Music

Earl Sweatshirt Gets Contemplative on New Album ‘Sick!’

In just 24 minutes–and with only two features–Earl Sweatshirt ponders isolation and coming-of-age on Sick!

Earl Sweatshirt has made a triumphant return. Explaining that Sick! is a “humble offering of 10 songs recorded in the wake of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns”, Sweatshirt keeps tracks tight and concise, but his lyrical confidence has grown.

With producers Black Noi$e, Alchemist, Ancestors (Navy Blue), Samiyam and others, Sweatshirt settles into ancestral pride, even name-checking his “uncle Fela” on the title track. What follows is a clip of Fela Kuti from his 1979 documentary Music Is the Weapon where the Afrobeat legend says, “As far as Africa is concerned, music cannot be for enjoyment. Music has to be for revolution. Music is the weapon.”

Black empowerment flows throughout Sick!, from the album’s ritual-esque artwork, to another clip on “Vision” encouraging Black children to “feel proud of who they are”. The message goes double for Sweatshirt, who became a first-time father in 2021.

“I ain’t gonna lie. It’s scary being a father if you’re still learning to take care of yourself. There’s the level of responsibility where it’s like, I can’t even be putting myself in a certain type of harm’s way,” Sweatshirt recently told Mixmag. “I’m learning how to be less selfish. Learning how to let fucking go. That’s the hardest thing. What’s that saying, ‘you can be happy or right?’ I’d rather be right. So, I’m learning how to be happy.”

Later this month, Earl Sweatshirt fans will get to hear more Sick! in-person. Sweatshirt and Action Bronson will head off as co-headliners on their 15-date ÑBA Leather World tour. With guest spots from Alchemist and Boldy James, ÑBA Leather World begins on January 29th in San Diego, wrapping up on March 3rd in Tempe, Arizona.

 

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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