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by Earl Sweatshirt

Released January 14, 2022 via Tan Cressida / Warner Records

Reviewed January 24, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Fire in the Hole (59%), Tabula Rasa (48%), 2010 (47%)

Earl Sweatshirt continues to prove why he’s my favorite modern rapper with his latest internal rumination. SICK! hosts the recurring themes of revisiting the past, a desire to correct previous mistakes, and how nostalgic idealism can be a fruitless endeavor. With life for many being at a sort of standstill currently, longing for a more “normal” time is involuntary; Earl presents these ideas in a beautifully cryptic manner. But what’s also important is that Earl’s self-reflections are focused on improvement for the future, not to dwell upon what could have been done better. He weaves this narrative beautifully throughout, reinforcing the baggage of the past while looking to the future with hope. Underlying these lyrics are some of the most refined production we have heard him on to date, with a varied sound palette to match his diverse flows; from crackly horn-led Alchemist beats and twinkly piano instrumentals, to watery soundscapes and distorted electronics—there is a sense of exploration. SICK! is not as ambitious as Some Rap Songs, but it shows one of the best ever furthering his reign of the game while spreading his wings further. – Jared (9/10)

SICK! is ironically the next step in Earl Sweatshirt’s growth: Soulful, coarse, and blunt. The highs and lows that this installment takes us on seem to reflect the path that his career has taken; or at least a playlist, curated by the emotions he’s felt being in the spotlight for so long. His pen revels in the present and reflects on the past in the same breath— moving forward while keeping the past in his brain’s back pocket. Sonically, this album is a mixed bag in the best way possible. Production credits from Navy Blue, The Alchemist, and Black Noi$e provide a palette of both cold and warm feelings that Earl’s lyrics notoriously take form as. SICK! holds meaning for the time it was conceived in the midst of another stage in his life: one marked by growth in a world that seems to be decaying by the minute. The record continues the game of leapfrog that Earl’s albums have played, as life’s warmth radiates even more intensely with each release. I’m glad that those rays are finally hitting him. – Ben (Synth) (8.5/10)

Earl Sweatshirt returns for the first time since the release of his warped and beautiful Some Rap Songs. Continuing on in the same fashion, sullen sounds and cryptic lyrics are put to the forefront on SICK! However, these sullen sounds have silver linings. The storm is not as close as it may seem. Joined by acts such as ZelooperZ, Alchemist, and Armand Hammer, you would think that some of the shine would be taken away from Earl; instead, the features are pulled into his universe, bolstering the overall product. Harnessing outside forces is a trait that only the best of the best can muster up. Earl is building something of a supreme discography, one that exists both in and outside of the hip-hop landscape. It is undeniably tied to hip-hop heritage, but as the years go by, he seems to pull further and further away from convention; this experimentation continues to lead to earthly delights. – Peter (8/10)

Jared: 9/10 | Alan: 8.8/10 | Ben (Synth): 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.5/10 | DeVán: 8/10

Henny: 8/10 | Pablo: 8/10 | Peter: 8/10 | Cam: 7.8/10 | Dominick: 7.8/10 | Daniel: 6.4/10


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