This new album is wonderfully sad
“Yeah, I think I spent most my life depressed.” There is maybe no line that defines Earl Sweatshirt to me as well as this one does. Earl, born Thebe Kgositsile, has been one of the most talented rappers in the world since he came onto the scene at the incredible young age of 16. He struggled, publicly, with the publicity and expectations that come from being a young star.
So, in response, Earl kept out of the spotlight. He stayed inside. He didn’t like things very much. Three years removed from his last album, Earl shows that much hasn’t changed, while at the same time much has.
Over the course of 24 minutes, Earl packs in three years-worth of experiences and commentary in a way very few, if any others could. Opening the album with a song dedicated to catching up, he explores what has happened to him in a way he describes as imprecise. He does this because he claims words cannot hold a candle to how he feels about the moments, and it shows. The things he gets into are extremely heavy. Much of the album follows this theme, as songs like “December 24” highlight how bad things can get for Earl mentally do to his lifestyle and his clinical depression.
“Family” plays a large role in Earl’s life, as this album was intended to be a way of reconciling with his father. Sadly, his father never heard it, as he died earlier this year. This caused tracks to change immensely, reflected in the heavier and less optimistic attitude portrayed here. He also raps about his mother, who he has clashed with in the past. Now that they see each other more eye to eye, he ponders here whether or not his rebellious attitude was at all justified in his youth.
“But I’m buggin’, I’ve been spending more money than I’m making/Stuck in Trumpland, watching subtlety decayin’/I ain’t touch a xan, when it-When it’s time to put my burnt body in a case/Tell my momma I said thank you/Tryna state facts, I’m tryna get through the day”.
The later tracks dive even deeper into the Earl’s perspective on the world outside and it is showcased best by this refrain off of Veins. Earl defines himself as one of the voices of our generation in this album with his superb and emotional line writing.
In addition to all of this, Earl flexes his producing muscles on this album, as nearly every track is self-produced. The production showcased utilizes the atmosphere and emotional state earl gives off to great effect.
If I were to say anything about this album, it is I wish I didn’t have it. While it is amazing and unbelievable honest, it also makes me sad because Earl deserves to be happy for once. The fact that this album maybe more depressing, and his last was titled “I don’t like sh*t, I dont go outside” speaks for itself. I hope Earl makes more music, but first he needs to get his head right. I can wait as long as it takes.
Feature photo courtesy of Houston Press.