Review: Earl Sweatshirt – ‘2010’

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80%
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Earl Sweatshirt's new single raises expectations for what is coming next as he appears ready to enter the hip-hop mainstream.

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The typically cryptic Earl Sweatshirt has made his return with the first single presumptuously for an upcoming album titled Sick! (if that word being placed next to his name on his website is anything to go by). After the first hint came from Sweatshirt posting co-ordinates, leading fans to a billboard with an image of a snake wrapped around a syringe, hype has been building regarding where he may go. ‘2010 appears as the first reveal of this new direction, and it’s certainly an interesting twist for Sweatshirt’s hip-hop career, especially when looked at alongside a recent snippet that leaked which appeared to be Earl rapping over a U.K. drill type beat.

Making a huge leap away from the murky, sleepy sound of his last two projects, Some Rap Songs (2018) and Feet of Clay (2019), hip-hop’s most poetic rapper seems to be making his sound more accessible with ‘2010’s more traditional hip-hop beat. Sweatshirt remains the enigmatic figure he has been for some time now as he raps energetically, with a distractingly upbeat sound, whilst the lyrics instead tell a story of heroin addiction, struggles with depression and intense hunger for growth and/or peace. With great, open-ended lines like “Five Os on me like the Olympics” (simultaneously readable as a link to carrying five ounces of weed and being followed by the police), Earl’s lyricism is as strong as his fans would expect, and this first hint of an upcoming record is an exciting one even if Black Noi$e‘s beat suggests that Sweatshirt may be stepping away from his experimental style.

With many unreleased tracks in the rapper’s catalogue, there’s really no telling how this new album will end up, but it’s easy to have faith in Sweatshirt as an artist given his track record.

‘2010’ is now streaming. Listen below:

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