The first thing to be said about Earl Sweatshirt’s new album is that it’s by no means an easy listen. Then again, it isn’t meant to be. It’s not written for the consumer. It’s not written for the reviewer. It’s written for him. The recent Lil Chris tragedy has cast the spotlight firmly on the difficulties of young fame, especially in the music industry, and it’s clearly a running theme in Earl’s latest offering. To put it in perspective, Earl is world-famous and the age of a finalist. While you’ve been grappling with Spenser, he’s spent the last few years of his life grappling with fame, fortune and everything that goes with it. Considering he cancelled tour dates last year, it’s hard not to associate the album’s content, and title, with the struggles he’s had with exhaustion, both emotional and physical.
On the first track, ‘Huey’, Earl is already talking about drugs and the effects they’ve had, “And my bitch say the spliff take the soul from me.” The album continues in this vain, with Earl refusing to shy away from the big issues. In ‘Off Top’, he talks about racism in his childhood, “Raised up where every mouth that speak the truth get taped shut/ Peep the evening news, my nigga, we don’t do the same stuff.” While his lyrics are introspective, the backing sounds on the album feature the laconic beats and off-point synths clashing chords that we’ve come to expect from Odd Future, yet even murkier and more blurred.
In the lead track, ‘Grief’, Earl doesn’t trust anybody, “All I see is snakes in the eyes of these niggas,” and you get the impression that in writing this album he was dragging himself out of a hole. It’s an album that might get over-looked with the release of To Pimp A Butterfly, but the emotional and artistic depth of I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside definitely make it worth a listen.