The Renaissance of Earl Sweatshirt: A Review.

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Perhaps this isn’t the most positive album to have on rotation, especially after a pretty harsh relapse and leaving a detox center; but despite it’s theme of hopeless morbidity and deafening darkness, there is light and inspiration to be found in Earl Sweatshirt’s growth as an artist…even more so when you take into account his age (21.) I know its sounds like I’m on dude’s dick heavy (pause,) especially with the James Joyce comparison, but I will say for the record: I was never a huge fan of Odd Future or Earl’s self-titled mixtape, Earl. Although it was universally acclaimed, I couldn’t see what all the hype was surrounding this kid and his band of weirdos. I know Odd Future fans are probably fuming right now and throwing their laptops or phones with their emo asses, but hey, I’m just being honest. I won’t lie, I did like Tyler The Creator’s “Sandwiches” and the infectious “Yonkers,” but other than those two songs, I wasn’t fucking with anything Odd Future. I loved Hodgy Beats’ verse on “Sandwiches,” but what stood out most is when Tyler the Creator proclaimed: Free Earl, that’s the fuckin’ shit/ and if you disagree, suck a couple pimple covered dicks! I was like, “who the fuck is this puto, Earl? I don’t want to suck any pimple covered dicks!” So, being the curious and avid Hip-Hop fan I am, I listened to Earl and was immediately impressed by the young emcee’s bars and complicated rhyme schemes, which reminded me of a young Nas on “Live at The Barbeque,” especially when he shot directly at mutha fuckas like me: Wolf Gang, we ain’t barkin’, naw/ try talkin’ on a blog with your fuckin’ arms cut off! Despite his technicality and obvious skills as a rapper, the mixtape lacked in substance and wasn’t strong enough to fully ignite my excitement for his artistry. Also, I usually tap the fuck out when 14 year old kids start rapping about raping girls and shit. And although his debut studio album, Doris, was met with even more critical acclaim, which was well deserved, and showcased his maturity as a lyricist and his hunger to become a great emcee, I still wasn’t buying into the hype. Of course, tracks like “Burgundy” and “Hive” were obvious signs of mastering bars and his back and forths with Tyler The Creator on “Sasquatch” and “Whoa” were fun; but there was something missing, and I believe that something to be Earl himself.

odd-future_021013aMy personal favorites off Doris were “Chum” and “Sunday,” not because of the heavy subject matter of both songs, but for a brief moment, Earl quietly stepped away from the cartoonish  stylings of Odd Future and displayed his honesty and uncaged emotions for those who cared to see. But despite these gems, I still felt, for the most part, the album as a whole was boring. I even fell asleep the first couple times listening to it. And I’ve fallen asleep to albums before, like Illamtic or Ready To Die, but that’s because they’re so beautiful they put me into a dream state. It wasn’t until I heard Earl’s mind numbing verse on “Robes,” which is off one of my favorite albums of 2014, Freddie Gibbs’ Cocaine Piñata, that I really started pay attention to Earl Sweatshirt. Up until that point, I guess you could say, I was sucking tons of pimple covered dicks (pause!) But now, with the release of his second studio album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, I totally agree with Tyler The Creator’s plea to “Free Earl;” however, with the undeniable artistry of this almost perfect rap album, I believe Earl has finally freed himself.

Earl Sweatshirt Performs At O2 Islington Academy In LondonI Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is literally a portrait of an artist as a young man. Earl Sweatshirt, with no apologies, breaks away from his goofy, Odd Future past fans fell in love with. And although his habits prove he is still a kid at heart, his new found energy and arrival to manhood is undeniable. On “Mantra,” he viciously calls out the fabrication of today’s rap industry and proves his authenticity as a true emcee in this new age of Hip-Hop. He shows off his self-awareness and sounds focused as ever, spitting lines like: I’ma show you how it’s done right, nigga/ Drop this when the sunlight gone/ Better run right home when the sky turn black/ Screaming “fuck five-0” ’til my line go flat! And although his discovery of self is fueled by anger and nostalgia, the young Emcee is clearly making steps towards enlightenment. On “Faucet,” he begs for independence and warns fans, peers, and loved ones to not disturb the delicate process of finding himself; and on “Grief,” arguably the most disturbing track on the album, Earl, fueled by drugs and alcohol, reflects on his hardships and even separates himself from his old friends with no remorse: You circus niggas, you turning into tricks/I was making waves, you was surfin’ in ‘em/Dealing with the stomach pains just from birthing niggas’ shit. He nods off at the end of the track, slurring his words, and his mind wakes up to probably the biggest realization of his young career: I just want my time and my mind in tact/ when they both gone, you can’t buy em’ back. Through out the whole album, Earl is at his best, fully self aware of his artistry and the sacrifices that must be made to maintain his growth. Even his guest spots step up to the plate and deliver home runs with Vince Staples dropping fire on “Wool” and Na’Kel channeling his inner Scarface on “DNA.” My only criticism of the album would be the production, which falls flat at times; but given the fact Earl did most of the beats himself, it only makes this body of work more impressive. In conclusion, I hope my days of sucking pimple covered dicks are over because I believe in Earl; this album is just a stepping stone to greatness in music and I hope the young artist uses what he has learned to create a Hip-Hop Ulysses for his next project (no pressure.)

RATING: 4.5/5 HIP HOP EXCELLENCE; DESTINED FOR CLASSIC STATUS

Buy this album and support the artist: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/i-dont-like-s**t-i-dont-go/id974796109

Written By: Marito Lopez

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