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Tuesday, December 12

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Review Tue Mar 31 2015

Peeling Back the Layers of Earl Sweatshirt

Riding off the explosive release of his dynamic debut album Doris, Odd Future's rambunctious MC Earl Sweatshirt abruptly abandoned his worldwide tour, citing a "lack of self-maintenance" and confessing he wore himself down — physically and mentally — to the end of his rope.

Emerging from the shadows eight months later spiraling in bleak sincerity, Earl launched his introspective sophomore effort I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside on March 23. Now he's embarking on a colossal tour, aptly titled "Not Ready 2 Leave," which stopped at Chicago's Concord Music Hall on March 29.

The crowd received a fervid opening act from Chicago newbie Remy Banks — who proclaimed he was "too high" to perform (an irony not lost on audience members who were unable to sneak a puff of anything unless they wanted to be ejected by beefy security guards). He was followed by West Coast MC Vince Staples, who was unable to keep the energy burning, even in a Metallica T-shirt. That is, until Earl appeared.

"Y'all ready to have some fun?" A bulkier, khakied and afroed Earl invited the audience, "Cuz we 'bout to take it the gangsta route."

After the crowd settled in, Earl began to clear his throat as he hesitated to introduce his new material. As he admitted in recent interviews, I Don't Like Shit is the first album that he feels fully confident in its truthful expression. It's dark stuff, hollowed and empty, slowed flow and scratching self-production, but juxtaposed against his earlier, more commercial tracks, he's beginning to take off the mask and let us in.

Ripping open his soul under a spotlight wasn't easy for Earl. He began with the intro track "Huey," almost sarcastically reciting the lines, "I spent the day drinking and missing my grandmother," before quickly swapping out the lyrics for murmurs about turning up with free beers at the show.

Once he allowed himself to commit to his words, the brilliance began. As the opening chords of "Mantra" buzzed throughout the speakers, he furrowed his brows, waved his arms and peeled off each layer of his depression: his sticky breakup, the clique nature of Odd Future, merciless press and grandmother's death. "Name getting bigger than the difference between us...Now you surrounded with a gaggle of 100 fucking thousand kids/Who you can't get mad at, when they want a pound a pic/ Cause they the reason that the traffic on the browser quick" Fame has caused him to become weak from his own pain, but strong enough to honesty approach it.

It seems as though this newfound Earl, while stark and depressed, is the most honest representation of himself. Suddenly the precocious kid from his murderous mixtape EARL or the witty, prodigal teen from Doris, both feel distant, like snapshots of his road to maturity.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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