Can Earl Sweatshirt find ‘Solace’?

Earl Sweatshirt has made the transition from buoyant boy to brooding artist. Solace is ‘arty’. It takes all the trendy hip- hop things: minimalism and irregular time signatures and takes it to the nth degree. It’s quite clearly what I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside would have been if he had everything his way; if there was no pressure to sell a single copy. It’s slow and barely musical, the raps are intentionally lazy – that seems to be his thing now. There’s also some more serious concern for his mental health. That River Phoenix reference surely has to raise some legit alarm bells about child prodigys dying young. Hip hop is a genre tied up with excess, energy and braggadocio. In stark contrast, Earl’s new solemn sounds offers a particularly saddening perspective.