Release Date: Mar 23, 2015
Record label: Sony Music Entertainment
The ever-shifting sands of rap album release schedules can’t conceal a real event. For all its botched marketplace delivery, this pithily captivating and ruthlessly introspective third (if you count his debut mixtape) full-length epistle from the twisted mind of still-only-21-year-old west coast microphone tyro Sweatshirt is no less of a hip-hop landmark than higher-profile recent communiques from Drake and Kendrick Lamar. From Huey’s deceptively jaunty lounge organ to the ominous piano which haunts Off Top, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile (as his mum knows him) has as intuitive a grasp of how to punctuate a thought process with musical trigger points as any rapper in history.
Aptly titled with the off-putting I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, Earl Sweatshirt's sophomore effort is a crushing confessional that refuses to get off the couch, even if it's beautiful outside. "I ain't been outside for a minute, I've been livin' what I wrote" the Odd Future MC snaps on "Guilt," but then again, why bother as adoring fans ("They the reason that the paper in your trousers thick”) can't help Earl with the recent death of a family member (his grandmother) and entering your twenties jaded about drugs (there's a love/hate relationship with Xanax and/or weed that pops up here and there) must be rough. Being a teen exiled to Samoa didn't help much either as the excellent "Faucet" shrugs off his "Free Earl" era with "Before I did that shit that earned me a term on that island," but the man never comes off as misguidedly privileged or resistant to advice, he just feels like a cog in the machine, grist for the mill.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. My introduction to the work of gifted Los Angeles rapper-producer Earl Sweatshirt (birth name: Thebe Neruda Kgositsile) was AG Rojas' video for 'Earl', the titular song from his 2010 mixtape. In the video, a sixteen-year-old Earl and members of the extended Odd Future collective blend up a drug smoothie and consume it.
Earl Sweatshirt made a fairly morose first impression. The 21-year-old member of rap collective Odd Future dragged listeners into a lyrically grotesque world on his self-titled 2010 mixtape, then went for more personal musings on his 2013 major-label debut, Doris. He sticks to similarly introspective territory on this followup: his molasses-thick vocals roll through tongue-twisting wordplay, battling to be heard over his disjointed, bass-heavy beats.
Upon his release from a brief stint at an overseas school for at-risk youth in 2012, Earl Sweatshirt returned to his Odd Future collective and was swiftly launched into fame with his 2013 debut album, Doris. The album's shock raps and lewd content prompted a cult following, but it was one to which Earl never seemed fit to lead, mostly because he didn't seem to want to. Fast-forward to 2015: Earl Sweatshirt announced the release of his latest album, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, just a week before its release.
Earl Sweatshirt has always been misunderstood. When Earl was 16, Odd Future’s Tumblr uploaded his self-titled debut Earl, which advertised his vile lyricism on rape, cocaine and violence. It was unheard of from a rapper his age, but he quickly gained worldwide praise for channeling shock raps with technical poise and eloquence. A few months after Earl dropped, the teenage prodigy was sent off to Coral Reef Academy in Samoa by his mother.
Thebe Kgositsile, better known by his stage name Earl Sweatshirt, first came on the hip-hop scene as the kind of prodigy no parent would ever want their child to be. The teenage rapper’s lyrics depicting rape, cannibalism, and all manner of deviant behaviour are invariably delivered with a deliberate flow that makes sure no lyrical transgression goes unnoticed. Although rumours that his mother had sent him to a boarding school in Samoa after she heard the songs he was making ultimately proved to be false, the myriad grotesqueries of his early releases made the story incredibly believable.
In an interview with Clash Magazine following the release of Doris, Earl Sweatshirt said: "I’m starting to sound like myself again. Doris is cool, but you can hear the doubt in my voice." The remark played into the narrative surrounding the album: that it was a document of re-acclimating to the world after a year lost to boarding school, of trying to figure out (amongst a sudden rush of newfound attention and worldly temptations) what kind of music the still-teenage rapper was really interested in making. Nonetheless, "doubt" seemed a curious way of describing the actual music on Doris.
Review Summary: Earl steps out of Tyler's shadow to find the outside world ain't all that sunny either.No longer just Tyler's prodigy, Earl Sweatshirt is stepping out of Odd Future's shadow to find the outside world ain't all that sunny either. But that suits him fine. As he says, he don't go outside, and in the darkest corners of the urban jungle Earl's production festers to reveal the frayed wires and rotting skin of a boy who's been pretending.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside begins with chipper organ chords and Earl Sweatshirt’s shadowed words: “I’m like quicksand in my ways.” Like that, he’s off. His girlfriend says pot’s taking the soul from him, the clique nature of Odd Future exhausts him, the press is pounding at his door for a feature. Earl is overwhelmed. Toasting an empty room with a glass of white wine and Colt 45, he’s slumped on the couch, missing his grandmother, missing his friends, and missing what it’s like to actually care.
On Earl, his 2010 mixtape, Earl Sweatshirt introduced himself as a prodigious talent with a predilection for assonance and a gleefully puerile sense of humor that tested the boundaries of good taste. But time in a Samoan reform school reined in his more antagonistic tendencies, and when the celebrated recluse rejoined shock-rap collective Odd Future, it was clear he'd outgrown his peers. Earl's 2013 debut studio album, Doris, focused more on haze-scented navel-gazing than the chest-thumping defiance that had become Odd Future's stock in trade.
On his first studio album, 2013's Doris, the most mysterious member of L.A. shock-rap gremlins Odd Future proved himself by exploring real-life alienation. On his excellent second LP, Earl Sweatshirt keeps deepening his game — spooling out dense, mordant rhymes over zombifically blunted tracks as he somehow sucks you into his sunless reality. It's amazing that music so claustrophobic can be this engrossing.
