5 things you don’t know about Earl Sweatshirt’s “I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside”

The year is 2010. Rapper Earl Sweatshirt, born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, is just an adolescent –  but that’s not stopping his music video “Earl” from racking in millions of views from across the globe.

Viewers are not sure how to process the video, however. There is something intriguing about the way the lanky, chubby-cheeked youngster effortlessly rhymes words while he and his posse delve into delinquent adventures through the streets of Los Angeles.

His monotone voice carefully articulates each and every word as visuals illustrate over-the-top teenage deviance such as downing a blended concoction of Olde English, cough syrup, and buds of marijuana.

That same year Sweatshirt released a free, self-titled mixtape called Earl  that featured rhymes of misogyny and violence. The shock factor of the lyrics in combination with his clever wordplay resulted in Sweatshirt drawing comparisons to Eminem while his posse drew comparisons to the Wu-Tang Clan.

Just as a cult following began to emerge around him and his crew, Sweatshirt disappeared from the works of the up-and-coming and controversial rap group Odd Future – a collection of music making teenagers from Los Angeles who were becoming known for their ingenious level of creativeness and stirring up controversy through on-stage antics and X-rated lyrics.

Rap-craving fans across the internet developed a “Free Earl” movement, which only added to the mystery and enthrallment of the scrawny rap prodigy.

It was later reported that Sweatshirt’s mother had sent him to a retreat camp in Samoa for at-risk teenagers called Coral Reef Academy.

When he returned to Los Angeles, he clearly needed to adjust to his new reality – fans yearned to hear more music from the Odd Future member who had been mysteriously missing from the group and had risen to fame in the previous two years.

Fast forward to today and the 22-year-old Earl will tell you that lyrics surrounding murder, serial killers, and misogyny are no longer of interest to him. In 2013 interview with GQ Magazine, Sweatshirt discusses his work with sexual assault victims during his time at Coral Reef Academy in Samoa.

“Yeah, so you get to see that side of the fence…that fully draws the line, where it’s like you can stand on either side. Either you’re a fool that is down with f****d up s**t – I mean, I’m a fan of macabre s**t, you know what I’m saying? But not like that. At the end of the day, I’m not some evil guy,” says Sweatshirt.

His most recent release, I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside has received critical acclaim for its sincere, introspective honesty.

It is a brutally honest collection of bits and pieces of who Earl Sweatshirt is as a person – each song seemingly giving the listener an inside glimpse into a moment of Earl’s life.

A ghostly, melancholy theme seems to steadily run through the album from Sweatshirt’s eerie production to his monotone recollections of his grandmother’s death, changing friends, and the accompanying themes of anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

The transformation of the deviant, unaware 16-year-old Earl into the now self-confident, awakened 22-year-old Earl can be vividly witnessed through each of his musical projects and interviews.

When describing his latest release during an interview with Spin Magazine, Sweatshirt explains, “I feel like it’s the most honest in the sense that it is not entirely wallowing, you know what I mean? It’s not like I’m just sitting in a depression; it’s the first step to where I’m at now, which was like, taking shit into my own hands and taking control of my own life and making the choice to be happier.”

Below is a list of five things you don’t know about Sweatshirt’s 2015 release “I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside.”

1. Sony botched the release of the album.

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In his most recent interview with NPR, Sweatshirt expanded on the miscommunication that occurred between him and his label during the launch of his album.

According to Sweatshirt, his original plan was to release a surprise music video of “Grief,” a single from the album, on his website and then to simply have the title of the album appear at the end of the video.

When he received the product from the label, he discovered large banners on the website that read “Download the new album” – something that Earl felt was excessive.

After making it clear that he wanted the banners gone, Sweatshirt checked his Twitter feed and noticed tweets from fans about the album.

A quick Google search revealed that everything about the album had been released including the album, track list, guest features – everything except for the video.

