With Earl’s third album, an obvious change is seen in the rapper. He is older, more mature. As he said in an interview with NPR, “I’m grown.”
The opening track “Huey” is already radically different from Doris. Of course, there’s no denying that Doris was incredible– but I suppose Doris is to Earl what Can’t Be Tamed is to Miley Cyrus– a project born of insecurity and attempts to discover a sound, made with care but ultimately, doubt and nervousness. With I Don’t Like Shit… Earl finally gets to showcase who he is and what he has planned for the future.
The album is short, only 10 songs– quite small for a hyped-up release, but one could argue that that makes it all the more better. It forces the listener to appreciate the small gift they’ve been given.
Beyond “Huey,” which couldn’t have been a more important opener for the record, the incredible “Grief” also sets the tone for the album– it’s dark, but almost a coming-of-age album, where from beginning to end, a change comes over Earl and by the end of it, he ultimately transforms to a more confident, grown-up man.
The biggest difference between I Don’t Like Shit… and Doris is ultimately the production and creation. Creatively, Earl had what seems like total control– from writing every single song almost by himself (with the exception of songs featuring artists) to producing almost every single song himself. It’s an impressive feat for a young, 21-year-old rapper, especially one who received such huge acclaim for his previous works. And if Doris was built on a foundation of insecurity and youth, I Don’t Like Shit… is an independent project built with apparent confidence. But still, imagine the nerves about putting this album out for public consumption, especially after the world loved your previous work– but you knew it wasn’t truly the sound you wanted to be making. With this record, Earl took a huge stride towards cementing his place in rap history, and it couldn’t have been done without him producing and creating this album on his own– without the help or influence of Tyler, the Creator.
The beats on I Don’t Like Shit… seemingly play with scratches and distortion. They’re primitive, rudimentary, forcing the listener to pay attention to what’s really important– the words coming out of Earl’s mouth, and the things he’s trying to say. Like Doris, it plays with underground production values, but the rhyme schemes and staggering raps are what stand out overall.