Earl Sweatshirt Is Gearing Up To Release His Magnum Opus Album
Thebe Kgositsile also known as Earl Sweatshirt is one of hip-hop’s most unique figures. Since his entry to the spotlight, his work and story has consistently polarised, progressed and pushed the boundaries of the contemporary art that is rapping. What’s resulted is a rampant fan base, cultivated by his pulsating ability to evoke over minimal rap beats.
Since the beginning of his career, or effectively his adult life he has lived in the spotlight as a part of the uncompromising Odd Future. While the group became internet sensations, Kgositsile was forced into his own learning in a rehabilitative centre in Samoa, sent there by his mother Cheryl Harris. While he was away, his cult of personality brewed as he was hailed as a once in a generation sensation with the weight of the world on his shoulders, he wasn’t able to have a say.
After his eventual return from isolation, Earl slowly transitioned from a rebellious, loud and angsty adolescent to the introspective, philosophical character that he has become known for today. Since then, only seemingly in the past 5 years has Earl Sweatshirt been in total creative control of their career, both from a sonic point of view, but also evolving away from the Odd Future collective and the external pressures surrounding it.
Now after three studio albums, and 12 years on from entering the rap limelight, Earl Sweatshirt is gearing up to release SICK! seemingly his magnum opus work. The project reflects on the previous decade, gearing towards a sense of identity finding. From acknowledging and evolving through grief, darkness, depression and addiction, SICK! will see Earl Sweatshirt become himself, dividing his external trauma into a human puzzle of musical vignettes.
The albums release cycle began with ‘2010’, a Black Noi$e produced synth and electronic led rapid rap track. With it, his words are clearer, more powerful, thought out and more hopeful than anything his released in the past. It channels his previous pen bravado, with a more wholistic reflective tone, as he remembers memories of his mother listening to Mary J. Blige or times spent at Temple University.
Then followed ‘Tabula Rasa’, a jazzy, “Earl Sweatshirt” type beat track. Produced by Theravada and Rob Chambers, the track is an extended, posse slow burner, which sees the duo combine with Earl Sweatshirt’s heartfelt lyrics over a chopped soul sample. The track and the rest of the album was recorded throughout the pandemic and saw Sweatshirt lean heavily into his musical bag to escape the chaos of the world.
“People were sick. The People were angry and isolated and restless. I leaned into the chaos cause it was apparent that it wasn’t going anywhere. these songs are what happened when I would come up for air. Peace and love to Zelooperz the enigma, The Armand Hammer, and my good friends Alchemist and Black Noi$e. Peace and love to u,” he stated.
Then followed the boisterous ‘Titanic’ with guest vocals from Na-Kel Smith. Its a short sharp and also Black Noi$e produced glitchy slammer. The track features no hook, or no commercial elements to that matter.
With the singles and SICK!, Kgositsile is no longer drowning in his own thoughts, grief or reflection, rather seeing the world through his own clear eyes.
Earl Sweatshirt’s SICK! releases this Friday, the 14th of January.
Words by Parry Tritsiniotis