Earl Sweatshirt Album Review - I Don't Like Sh*t, I Don't Go Outside

Barely 21 years old, Earl Sweatshirt has had quite a storied career despite his young age.

Discovered via MySpace in 2009 by the then tastemaking Tyler The Creator, Earl, born Thebe Kgositsile, has gone on to overshadow his mentor with a slew of mix tape releases, his debut full-length Doris and headline-grabbing public persona.

With his verbose delivery and outsider mentality Earl Sweatshirt was a perfect fit for Tyler's crew Odd Future and he had stand-out verses on a variety of OF releases. However, his old-school conservative mother, was not a fan of his early music.

In fact after releasing his debut 2010 mix tape Earl, his mother actually sent him to Coral Reef Academy, a Hawaiian retreat school for at-risk boys. This has to be a first for the rap genre in general.

While at the boys school he cleared his mind, read numerous books and concentrated on writing lyrics. His good behavior allowed him the opportunity to return to Los Angeles where he worked in earnest on Doris, his supposed masterwork.

During this time 2012-2013 Odd Future hit their apex of popularity with Earl appearing on albums by Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis and Tyler The Creator.

In 2013 Doris was released with production work from Pharrel Williams, The Rza and the regular lineup of Odd Future talent. His major label debut satiated most fans by remaining a dark, soul-searching opus despite its well-known collaborators.

For the follow up, the magnificently titled I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt, the label messed up and released the whole album on iTunes early without prior notice to Earl creating a disconnect between Earl and his record label.

The tension was palpable on several angry tweets from Earl the days following the leak.

To be honest, the relationship between Earl and Sony/Columbia seems strange simply because Earl Sweatshirt doesn't create radio-friendly rap music. IDLSIDGO is perhaps the farthest thing from a pop record released on a major label this year.

Compared to Doris, the album is way more insular, darker and twisted.

For a man who was too young to fully appreciate the indie hip hop boom of the late 90's, IDLSIDGO recalls an era where Company Flow's non-commercial sounding Funcrusher Plus and MF Doom's Operation: Doomsday achieved media attention.

Produced mostly by "randomblackdude" Earl's production name, the beats are all notty, weird and quirky mediations. Never a party-starter, the album finds it's down tempo groove and creates a head of steam not unlike late 90s trip hop like Portishead or Tricky.

Random components mingle together and often morph into something complete different by the song's end. Some beats like "DNA" and "Grown Ups" suggest that The Rza's basement honed production style were a huge influence on Earl.

The lyrics have a complexity that his mentor Tyler never achieved. They sound like freestyles while they paint a picture so vivid its hard to believe Earl is so young.

His jaded anger sounds at times like an avant garde version of Eminem's early blame-the-world apathy.

Some of it has an abstract Dada-ism to it that sounds as though some of the sessions were recorded under the influence of extreme psychedelics. Hopefully his mother isn't listening.

While his originality is certainly staggering, as is the fact that he records for a major record label, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside doesn't seem like anything close to a crossover moment. His niche is just that, a niche that will only appeal to a small segment of the community. Most fans of rap and hip hop will simply not be able to relate to its twisted soundscapes and spewing verbiage. There's nothing here to dance to, there are no hooks. There is not even many punchlines to draw the listener in.

But standing out in the crowd is something about Earl that can be applauded for and at the young age of 21, he certainly could have a (odd) future ahead of him. The album certainly rewards repeat listens, but in this era of complete sensory overload many listeners will simply move on before investing in multiple listens.

This is still a very early stage in his development. Stay tuned to his channel. I give I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside by Earl Sweatshirt 3 Empty Lighthouses out of 5.

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