Odd Future are kind of a big deal right now. Well I say right now, they’ve been around since 2007 and since then haven’t really faded away. Whether it’s their fashion label, their TV show on Adult Swim Loiter Squad or even their own radio station, which you can find on the Dash Radio app, Odd Future are arguably the Wu Tang Clan of the 21st Century. However, the reason people who love the controversial hip hop collective group isn’t for their socks but for their music. There’s the multi personality ring leader Tyler The Creator who’ll be visiting Scotland in May to fuck up the Barrowlands. In addition there’s also the critically praised Frank Ocean who is probably on the CIA’s most wanted list now since he’s not released a new album since 2012’s Channel Orange. And then there’s Earl Sweatshirt.
Earl’s career hasn’t exactly been smooth by any means. After releasing his eponymous mix-tape, it seemed like he’d just disappeared off the face of the earth. It was revealed that he had actually been sent to a boarding school in Samoa by his mum who was disapproving of his music which referenced rape and murder to an excessive level. Even when he arrived back in 2012 and released his debut album Doris, he was still facing difficulties. Not only did his grandmother die during the making of Doris but since then he had split up with girlfriend Mallory Llewellyn as well as struggling with drug problems. With I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Earl sounds affected by all of these issues but simultaneously more confident in what he’s doing.
And so he should.
It’s no surprise that an album with such a troubled release would explore some negative themes.After listening to the first few tracks you can tell this album is different to anything Odd Future has released so far. There have always been tracks by various members about heartache and demons but usually the majority of the albums those tracks feature on are a bit more upbeat. With IDLSIDGO though, that’s not the case. On leading single Grief Earl speaks about the clarity he received after the release of Doris, being made aware of the people who only wanted to associate with him for the money and fame, “All I see is snakes in the eyes of these niggas”, an issue many rappers face after making it big. While Grief might focus on this new found fame, tracks like Mantra touch on his aforementioned relationship with Llewellyn, saying that “my absence of fucks was a problem that we ain’t never got to really solve” and how the trust just started to disappear over time.
His use of cannabis is also something that’s mentioned repeatedly during Earl’s sophmore album which is, in contrast to how Tyler The Creator portrays it, slightly more negative. Take Faucet for example where Earl talks about the ash on his face being the trace of him, which can be interpreted as being the bits of him that he’s losing to his chronic drug use or it’s just the literal ash he leaves after smoking. In a genre that constantly glorifies weed while exploring the negatives, it’s refreshing to hear something like this that can appeal to both sides of the legalise debate.
There’s very few things that I can complain about on this album. Could I say I want Earl to return to that style he had back in his mix-tape days? I could but at the same time I don’t want that. What Earl is showing on this album is the difficulties in his day to day life, something that we all face, whether it’s a bitter break up or not knowing the real you. The only minor grip I have with this album is maybe the absence of a Tyler track though that might be the bit of me that still hasn’t come to terms with EarlWolf not being a real thing.
2015 has been an amazing year for music, especially Hip Hop music. This year already we’ve had the highly anticipated follow up to Good Kid, m.A.A.d City from Kendrick Lamar as well as Death Grip’s Jenny Death, the album that many thought would never actually be released.We’re only in March and we’ve still got Drake and Kanye’s new albums later this year to get excited about. Earl can sit back rest assured that despite all the big name acts that might be surrounding him that he’s definitely proved his worth on this album.
You can buy I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside on iTunes and get Earl’s debut mixtape for free here.