Earl Sweatshirt – “Sick!” review

Earl Sweatshirt is a 27 year old MC/producer from Los Angeles, California who began his career in 2008 under the name Sly Tendencies. He posted a handful of tracks for a mixtape called Kitchen Cutlery on MySpace, but the tape would never be released to this day. Then he formed a rap trio with 2 of his friends called The Backpackerz & planned to release a mixtape together by the name of World Playground, but they disbanded sometime in 2009. Shortly after, he joined Odd Future & appeared on their 2nd & final mixtape Radical that May. 10 months later, he put out his only mixtape to date Earl with OF’s de facto leader Tyler, The Creator producing a bulk of it. The tape received a lot of buzz, but Earl’s mother would send him to a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys in Samoa sometime after until February of 2012. He was then granted his own Columbia Records imprint Tan Cressida Records & released his full-length debut Doris in 2013 to critical acclaim for his clever rhyme schemes & the gritty production from those such as The Neptunes & even the RZA. He then formed the duo Hog Slaughta Boyz with OF affiliate Na’kel at the beginning of 2015 & released his sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside a couple months after. Many of which consider to be better than Doris for it’s darker aesthetic. Some Rap Songs not only wound up being my favorite album of 2018, but also the best work of Earl’s career as I look at it as the bastard child of one of my all-time favorites album: Madvillainy. But after dropping a small handful of average SRS leftovers in the form of Feet of Clay the year after through an ongoing Warner Records distribution deal, he’s returning from the shadows with his 4th full-length.

“Old Friend” kicks off the album with a bare orchestral loop from The Alchemist cryptically addressing someone he’s still cool with whereas “2010” has a cloudy trap vibe with the help of Black Noi$e talking about the days when he was hungry. The title track has a more fuzzier tone produced by Navy Blue saying he won’t let the devil in just before ZeelooperZ tags along for the extravagant “Vision”. Meanwhile on “Tabula Rasa”, we have Armand Hammer joining Earl in discussing the blank slate theory on top of some plinky piano chords & a vocal chop just before “Lyre” talks about making it straight over some horns.

“Lobby” gets on some grim trap shit detailing being a superhuman while the song “God Laughs” has a atmospheric yet drumless feel to it talking about searching for his lost halo. The penultimate track “Titanic” is an abstract trap banger showcasing some clever bars such as “Get ghost like I need a killer”, but then “Fire in the Hole” ends the album by working in a guitar talking about how he needed another go.

Given how mid Feet of Clay was, it didn’t really worry me going into Sick! because I knew he was gonna expand on the experimental sounds of Some Rap Songs & that just so happens to be the case here. Another thing that makes the album highly enjoyable for me is him telling the world how he’s been dealing with the pandemic.

Score: 4.5/5