Arts & Culture

New Album Review: Earl Sweatshirt

SICK! The latest album by LA based rapper Earl Sweatshirt, is a departure from his previous releases. I think this album is one of Earl’s best to date – I think it is not only refreshing in terms of sound but also reveals tremendous personal growth in his life. It was released on January 14, 2022 on his personal label, Tan Cressida. Here are a few of my favorite tracks from this album! 
Track two, 2010, was produced by an up and coming producer Black Noi$e, who is making some of the most refreshing and unique sounding beats in the hip hop compendium. The beat is dynamic and playful and I believe that Earl’s lyrical flow follows the same principle. The song has themes of reflection and the track title is in reference to the year he released his first songs. He also has a new sense of positivity on the songs on this album. I believe this marks a turning point in his career and in his life, especially with the recent birth of his first son. 

This is the cover art for Sick! by the artist Earl Sweatshirt. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Tan Cressida/Warner, or the graphic artist(s).

The next track, Lye, has a bombastic sound to it! The Alchemist uses a triumphant horn sample that is not only celebratory but also sounds incredibly nostalgic and thoughtful. On this track Earl talks about a reconciliation between himself and a higher power. He also makes a clever allusion between the words lye and lie. Lye was used as a way to straighten hair (especially in the African American community).  These words were employed in relation to the idea of lying to oneself and to one’s own identity- just as the lye was used to make people of color look more white and not naturally themselves. Earl talks about finding the “higher power” in himself. 
The following song, Titanic, was again produced by Black Noi$e. It features such a fun and playful beat! It felt like ear candy, especially while listening to it with headphones on. Again he talks about being honest in his expression and expresses how he has grown through his life experiences. Earl makes a clever reference to legendary rapper MF DOOM. He famously wore a mask to conceal his identity. Earl says that he himself is wearing a mask while also using MF DOOM’s real name, Daniel, as a reference to Daniel in the lion’s den. Earl feels like Daniel in his life and has to wear a personal mask that he puts on to protect himself and his identity.    
Overall, there is a sense of clarity and sheen on this album’s sound that is unlike his previous forays into low-fi experimentation. This project features some well needed positivity, and is a departure from Earl’s depiction of depression. A common theme on this was the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has an unusually positive spin on every seemingly sad topic he talks about! A lesson I learned from a few listens of this album is that good times are always around the corner, and ultimately, personal growth and gaining knowledge is essential in having a fulfilling and experienced life.

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