At this point in my career, there aren’t many things I hear that truly make me take a moment to sit back and ingest a song without allowing any sort of impedances or distractions to break up my attention. When I first got into hip-hop music, Odd Future was a group that I legitimately couldn’t get enough of, and whether it was the music, their connection as a collective, their antics, or anything else, I found myself not even going a day without listening to their music or watching their videos. I was fully obsessed, to say the least, and while Tyler, Frank, Hodgy, Mike G, and everyone else in the group were constantly blowing my mind, Earl Sweatshirt was someone who I just couldn’t get enough of.
Early on, he was showing exactly how complex and unique his creative process was, but I think the thing that had me addicted was the fact that he did some of the most inventive things in the entire history of music without the bells and whistles, humbly spitting bars that were so intricate that it could take dozens of listens before you fully understood and appreciated a single lyric. As time has gone on, he has become more elusive but also deeper and more profound, so when he releases an album, it is an immediate listen in my book.
It has been years since we received a new solo effort, but this wait is finally coming to an end next week on January 14th when he releases his highly-anticipated album SICK!, and all of the singles he has released leading up to this project have me on the edge of my seat to finally listen to this piece of art. “Tabula Rasa” featuring Armand Hammer and “2010” have been in constant rotation since they dropped, but when I saw that he put out one more single entitled “Titanic”, I didn’t waste a second and went straight to Spotify to listen.
Produced by Black Noi$e, this track boasts a very distinctive and uncharacteristic melody combined with piercing percussive elements and punchy drums that combine for a slightly on-edge, mysterious sound that is compelling all on its own. Things are taken to the next level once Earl comes in, because although he remains fairly even-keeled like usual, there is this undertone of attack behind his delivery that is absolutely fascinating, and I listened to the track literally 5 times in a row just to fully immerse myself into this unforgettable offering.
As he moves on, his friend and counterpart Na-Kel Smith can be heard in the distance offering some ad-libs to hype the iconic rapper up, but Earl makes sure that he is the star of the show, even if the spotlight is something he has never sought out for himself. With SICK! set to release next Friday, we can expect to receive 10 songs with an additional feature from Zelooperz, and when asked about the upcoming project, Earl said:
“SICK! is my humble offering of 10 songs recorded in the wake of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns. Before the virus I had been working on an album I named after a book I used to read with my mother (‘The People Could Fly’). Once the lockdowns hit, people couldn’t fly anymore. A wise man said art imitates life. People were sick. The People were angry and isolated and restless. I leaned into the chaos cause it was apparent that it wasn’t going anywhere. These songs are what happened when I would come up for air. Peace and love to Zelooperz the enigma, The Armand Hammer, and my good friends Alchemist and Black Noi$e. Peace and love to u.”
I think I speak for all fans when I say that I hope this other album he was working on sees the light of day at some point, but even if not, this upcoming album is definitely going to be a spectacle and a thing of beauty, so while we wait, you definitely need to tap in with the brand-new single “Titanic” the next chance you get.