Earl Sweatshirt — SICK! — Album Review

Hip-Hop | Rap

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

It was certainly safe to say that Earl Sweatshirt was amongst those whose upcoming projects were highly anticipated by myself. Fans pretty much knew that his fourth studio album, titled SICK! was going to arrive after the release of his late 2021 track “2010”.

In somewhat typical fashion, fans have had to wait a fair while for the release of SICK!, which is the first full-length album from the Los Angeles rap artist since late 2018’s Some Rap Songs. However, we did also have the release of his EP FEET OF CLAY to fill in the gap a little. While I was grateful for that aspect, I felt that the sound of FEET OF CLAY was one that didn’t cast the most brilliant light over Earl Sweatshirt’s discography. The tracks on this EP ranged from skeletal, to downright annoying (directed specifically at “EAST”).

I was hoping that with his next project, Earl Sweatshirt would be able to give us a more engaging sound overall. And judging on how the teaser tracks sounded, that promise was looking more achievable than ever.

Throughout the majority of SICK! my hopes for a more engaging album became a reality. However, with an overall runtime of under 25 min’s, it was delivered in the form of quite the brief experience.

But in that briefness, we get to see what is perhaps the most engaging, and maybe even accessible, that Earl Sweatshirt has sounded since his sophomore album I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside” An Album by Earl Sweatshirt.

And while a lot of this engagement stems from Earl Sweatshirt loosening his grip on some of the more abstract elements of his sound in favour of more gritty elements, there is still a handful of tracks that stand out from the rest. It is those tracks that also served as my personal highlights of the record for sure; tracks like the aforementioned “2010”, and the amazingly smooth closer “Fire in the Hole”.

According to Earl Sweatshirt, the main meat of the album’s narrative is one that reflects on “the compromised state of mind during the COVID-19 pandemic”. So with that said, SICK! is essentially the rappers take on a lockdown album, albeit one that has been released at a time where we might hopefully be seeing the other side of it soon. But with its swift duration, I feel like more or longer tracks could’ve really given Earl Sweatshirt more freedom to hit home with this narrative.

When all is said and done, however, SICK! is still a very solid addition to the Earl Sweatshirt discography, and a vast improvement upon the likes of FEET OF CLAY. The best tracks that this album offers as well, are amongst some of his very best. I would still recommend this album to those in need of their first Hip-Hop fix of 2022, and of course to fans.

Favourite Tracks: 2010 | Tabula Rasa | Fire in the Hole

Least Favourite Track: Sick!

Tan Cressida | Warner Records

Final Score: 72%

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