Odd Future

Earl Sweatshirt, the previously missing member of Odd Future, a Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective, released his newest album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, on March 23.

I Don’t Like Shit continues Earl’s no-nonsense approach to music defined in his debut studio album, Doris, but to a further extreme. Compared to his previous works, the cold and depressing feeling of I Don’t Like Shit is a let down. 

With his immense skill, many listeners hoped Earl’s follow-up to Doris would have more energy, passion and aggression and bring diversity and energy to his music. Instead, Earl goes deeper into the darkness with I Don’t Like Shit. The album has none of the necessary compromises Doris has with its occasionally up-beat songs and sometimes hopeful themes. On this record, Earl seeks to please no one; the songs are depressing and extremely antisocial.

The goal of the album appears to be one overarching feeling of claustrophobia. The producers did a great job hitting their mark to create a very specific tone, but the flat and lonely experience leaves more to be desired.

The slow-motion jazz chords and the beats may be simple, but the background tracks have far-too-powerful emotional weight to it. The album is a full-bore, swift knockout of intense sorrow. Samples of children’s screams on “AM // Radio” bring a dark humor into the mix, and the record’s leading single, “Grief,” successfully executes a full takeover of the listener’s emotions.

I Don’t Like Shit is plagued by its up-and-down style. On “AM // Radio,” Wiki, member of the rap group Ratking, spits a few bars and fizzles out, but Earl comes in strong and attacks the track on the second half. This progression represents the record as a whole: About half of the verses seem lethargic, but, in the other half, Earl goes into full-on attack mode. The album is a constant cycle of anticipation and disappointment. Maybe it was a choice he consciously made, but that decision makes for a confusing listen.

At some points, an inattentive listener might think that Earl put no effort into his music. Upon closer inspection, themes of trust are abundant, but the lack of variety gives a misleading impression, making this album anything but a casual listen.

One of the finer aspects of the album is Earl’s lyrical abilities. In most tracks, such as “Off Top” and “Huey,” his words fit together perfectly as a jigsaw puzzle would. On the first track, “Huey,” Earl kicks off with “Foot and hand on the gates / We was jumpin’ em, fuck, I’m like quicksand in my ways / Was always stuck in ‘em, stuck it in until an ambulance came.”

If listening to details of Earl’s depression doesn’t sound like a worthy investment of your time, this album isn’t for you. It will feel tedious and drawn out despite its short length.

I admire how Earl ignored commercial success for a more artistic angle, but an album only works if that style proves to be genius. I Don’t Like Shit trips up too often to be considered anything more than an intriguing prospect and forgettable listen.

Album: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt

Artist: Earl Sweatshirt

Tracks: 10

Rating: 5/10

Review

Of the next generation of heavily associated hip-hop stoner acts, Odd Future’s Domo Genesis definitely sits at the top the field. Domo’s peers in the field, Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa, have either created an awkward sound inaccessible to many hip-hop aficionados, let alone fans, or have sold out on the most disgusting level (e.g., Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers, a disgusting mess of unclever verses with pop hooks placed on top of stale beats, in an obvious attempt to gain radio play).

On his new mixtape, Under The Influence, Domo has made a number of stylistic changes that distance his sound from his Odd Future counterparts, but he has made no movement towards compromising his beliefs for the sake of success. This is particularly noteworthy, given that of the entire Odd Future group, Domo Genesis made the most drastic changes in terms of appearance after the collective’s rise to prominence. Generally, when artists make a move toward achieving higher status and become image conscious, their art suffers.

Ditching the sleepy stoner look that made him falsely appear to be one of the laziest and least valuable of the bunch, Domo has transitioned into a chic, Kanye West-like character who is more emblematic of Northeast eccentricities than of a stoner skater from Ladera, Calif. Lyrically, he makes this clear, not embracing his elevated status but instead recognizing its inherent faults and laying waste to them. On his song, “Whole City Behind Us,” he spits, “Live from a city of jealous-ass n**gers and bougie-ass bitches, where you ain’t getting love unless swimmin’ mad riches.”

Under The Influence carries an essence more characteristic of Domo Genesis, whereas his first record, Rolling Papers, carried huge Tyler, The Creator influences, both in terms of flow and instrumentals. Under The Influence doesn’t carry the wispy, warped Neptunes-inspired beats characteristic of Tyler. If anything, the mixtape is more reminiscent of classic rap than anything from Odd Future, outside of Mike G’s “Ali.” According to The Los Angeles Times, he’s a fan of Slick Rick and uses Scarface and Mobb Deep beats on Under The Influence.

Aside from that, the mixtape is still very Odd Future; occasional verses pop up throughout the record about doing horrible things to women or just people in general. These things are all described in a fair amount of detail, layered on with the finest expletives the west coast’s most prominent rapper can conjure.

Despite lacking artist features (Tyler is the only Odd Future member that raps on the record besides Domo) and the overall lack of originality, Under The Influence is a solid piece of work. Domo Genesis has proven his technical ability and hopefully his next work will illustrate the fulfillment of his potential as a visionary.

Printed on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 as: Domo Genesis changes style, gets away from Odd Future Domo Genesis - Under The Influence [Mixtape] by sperry_itsthebino