Album Review | Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!

This album was released on January 14th this year. I don’t know how I’m gonna feel about this record. The last project from Earl that I fully enjoyed was his Solace EP, but everything he’s put out since then has been mediocre at best. With that said, I actually really loved the first single from this album, so hopefully that’s a good sign. I’m surprised to see that there’s no randomblackdude production on this project, but, considering how shitty the production on Some Rap Songs was, maybe that’s a good thing. Anyway, I’m expecting this project to be okay. Hopefully I’m not disappointed.

The album begins with Old Friend, which is produced by The Alchemist. I think the beat here is pretty awesome to be honest. There’s just one verse from Earl on this song—the whole track is just 79 seconds long—but it’s pretty dope. I mean, I don’t think it’s amazing or anything, but it’s definitely enjoyable.

Split it with my hand like Cigarills
Slick oil in a fish gill
I fill a void with the pen, feel the fear, shrill
Couple stains that I couldn't shill
My brother brain that we couldn't shield
Couple came, couple wins still
And what remain of the wolves kneel
I held the page, gave the book ears
Whispered "thanks," hella pain, heavy brain in the catskills
Played the shade, quite a deal
Glad we stayed friends

I found it pretty funny how he was able to rhyme the word “solemn” with “virus” in the opening couplet. Overall, I think it’s a pretty dope way to start the album. I fuck with it. The following track is the aforementioned lead single for the album, 2010.

The preceding track transitions into this one really well. I think Black Noi$e’s production here is fucking awesome too. I also really love Earl’s relatively fast-paced flow on this track.

03, mama rockin' Liz Claiborne
Had her stressin' up the wall playin' Mary J. songs
Rainy day came, couldn't rinse the stains off
Long way to go, we already came far
Story stayed the same, it was never madе up
Threw me loose changе, look at what I made of it
When the mood change, I'ma poker-face 'em
It's a new day, who got all the aces?
Who be foldin' late? Who know when to play dead?
Who sit up straight when the roof caved in?

It’s cool to hear him go over more Trap-oriented production. Even though there’s technically only one verse, the song sounds more complete than the preceding track. My favorite lines of the song actually appear in the hook.

Foot shook ground when I stepped on it
Didn't look back when I broke soil
'Cause every time I did it would hurt more

There’s really not a single aspect of this song that I don’t like. I think it’s one of the best solo tracks I’ve heard from Earl in years. It’s dope as hell. The following track is entitled Sick!, and it’s got a pretty cool beat from Navy Blue. The primary loop isn’t really that interesting, but the hard-hitting Trap percussion really adds a lot to it. There’s just one verse from Earl on this song, and it’s pretty solid. None of the lyrics really stood out to me that much, but he sounded really good. His flow sounds great. This isn’t one of my favorite songs on the album, but I definitely enjoyed it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. The following track is called Vision. I was nervous going into this track because I’d seen some mixed reactions toward the verse from ZelooperZ, of whom I’m already not really a fan. However, I actually didn’t mind his verse here. It’s just weird to me that people seem to be having such a strong reaction to it because it doesn’t stand out that much at all. His flow is super basic, and he’s not even doing his signature weirdo delivery. This is the most normal I’ve ever heard ZelooperZ sound. I think his performance here is okay. Again, it doesn’t really stand out to me. However, Earl thankfully sounded really good on the second verse. However, this one line stood out a lot to me.

Fuck out my face with syringe

I will laugh so fucking hard if Earl turns out to be anti-vax. I doubt that’s what he meant by this line, but I don’t know for sure. He’ll probably clear up any confusion with a tweet in the future, but for now I’m not sure how to feel about it. Even if it is an anti-vax line, I still like the verse overall. I also think the production from Black Noi$e is pretty cool. Overall, this isn’t really a highlight for me on the album, but I definitely enjoyed it. I think it’s pretty good. Track 5 is called Tabula Rasa, and it was the second single from the album.

