“I’ve never been behind myself this much,” Los Angeles-based rapper, producer, and Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt said about his second LP, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. However, Earl’s confidence is more self-effacing and anti-social than Kendrick Lamar’s self-love anthem “i” or Drake’s grocery list of achievements “Started from the Bottom.” Rather, Earl has found his voice in a dimly lit corner several dimensions away from the spotlight.
The album’s opening track, “Huey,” immediately one-ups the self-doubting lyrical drawl of Earl’s first LP Doris (2013). He’s not here to waste time talking about critics who “pretend to get it”—he’s amping up to spend another day alone, preferring the melancholy of isolation to the overwhelming distractions of the outside world. On “Mantra” and “Faucet,” Earl articulates the logic of his solitary tendencies—his fame has catalyzed countless breakups, turning friends into enemies and enemies into friends. For Earl, the unavoidable ills of relationships only get in the way of more important, more existential matters.
Over the course of the album, Earl’s beats recede deeper into a cavernous darkness. He drenches his snares and hi-hats with the sludgy reverb of an abandoned factory, punctuating their low frequency drone with chopped-up jazz chords and detuned guitars. The album’s aesthetic is best encapsulated in the Hiro Murai-directed video for “Grief,” which borrows its pitch-dark approach from Jonathan Glazer’s arthouse alien film Under the Skin (2013). This is Earl’s world, a collection of bodies isolated from one another by a sea of shadows, and despite its bleakness, he has the lyrical tact to navigate it confidently—but only from the comfort of his home.