On Earl Sweatshirt’s previous project - Feet of Clay - he learnt that creating music from a stream of consciousness was the best way forward. His newest venture SICK! follows a similar pattern.
Like many artists, Sweatshirt felt the turmoil of the pandemic to the core and turned that anguish into art. “People were sick, the people were angry and isolated and restless” he says about the new project, originally intended to be what one can only assume, a longer album with a deeper context. But the world had different ideas and gave us all something else to focus on.
For an album that fell away from its original intention, SICK! is 10 tracks that come from Sweatshirt coming up for air amongst the chaos. The lurking and swirling tone of opener “Old Friend” welcomes the project with a twisted embrace, meanwhile “Vision” conveys some powerful messages, including “our children do not need to grow up in a make-believe world / you need to tell them the truth and help make them feel proud of who they are”. Track “Tabula Rasa” (which in Latin translates to ‘clean slate’ and is the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception) – reinstates the idea that the pandemic has warped all of our thought processes. The winding guitars of “Fire In The Hole” act as the perfect closer for an album that is short but sweet.
The everlasting appeal of Sweatshirt’s art is his success in staying relevant and keeping himself at the table of the elites. An artist that flows with the times whilst also staying true to his messages, SICK! carries the ever-popular lo-fi vibe as well as a blend of stellar hip-hop. Artists utilising lockdown as a creative direction is not uncommon these days, however Sweatshirt’s attempt carries a distinct sense of realness.