When asked about how he felt at the time, Sweatshirt stated, “This is the first thing that I’ve said that I fully stand behind, like the good and the bad of it. Because it’s just — I’ve never been this transparent with myself or with music. I’ve never been behind myself this much. So for them to not treat [the album] as importantly as I was treating it was just like — I couldn’t help but to feel a little disrespected, you know?

2. Earl considers “Solace,” a surprise 10 minute track, to be his most honest work – I Don’t Like S**t is the runner up.

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While I Don’t Like S**t has a special place in his heart, the work that Sweatshirt feels most strongly about is “Solace” which was released after the album.

The song is a spacy collection of abstract samples and instrumentals accompanied by reflective, nonchalant rhymes that offer an inner glimpse into Earl’s reflections and thoughts.

Sweatshirt has described the piece as a present to himself and as something for his mom – someone who he often clashed with as a naïve adolescent.

The track was created by the rapper during a low point in his life which resulted in Earl’s finding of himself and a sense of purpose.

“I feel like it’s the most honest in the sense that it is not entirely wallowing, you know what I mean? It’s not like I’m just sitting in a depression; it’s the first step to where I’m at now, which was like, taking s**t into my own hands and taking control of my own life and making the choice to be happier,” said Sweatshirt in regards to his opinion on “Solace.”

 

3. The majority of the album was produced by Earl himself.

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Doris, Sweatshirt’s first album, consisted of production from Earl himself, Christian Rich, Tyler, the Creator, Casey Veggies, RZA, Vince Staples, and Mac Miller.

Along with other members of Odd Future, Sweatshirt’s beats are known for their heavy, unorthodox production that often gives off and eerie and unsettling vibe.

Sweatshirt decided to take things into his own hands to produce almost all of I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside even though he has previously expressed himself feeling uncomfortable or awkward when rhyming over his own beats.

Fellow musician and well-known producer Flying Lotus apparently instructed Sweatshirt to follow through with this despite his initial self-doubt.

 

4. Earl had to cancel tour dates of his Eastern Europe tour due to health concerns from the physical and mental tolls of touring.

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Ironically, the album’s title was originally conceived as a sort of joke since Sweatshirt was constantly on the road and outside during the first tour – however, the album’s name began to speak a dark truth when he found himself in this physical and mental hole.

Sweatshirt recorded the majority of the album during a period of downtime between tours.

During the second tour cycle in Eastern Europe, Sweatshirt’s physical health began to unravel as a result of malnutrition and fatigue.

The rest of the tour was cancelled as the 20-year-old rapper weighed in at a mere 118 pounds. It was during this time that Sweatshirt was able to truly find himself.

When asked what he looked like during this period of clarity, he replied, “F—-ed up. I looked f—-ed up. When I was in my most — when I had the most clarity, I looked f—-ed up. I think that’s kind of universal though. A lot of dudes that get, like, really withered and skinny, all of sudden get this really profound sense of clarity. This is the concept behind fasting, I think. Like, you don’t eat. And it’s hard. It’s the worst. And then you get to the other side and it’s like the clearest your head has ever been. So that’s where I was with a lot of the album.”

 

5. Track 9, “DNA,” features a verse from Earl’s best friend, Nakel, written moments after Nak received news his friend had passed away.

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Sweatshirt has described tracks on the album as attempts to create specific moments or essentially take photographs of his life.

“DNA” is what Sweatshirt considers to be the heaviest song on the record.

The original plan was for Nakel, Sweatshirt’s closest friend who rarely raps, to record a verse on a beat that was picked out for him.

Nakel, or Nak, arrived at the studio, took a tab of LSD, and sat down ready to write. Fifteen minutes later, Nak received the news that his best friend had just died in the hospital after being shot.

Not knowing what to do, Nak asked Sweatshirt for advice to which he responded by simply telling him to write something down.

“Like, how often do you get — n—–s make songs about [their] dead homies. But fresh. The scar was right then. Like, he just found out. You can hear it in his voice,” says Sweatshirt.

 

by Sam Mills

 

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