Odd to recall, looking back, how Odd Future were greeted as potential wreckers of civilisation on their arrival in 2010. They didn’t, as it happens, rape and pillage hip-hop and dance around in the ashes. Instead, Frank Ocean came out, Tyler, The Creator made a couple of long and rather emo albums about his troubled mental state and absent father, and the collective have tended towards introspective hip-hoprapped over chill, stoned beats.No one typifies this more than Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, aka Earl Sweatshirt.
Since the 2010 video for “Earl” introduced a majority of us to the Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (Fun fact: May 26 marks five years since the video was first uploaded to Vimeo. Feel old yet?) via an unsettling and borderline disgusting (yet still strangely charismatic) simulated drug binge, rap fans have been checking for Earl Sweatshirt. His verbal dexterity impressed the stick-in-the-mud lyrical purists, and the combination of skater punk ethos and instant controversy around OF and anyone remotely associated with it propelled him to the front of people’s interests.
Spawned by a poet/activist and a civil rights-minded law professor, and mentored by riot-inciting Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt finally reconciles those influences and the voices inside his own head on sophomore effort I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside. At peak high and mid-puff, "Huey" sparks a mad stream of consciousness. "I'm toasted as hell," he admits.
opinion by SAMUEL TOLZMANN < @scatlint > Odd Future’s gaggle of post-Eminem MCs can sometimes feel like raging ids locked in ugly competition. However, although Earl Sweatshirt’s work on third full-length I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside can sometimes read as less urgently feral or technically accomplished than that of the collective’s de facto ringleader Tyler, The Creator or Earl’s own past releases (the rapping here is about half the speed, on average, of the flow heard on Doris), the more time spent with the record, the clearer it becomes that the MC is simply confident. I Don’t Like Shit moves at a stroll not because it’s lazy but because its creator knows exactly what he’s doing, such that there’s no need to show off.
In 2013 it seemed as if just about the only person not buying into the Earl Sweatshirt myth was Earl himself. The prodigal young rapper had just reemerged from his mysterious disappearance—turns out he’d been sent to a school for at-risk boys in Samoa—and the music press was eagerly scouring his every verse, appearance, and casual comment for clues into what shape his first official album might take. They anticipated nothing short of a masterpiece, and Earl responded with, well, something less than one.
While Tyler, the Creator is the obvious nucleus of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt has always been its most compelling member due to his mysterious disappearance at the beginning of the group's rise and his embodiment of what's become a common rap conceit of late: young musician whose rabid fan base has left him appreciative of what's he's been given but also weary of the adulation. On his uneven first album, Doris, Earl Sweatshirt took his preternaturally gifted lyricism to a deep emotional level. Here, he ratchets that up another notch, attacking familiar concepts (wantonly commercial rappers, his complicated relationship with his mother, the push and pull of celebrity) with seasoned vigour.
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 prohibited the sale of alcohol in America to anyone under the age of 21. The reality of the situation is that most states do permit consumption of booze prior to that legal limit, under certain conditions, but for the average kid after the stateside equivalent of a dirty bottle of 20/20, that's a long time to be asking strangers to take ten bucks into the 7-Eleven to deliver the Friday night fun-times. No wonder street-beating and stay-home teens alike turn their heads to alternative means of intoxication.
Earl Sweatshirt’s young career has been largely enigmatic. After bursting onto the scene in 2010 as the most lyrically gifted of the cartoonish Odd Future crew, he dropped his odiously raw Earl mixtape and then disappeared, with only “Free Earl” chants left in his wake at OF shows. Shortly after his arrival back home, he released his highly anticipated debut album, Doris.
Can you imagine the mindset of Nasir following up Illmatic? Wu-Tang after 36 Chambers? Snoop after Doggystyle? It has to be a psychological battle against hype, one that Earl Sweatshirt has struggled with since returning from Samoa. He returned to a reality where Thebe Kgositsile was overshadowed by the giant of a critically acclaimed album that he created at the age of 16. He went from complaining about blogs to being hunted down by a Complex journalist.
Quietly but consciously over the past two years, Earl Sweatshirt has been removing himself from the prescription-pill, protein-shake-swilling shock rap that identified him as the deranged teenage rap prodigy at the heart of Los Angeles outfit Odd Future. If solely because of the two years he was shipped by his mother to a boarding school in Samoa while the group was making its ascension, he always seemed to be in his own world. But where his debut album, “Doris,” seemed like a re-assimilation, his follow-up, “I Don’t Like [Expletive], I Don’t Go Outside,” is a declaration of his own distancing.
Earl Sweatshirt’s in a foul mood. He's lethargic and maybe even a little agoraphobic. To paraphrase the title of his cuss-dotted new album, he doesn’t like [anything] and he doesn’t go outside. If he’s to be believed throughout the record, the rapper and producer born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile has mostly been dealing with a breakup, smoking weed, fighting with Xanax and lying real, real low.
Earl’s darker side always came off way more authentic than that of his Odd Future affiliates - more psychological, more vividly dysfunctional. On this latest album Earl’s at his bleak, misanthropic best. He’s switched the playful folkloric wit - always vaguely reminiscent of DOOM - that lent his last album Doris an element of almost comic book villainy - dark, yes, but just a costume, just wicked fables - for a more raw, internalised rap style, bristling with grim autobiographical detail.
Another week, another highly touted Los Angeles rap dissenter. When the spotlight landed on Earl Sweatshirt a couple of years ago, it seared him. A member of the Odd Future band of scallywags and skate rats, he’d been shipped off by his mother just before the mania surrounding the crew peaked. He returned a star, but a newbie on the inside.