Earl Sweatshirt’s sophomore album is a bleak and dark as its title and cover art suggest. While Earl’s 2013 debut Doris was a somber and dark album in large part, it had its share of more upbeat instrumentals and brighter subject matter. I Don’t Like Shit is made up of styles similar to its predecessors bleakest moments, but is even darker. The album’s instrumentals are simple and reserved while Earl’s lyrical content remains incredibly dense and melancholic. While these stylistic choices make for some amazingly honest and sobering songs, the album as a whole rides the line between being far too depressing and being too simple and subdued to be compelling.
The album begins with “Huey”, which features one of the brightest beats on the album, reminiscent of Odd Future’s early style. The track transitions perfectly into the stellar “Mantra”, undoubtedly one of the album’s best tracks. The track sees Earl rapping in a much more aggressive and charismatic manner than usual on top of a simple, yet effective instrumental. However, this track is also the most exciting point on the album, which comes far too soon. The rest of the project takes a decidedly moody and subdued tone. The sleepy third track “Faucet” is undoubtedly relaxing, but is almost too somber to the point where it’s almost boring.
In general, I Don’t Like Shit is utterly depressing, stemming from the album’s dark instrumentals and sad subject matter. Earl’s vocal delivery only furthers these feelings as he either sounds angry or grief stricken. The troubling “Off Top” is particularly dark, featuring distorted drums braced against an eerie piano sample. This makes for a chilling track, but one that is just too sad to warrant further listens. The track “Grief” features a very nocturnal beat and an overall creepy vibe, but it works very well in many ways. Earl begins the track by dissing other rappers, but then discusses his feelings and how his actions and decisions are beginning to catch up with him. The track juxtaposes the ideas of good grief, in which Earl feels that he is far above other rappers in terms of talents, and compares it with the feelings of grief that Earl has been feeling lately because of his decisions. It’s an interesting concept for a song and is executed perfectly.
Fans of Earl’s past music will find enjoyable songs on this project, but the album as a whole is just too sad and too one note to feel genuinely interesting and/or new. Earl has made similar music to this on his past efforts, both in sound and in subject matter, making I Don’t Like Shit feel rather uninteresting in many ways. Still, there is some great content on the album and no truly bad songs, but instead a handful of boring tracks. For Earl fans, its undoubtedly a must listen, but for most, this project isn’t worth the time.
Standout Tracks: “Mantra”, “Grief”, “AM // Radio”