Earl Sweatshirt releases dark and depressing second studio album

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Earl Sweatshirt, the previously missing member of Odd Future, a Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective, released his newest album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, on March 23.

I Don’t Like Shit continues Earl’s no-nonsense approach to music defined in his debut studio album, Doris, but to a further extreme. Compared to his previous works, the cold and depressing feeling of I Don’t Like Shit is a let down. 

With his immense skill, many listeners hoped Earl’s follow-up to Doris would have more energy, passion and aggression and bring diversity and energy to his music. Instead, Earl goes deeper into the darkness with I Don’t Like Shit. The album has none of the necessary compromises Doris has with its occasionally up-beat songs and sometimes hopeful themes. On this record, Earl seeks to please no one; the songs are depressing and extremely antisocial.

The goal of the album appears to be one overarching feeling of claustrophobia. The producers did a great job hitting their mark to create a very specific tone, but the flat and lonely experience leaves more to be desired.

The slow-motion jazz chords and the beats may be simple, but the background tracks have far-too-powerful emotional weight to it. The album is a full-bore, swift knockout of intense sorrow. Samples of children’s screams on “AM // Radio” bring a dark humor into the mix, and the record’s leading single, “Grief,” successfully executes a full takeover of the listener’s emotions.

I Don’t Like Shit is plagued by its up-and-down style. On “AM // Radio,” Wiki, member of the rap group Ratking, spits a few bars and fizzles out, but Earl comes in strong and attacks the track on the second half. This progression represents the record as a whole: About half of the verses seem lethargic, but, in the other half, Earl goes into full-on attack mode. The album is a constant cycle of anticipation and disappointment. Maybe it was a choice he consciously made, but that decision makes for a confusing listen.

At some points, an inattentive listener might think that Earl put no effort into his music. Upon closer inspection, themes of trust are abundant, but the lack of variety gives a misleading impression, making this album anything but a casual listen.

One of the finer aspects of the album is Earl’s lyrical abilities. In most tracks, such as “Off Top” and “Huey,” his words fit together perfectly as a jigsaw puzzle would. On the first track, “Huey,” Earl kicks off with “Foot and hand on the gates / We was jumpin’ em, fuck, I’m like quicksand in my ways / Was always stuck in ‘em, stuck it in until an ambulance came.”

If listening to details of Earl’s depression doesn’t sound like a worthy investment of your time, this album isn’t for you. It will feel tedious and drawn out despite its short length.

I admire how Earl ignored commercial success for a more artistic angle, but an album only works if that style proves to be genius. I Don’t Like Shit trips up too often to be considered anything more than an intriguing prospect and forgettable listen.

Album: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt

Artist: Earl Sweatshirt

Tracks: 10

Rating: 5/10