'I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Leave The House: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt'. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? It's probably not going be hashtagged on Twitter any time soon. In an era when album titles come search-engine optimised it certainly seems awkward - detached, even.
And for good reason: 'I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside' represents Earl at his most insular and at his most comfortable. Speaking to NPR at SXSW, Earl Sweatshirt revealed that "this is the first thing that I've said that I fully stand behind... I've never been behind myself this much" - and it's easy to see why.
Earl's 2013 debut 'Doris' was exceptional. However, it was the result of a young artist adjusting to the expectations of his newfound fame. The people demanded an album and Earl delivered in spades, but both Vince Staples' interludes on 'Burgundy' and Earl's closing lines on 'Chum' suggest that this was to the detriment of his creative and personal well-being.
Fast-forward to 'I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside' and Earl appears to be in complete control. Almost entirely self-produced, the lo-fi beats are closer to the signature Odd Future sound that characterised his pre-Samoa output than the comparatively lush production on 'Doris'.
Lyrically, Sweatshirt still treads the perfect line between abrasion and introspection, but his delivery isn't nearly as self-aware. It's a pared-back approach, which could easily be viewed as effortless if it wasn't so evident that this album finds the rapper focusing his trademark sputter on content over delivery.
The album was written amidst the post-break-up debauchery of his Hollywood apartment, and this amps up the agoraphobia which characterises the album. Everything about it feels insular, with Earl's inebriated slur on 'Grief' providing the perfect example: "I'm fleeting thoughts on a leash / For the moment, high as fuck / I've been alone in my shit for the longest."
Earl has always made it perfectly clear that he eschews expectation - who are we to make demands of him "because Daddy was a poet" or disturb his rehabilitation in Samoa as if he "likes attention"? Those expecting the rapper to work with as many artists as he did on 'Doris' in pursuit of a bigger sound will be disappointed: with only four features and one other producer besides himself, 'I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside' sees him head in the opposite direction.
It's clearer now than ever that Earl Sweatshirt doesn't care for your expectations, and that he's at his brilliant best when refusing to cater to them.
Words: Lewis Lister
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