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

“Dirty, grubby, washed out, cynical, morbid.” Still here? Then let’s continue…

Earl SweatshirtEarl Sweatshirt. The grubby alt-rap horrorcore artist and LA based hip hop collective Odd Future member returns to follow up his 2013 debut Doris with this dark and morbid collection. It’s not the kind of thing to go straight to if you’re looking for any kind of pick me up, but that doesn’t make it not worth a dip in to test the waters.

a filthy barrage of dirty, dubby beats

By way of example, opener ‘Huey’ is a satisfyingly monotonous and dirge like ring-around-the-roses, all slumped over, washed out, and slightly dazed. Curiously though, this first track slips into a coda on its outro that has all the hallmarks of old school lounge, like some kind of punchline to an anti-joke. Before we get the chance to catch our breath, we’re headlong into ‘Mantra’, a filthy barrage of dirty, dubby beats. The kick echoes out into a black abyss, with distant, chiming guitar notes that sound as if they have been torn harshly from a spaghetti western theme.

a smokey, fuzzy, vinyl crackled mash of honky tonk pianos and shredded drums

I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside gives absolutely no respite from its doomy depths. ‘Grief’ sees Earl Sweatshirt unloading a huge flow of his trademark rhymes, which serve as a stark reminder of the sheer artistry of Odd Future and its respective members. Without warning, we’re treated once again to the cynical, parping lounge that we first experienced at the end of opening track ‘Huey’. Brilliantly, this leads into ‘Off Top’ – a smokey, fuzzy, vinyl crackled mash of honky tonk pianos and shredded drums, while ‘AM // Radio’ lays down a solid bass line that threatens to make your head explode from over exposure.

There are brief moments of calm to be found – ‘Inside’ puts a trip hop vibe to good use, mixing in a beat that sounds like a breakbeat slowed down to the point where it’s almost reached a standstill. Even here, there’s the sense of dread that runs through all of Sweatshirt’s work, and there’s a maturity that belies his young age which is found in the sheer confidence found here. ‘DNA’ unloads a military style beat with a tight flow in which the words come thick and fast, like bullets from an automatic weapon.

the whole thing is weighty, grimy, a strange mixture of wet and dry

The album’s closing track ‘Wool’ paints a slightly different picture to what has gone before it, mostly due to the presence of guest vocalist Vince Staples. This change in sonic texture actually works very well as a way of bringing the record to its close, by reawakening the listener, giving some fresh sounds, and giving the opportunity to reflect on this somewhat immense skyscraper of an album. To be sure, the whole thing is weighty, grimy, a strange mixture of wet and dry – like the sensation of cold sweat under your clothes on a hot day.

It’s a remarkable sophomore record, and by no means is it any kind of ‘difficult second album’. If this is anything to go by, Earl Sweatshirt is sure to go from strength to strength.

photo: Kim Erlandsen

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