Saturday 28 March 2015

Review of 'I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside' by Earl Sweatshirt

This album title speaks to me. Sadly, Earl’s monotone often sleepy vocal delivery doesn’t. Admittedly, there does seem to be a newfound grit in the Odd Future rapper’s voice on some tracks such as ‘Mantra’. However, there are other points where he gets so lethargic I’m surprised he doesn’t nod off mid-verse (the backend of ‘Grief’ being a prime example).

Fortunately, Earl’s engaging rhymes and oddball imagery have always made up for his lazy flow, and this record sees him continuing this with humorous examples such as ‘fifties in my pocket falling out like fucking baby teeth’. I would have liked to have seen a few more individual song themes on this album, which Earl seems to have sadly scrapped in the pursuit of rawness. In fact, Earl has stripped away a lot of things on this record including the number of guest stars and any signs of a hook. The record is all bars and beats – which will please a few hip hop purists I’m sure. A lot of the songs feel very stream-of-consciousness, Earl rambling whatever depressed thoughts enter his head. It makes the record freer and more intimate, but without any hooks or song themes to tie it all together, it can also feel a bit unfocused and aimless at points, a beat change being the only thing separating one track from the next.

Personally, I think Earl’s last effort Doris had more standout moments, due to the fact that tracks like ‘Sunday’ and ‘Chum’ had individual stories and messages behind them, instead of being a mass of melancholy thoughts. Hooks have never been Earl’s thing, although Doris had a few to give the songs direction such as the ‘Like its nothing cos it’s nothing bitch’ refrain on ‘Hive’.  

Maybe Earl could improve in these areas, although I feel the greater rawness on this record may be where the rapper feels more comfortable. In the end, it’s the self-produced beats that really save this record, and will have me returning. Consisting of lo-fi percussion and melancholy jazzy chord progressions, Earl’s attempt at rawness really pays off here. The atmosphere is beautifully bleak, every instrumental blanketed in grey clouds. No-one does moody quite like the Odd Future crew.