The 2nd album that a rap artist puts out is a pivotal one. Will it be more of the same and if so will we still love it? Has this person matured musically and acquired more skills for their projects? Will it be better or will it be worst than what’s come before it? It is nearly a rite of passage in the ip-hop world and will be used as the measuring stick to place your talents, as well as a forecasting tool for your future. How versatile are you?
At age 21, Earl Sweatshirt, a central member of the infamous Odd Future collective, not only avoids the failure and Sophomore album curse but actually rises above his freshman album Doris. Despite label troubles, he drops I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, earlier than expected in tandem with Action Bronson, Ratking (Wiki, a member of the group is actually featured on a song as well) and Mr. Set Records and Break em, Kendrick Lamar.
Self-produced under the moniker of “randomblackdude”, the album also features Vince Staples: another up and coming rapper who was also featured in several works from Odd Future, Dash from the ASAP Mob, and Na’Kel Smith, a semi-honorary member of Odd Future. The overall feel of the album carries a very maturing atmosphere as he describes his life of late, almost of a cautionary tale of his successes but still conveys the younger more reckless Earl that the world was first introduced to several years back with splashes of religion, heartbreak, his younger days of being secluded and alone, while avoiding becoming a product of his environment and Grief.
The album is short, clocking in at less than 30 minutes, but its length is the only downfall, as it left me wanting much, much more in the end. Very avant garde in its nature almost with an underground flair, with DOOM inspired beats and flows, this album delivers on its production value, EQ-ed to perfection, with musical breaks (a favorite of mine) and various types of sounds and instrumentals. The flow of one song into another is very tranquil, almost as if a story is present and doesn’t short on the signature style, vocabulary, and almost off-the-track flowing that Earl makes so popular.
Picking out favorite tracks is difficult because there are only ten songs and all of them offer something different and feel much better as a collection. ‘AM// Radio’ featuring Wiki from Ratking, the single (which includes a very trippy music video) ‘Grief’, ‘Mantra’ with its storytelling like structure, and the very brief but still golden ‘Off Top’ do their best to stand above the rest however. I couldn’t find one track that was weak or unneeded as I said before, I enjoyed them all. Besides Frank Ocean, (as we now impatiently awaits his next album) Earl Sweatshirt is without doubt the most multifaceted member of the Odd Future collective and this album makes another welcome addition to his ever-expanding story of success as he continues to make his path using his own unique style.