For the past few years, Earl Sweatshirt has been struggling for clarity. His latest projects – especially the 2015s I do not like shit, I do not go outside and the 2018s Some rap songs– waded through an abstract haze as he hurled complex thoughts down to rods sticking like tar to the sidewalk. With a balance between the prosaic and the poetic, Earl’s authorship gives you just enough information and details to form more questions than answers. It is an enticing technique, and his latest single “2010” launches it into the stratosphere.
“The crescent moon blink when I blinked was gone,” Earl says of the synthetic buzz of Black Noi $ e’s beat. “Left the crib slammed, no sheath on the sword / made it by the skin of my teeth, thank God.” Snapshots of Earls past and present flutter through the song, leaving remnants on the brain: moving around with “five O’s like the Olympics”; childhood memories of his mother listening to Mary J. Blige; time with friends up north and at Temple University. “2010” is no less thoughtful than any Earl Sweatshirt song released in the last six years, but his words are clearer and more hopeful than they have been for a while. He’s looking forward to the future (“We got ourselves a fire to light up again”), and his voice has the same bravado as his recent work with Alchemist, especially the Navy Blue-featuring child burner “Nobles.” He’s not out of the woods yet, but Earl is no longer drowning in his thoughts.