Despite once being known as a high-spirited teenage rap prodigy and regular Loiter Squad cast member, Earl Sweatshirt has transitioned towards a more dark, desolate place on his most recent records. On Some Rap Songs and Feet of Clay, Earl moved away from the commercial spotlight he had enjoyed early on in his career, but also solidified himself as the leader of an emerging sub-genre that lies somewhere between avant-garde and jazz rap. His new album, SICK!, acknowledges the trials detailed in his recent works, and this time, he seems to make peace with his own shortcomings. On the album’s lead single, “2010,” he raps, “And I didn’t look back when I broke soil/’Cause every time I did it would hurt more.” Instead of letting his solitude alienate him, he embraces it as uniqueness that he chooses to celebrate.
SICK! is also an easier listen than his past couple of albums—there is plenty of material for new Earl fans to enjoy. The tracklist shows that even as a rap veteran, he isn’t afraid to continue to try new things. Some tracks feature shadowy, 808-infested beats reminiscent of artists like Chief Keef and Young Nudy. He also samples Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be With You” on “Fire in the Hole”—a sample that many will recognize from Childish Gambino’s “Redbone”. For longtime Earl fans, SICK! embodies Earl’s continuing mastery of his craft. The lyrical themes of this album are a testament to self-discovery and freedom in the wake of depression—themes both fans and newcomers are sure to find captivating.
Ben Merisotis is a freshman in the College studying Political Economy.