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I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside

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Aptly titled with the off-putting I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, Earl Sweatshirt's sophomore effort is a crushing confessional that refuses to get off the couch, even if it's beautiful outside. "I ain't been outside for a minute, I've been livin' what I wrote" the Odd Future MC snaps on "Guilt," but then again, why bother as adoring fans ("They the reason that the paper in your trousers thick”) can't help Earl with the recent death of a family member (his grandmother) and entering your twenties jaded about drugs (there's a love/hate relationship with Xanax and/or weed that pops up here and there) must be rough. Being a teen exiled to Samoa didn't help much either as the excellent "Faucet" shrugs off his "Free Earl" era with "Before I did that shit that earned me a term on that island," but the man never comes off as misguidedly privileged or resistant to advice, he just feels like a cog in the machine, grist for the mill. I Don't Like Shit is only a grueling album on first encounter, since Earl's old-school-styled, tight rhymes remain as scintillating as they were on his official debut Doris, but that album's overwhelming runtime has been slashed to an economical 30 minutes here. Besides that, the rapper handles most of the production himself, using the moniker randomblackdude while giving "Huey" a cartoonish lilt, and "Inside" a warped vision of the angelic R&B crew member Frank Ocean offers. The idea of being "stuck" is always enforced by a soundfield that's MP3-influenced and compressed, while the guest list (Dash, Wiki, Vince Staples, and Na'kel) is minimal with only one production ("Off Top") handed over to Left Brain. I Don't Like Shit is heavy and lacks much hope, and yet it communicates these feelings with such skill and artful understanding that it still fills the soul. ~ David Jeffries