worth of writing material, hungrier than ever to continue were he left off. In the summer of 2013, he released his first solo album Doris, a short, self-examining, brooding record, best encapsulated by the first single ‘Chum’.
‘Chum’ is a song that lays bare Earl’s deepest insecurities, inner demons, and regrets that haunt him the most. He confronts his conflicting feelings about growing up without a father, the ‘i don’t give a fuck’ persona drops as he confesses:
“It’s probably been twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless, And I just used to say I hate him in dishonest jest ,When honestly I miss this nigga, like when I was six, And every time I got the chance to say it I would swallow it.”
As well as questioning where he fits in: “Too Black for the White kids and too White for the Blacks.”
Earl is more than just a depressed, morose rapper, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a thought provoking, fun, to the point record, that features chilled out tracks like ‘Faucet’, ‘Inside’, and ‘DNA’, and brings back a little of the 2010 energy in the tunes ‘Wool’ and ‘Mantra’.
The darker, more private topics like his father, his vices and his relationship with his mom are still all there, unresolved, but he’s still trying to face them head-on. Just as ‘Chum’ was the key song on his last LP, ‘Grief’ is the focal track of this album, highlighting his escapades with drugs, brothels and the police.
The 21-year-old Earl Sweatshirt hasn’t quite created his masterpiece yet, but I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, clearly takes him another step closer to reaching that goal.