Earl Sweatshirt surprised fans by releasing an album last week titled “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside.” Sweatshirt’s new album has a low-energy feel with dense lyrics and dark beats. This album speaks to his older style and reflects the classic Sweatshirt that his tried and true fans have come to expect. Sweatshirt does best with his quiet demeanor and lyrically powerful verses, sporting alternative beats and a fresh and honest background. This new album brings back the Earl Sweatshirt of old, and the one we love. He has cut the theatrics and the accessories, letting his message stand alone and speak for itself. Fans and reviewers of “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside” repeat the same phrase: He’s doing “more with less.”
Those of us who have been listening to Sweatshirt for years hear his common theme reverberating in this new album—we fear time passing, and we don’t want to grow up at all. We don’t like going outside. We are tired. We are humble. We are outcasts. This expression of realistic fears and worries places him next to his listeners and makes a community out of his music. Even the title of his album speaks bluntly and avoids any flashy or alluring tricks; Sweatshirt simply wants to extend his ideas to those of us who won’t grow up, and who don’t want to conform to what we see outside.
One of this album’s best tracks, “Grown Ups feat. Dash,” provides us with his classic aesthetic—fear and uncertainty for what’s new. For those of us who have been listening Sweatshirt all along, he has provided us with a new and improved sequel. This album feels like a more genuine version of Sweatshirt’s very first mixtape. For those who are new to Sweatshirt’s aesthetic, this album sums him up. In an interview with Caitlin Carter of NPR, Sweatshirt said, “I feel like this is my first album. This is the first thing that I’ve said that I fully stand behind, like the good and the bad of it. Because it’s just—I’ve never been this transparent with myself or with music. I’ve never been behind myself this much.”
The first track on the album, “Huey,” sets the tone for the entire album. Although it begins with a lighter feel, you can hear the honest, unembellished tone. It has none of the added effects of typical radio rap. From the start, you can hear that Sweatshirt is back with his typical style. He is “jotting down quick” the idea for the song, as he can’t focus with the grief he feels about his grandmother and the drugs in his system. He acknowledges that “critics pretend to get it.” The track is short, and before much time we transition into the pith of the album.
“Grown Ups” has a trap-style beat backing it, with a slow verse to match. His verses talk about his home life and his unsteady faith in God. The chorus begins with the phrase “Don’t know where I’m going/ Don’t know where I been.” The song mimics the feeling of confusion, anger and resentment that Earl is trying to express. His feature with Dash adds a forceful dynamic to the album.
“Grief” is one of his most honest and vulnerable songs. It weaves the story of his grief and how he tries to cope with the difficulties in his life. In his verses, he twists his words poetically, with lines such as “I don’t act hard/ I’m a hard act to follow.” His entire persona shows in this track, asking to be evaluated at face value. The slow, relaxed feel gives off a carefree vibe and is entirely unapologetic.
Sweatshirt’s album may not have the extra effects which go into music nowadays, but his message is certainly stronger for it. His last album “Doris” simply didn’t reflect his true style. Sweatshirt admits that it lacked sincerity compared to this new album. In the midst of a death in the family, recovering from drug addiction and pushing through on his music despite conflicts with hip hop collective Odd Future, Sweatshirt has come through with one of his best albums yet, breaking through today’s typical hip hop content and aesthetic and creating an authentic product.
Kendrick Lamar’s new album “To Pimp a Butterfly” has generated enormous hype, and has been deemed a game-changer, a masterpiece and revolutionary. New albums emerging are under pressure to pioneer a new genre or begin a radical new movement in the music industry. Despite all these pressures to “innovate,” Sweatshirt has remained true to his style and has worked to reflect his authenticity. Sweatshirt’s new album is a refreshing departure from hip hop’s current avant-garde obsession. He often expresses his hatred for modern journalism and modern reviews of new music, which mimic a “book report” style, thoughtlessly praising any new music that gets produced by any big name.
“I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside” has received an underwhelming amount of attention and support. This album, unlike many albums released without warning in the last few years, does not rely on the “surprise factor” for its success. Instead, this album is purely content, letting Sweatshirt’s genuine and low-key style shine through. Despite his shaky relationship with Odd Future, Sweatshirt has produced a great work that will reflect well on the entire group. This album is a must-listen for anyone who cherishes old style rap and a genuine message.