This song is kind of disappointing to me. I definitely like it to some extent, but it’s nowhere near as fire as 2010 to me. My main gripe is just the production from Rob Chambers & Theravada. The beat is way too repetitive. Sonically, this song has absolutely zero momentum. Once you’ve heard the first 10 seconds you pretty much know what the entire four minutes of the song sounds like. I mean, it’s not like the beat on 2010 ever switched up at any point either, but I didn’t mind because the song was so short. Thankfully, the rapping on this song is good enough to keep me interested. The Armand Hammer feature is great, and Earl actually had my favorite verse. I think he killed this track. His flow wasn’t anything special, but his verse was fantastic lyrically. They all performed really well though. I feel like each verse is better than the last. The song is pretty good overall. It’s followed by Lye, which has another beat from The Alchemist. This is a decent song, but it’s not really something I’m gonna be returning to. The production is cool, and same goes for the verse from Earl, but it’s just kind of a snoozefest. I mean, that might be a bit harsh. It’s not a bad song at all. It’s just that nothing about it really stands out at all. I have no reason to listen to this again. There’s just one verse, and it’s not really anything special. I mean, it’s definitely good, but as a complete song this track just leaves a lot to be desired. I think it’s an okay song, but it has zero replay value for me. Track 7 is an interlude called Lobby. I think the production from Samiyam is really awesome. I wish this was fleshed out into a full song because it could’ve been one of my favorite tracks. However, once again, the song just consists of one quick verse. The verse is definitely cool though. I like the song a lot. I just think it could’ve been developed further. Track 8 is called God Laughs, and it’s produced by Alexander Spit. This is one of the better songs on the album in my opinion. I really love the drumless production, and Earl’s flow was relatively aggressive here. I thank god that there’s no percussion because otherwise he’d be completely off beat. Lyrically, I think this is one of the best songs on the album.

The same dust can't stay, I gotta clean or I can't think
Resort to cantankerous means on the cash play rat races
The cheese sit in the trap, waitin', snap, then we break
Somethin' reachin' for me from the waist
These days I'm mindful of what I embrace
Operating on a empty tank, spank me
Fumes fueling a flame
My grandfather spoke thirteen languages
Somehow never had nothing to say to Boot Raymond

Once again, the whole song is just one quick verse, but it’s very good. I think this track has some of the best production and rapping on the whole album. It’s dope. The penultimate song was the third and final single from the album, Titanic.

When I first heard this track, I was incredibly underwhelmed. I definitely like it more now than I originally did, but it’s still not something I would return to. I just don’t care for Earl’s flow on this track. I mean, the flow itself isn’t bad. I just wish he switched it up at some point along with his vocal delivery because it gets really repetitive. The production from Black Noi$e is fire though. I really like the beat. Unfortunately, the song as a whole just doesn’t have much replay value for me. It’s an okay track overall though. The closing song is called Fire in the Hole, and it’s definitely a highlight for me. It’s easily the most fleshed out song on the project. I think it has some of the best rapping on the album too. At one point he spit a couplet with a whopping six-syllable rhyme scheme.

Threw on some Bootsy, I rather be with you when I'm high
I went ahead and mixed some Beetle Juice with the wine

I also love the jazzy production from Black Noi$e. The piano that comes in for the outro was a nice way to close the album. There’s really nothing that I don’t like about this song. A second verse probably could’ve pushed it to the next level for me, but I still love it as it is. This shit is dope as hell.

This album is good. It’s far from my favorite Earl project, but I think it’s his best work since 2015. The production is pretty good for the most part, and there’s not a wack verse on this album. There are a couple tracks that lack replay value for me, but even those tracks aren’t particularly bad. I definitely would prefer if the songs were longer and more fleshed out because some of these tracks felt kind of incomplete or half-assed. I don’t think there’s a single track where Earl spits more than one verse. However, for the most part, I’m satisfied with this release. Hopefully his next project is even better.

Favorite Song: 2010
Least Favorite Song: Lye


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B-

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