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Earl Sweatshirt's ‘SICK!’ Is A Master Class Of Scatter-Brained Lyricism

For his fourth major release, Sweatshirt invites us to his wormhole of syrupy, soul-focused beats and dense subject matter.


Earl Sweatshirt is the anti-rapper. The 27-year-old wordsmith doesn’t step up to the mic to spit bars about candy painted whips and your atypical rapper diction. Sweatshirt’s music is often cold: engulfed in glass-constructed emotions, self-deprecating verses and weathered soundscapes.


In a structural contrast to his 2018 LP Some Rap Songs, SICK! is home to meatier tracks and a larger musical scope. In terms of production, the emcee swaps out Rap Songs' predominantly self-produced, distorted whirlpool for a wider-ranging beat selection.


For SICK!, Sweatshirt taps super-producer The Alchemist—who drops albums like the government releases Covid-19 booster jabs—as well as Samiyam, Black Noi$e, Rob Chambers, Alexander Spit, Theravada and Ancestors for the record’s trim, ten-track and 24-minute offering.


A worthy mention amongst the album’s many gems is the Armand Hammer-assisted ‘Tabula Rasa’. Backed by a warm, looped soul sample that plays like a broken record in a seedy 1970s jazz club, Sweatshirt and the featured NY rap duo bless the track with grit-laced, heady sonnets of wisdom.


Equally, the track ‘Titanic’ sees Sweatshirt reflect upon his temporary forced retirement and separation from his then-group Odd Future in 2011, enforced by his mother over the trap-adjacent beat. Album closer ‘Fire In The Hole’ is a jazzy, welcome ending the project, featuring a singular verse, the track cascades into a downtempo piano solo before fading out.


Overall, SICK! is another solid body of work from the California-based rapper. The album again sees Sweatshirt morph and mould song templates to his own accord, trading in lengthy, lush artistic statements for candid, coded and jazz-inspired detours—a great start for rap in 2022.


8/10


What do you think of SICK!? Let us know in the comments below.



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