[dropcap]E[/dropcap]arl Sweatshirt released his sophomore studio album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside on March 23, 2015 under Columbia Records. Coming in at 29 minutes 56 seconds long, this is a brief but in-depth self-expression project from Earl that shows a new, more honest side to the pensive rapper.
Unsurprisingly, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is not just a creative title, it is a statement which sets the tone for the album as a whole. Much like Kendrick Lamar’s latest release To Pimp a Butterfly, the project should be taken in its entirety, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, where TPAB laments the state of society and the impending need for revolution, Earl’s album is largely egocentric in contrast. He finds a way to keep the largely personal subject matter interesting for listeners, however, discussing things like his fame, his battles with depression, his separation from Odd Future and the rest of the world, and his evolution as an artist.
Fans of Earl’s debut studio album Doris won’t be disappointed, as I Don’t Like Shit boasts a mostly similar style. Keeping with the isolation theme of his project, Earl handles most of the production on this album singlehandedly under the moniker randomblackdude. Rumbling basslines and heavy percussion work dominate the music, overlaid by distorted sample chops. Earl seems to have renovated the vibe of his music somewhat, however, trading in the dark unsettling energy in his earlier music for a more jazz-inspired sound on this latest endeavor. The instrumental mixes sound somewhat unpolished for a major studio album, but this only adds to the overall grimy effect that fans of Earl have come to know and love.
The brooding sound displayed in Grief is a perfect example. Check out the video, with visuals that parallel the altered state of mind conjured up by his music:
The rest of the album is similarly trippy and reflective, and compared to his debut project, Earl has only gotten better. Sweatshirt seems to have come to terms with himself not only as an artist, but as a person. As such, his latest release mirrors the realism listeners experienced in Chum more so than the wordplay and self-importance of Hive.
Check out these lyrics from track number 6 on the album – Grown Ups:
Plotting on my neighbors,
Asking God for favors, guess he isn’t home,
Probably cause that f*cking faith I didn’t show
Relatability is only part of the appeal of this release, however. In terms of lyricism, Earl Sweatshirt has always been in a class all his own. Even the most tenured of hip hop heads would be hard-pressed to find a rapper who can keep up with Earl’s lyrical ability. His extensive vocabulary and dedication to the art of poetry in his writing have solidified the 21-year-old as one of the strongest lyricists to ever pick up a microphone. Earl’s way with words allow him to tackle any topic and keep it interesting for the listener. While Earl Sweatshirt’s flow throughout I Don’t Like Shit is familiar and largely unchanging, the sub-30 minute album length entertains such consistency without becoming monotonous. Long time listeners of the rapper are familiar with his characteristic low-intensity delivery. This album bears no exception, and fits the meditative subject matter of his writing perfectly.
While the lyrical stylings of Earl are impressive, the album is lacking in any real catchy instrumentals or hooks. Even hardcore fans of Sweatshirt are unlikely to have any tracks off of I Don’t Like Shit stuck in their heads after the music stops playing. That being said, the depth of his lyrics and uniqueness of his sound as a whole are certainly worth listening to several times over.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is a story-telling album that reads less like a storybook and more like stream of consciousness in rhyme. Earl’s amazing ability to transform the seemingly mundane into poetic verse elevates the ten-track album from a potentially boring think piece to an immersive exploration of self and the human psyche on the verge of adulthood. Earl has replaced his once overly abstract lyricism with a blatant honesty that is unexpected, yet completely welcome. He discusses his fears, the gripping power of his emotions, and his deepest thoughts, trading in the dark fantasy subject matter which once characterized his music for an unimpeded look into his soul.
Arguably one of the best cuts on the album is also one of the most authentic. In Grief, Earl writes on the hook:
I ain’t been outside in a minute,
I been living what I wrote,
And all I see is snakes in the eyes of these n****s,
Momma taught me how to read ‘em when I look
With this album, Earl distances himself from his Odd Future roots and steps into his own as an artist. This isn’t an album to play and expect to be uplifted and inspired. Rather, it’s an introspective and at times, depressing piece of poetic self-realization. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is the Earl Sweatshirt album fans have been craving since Doris.
You can stream the album in its entirety below:
Let us know what you think in the comments section and make sure to leave your own rating of the LP below!