Two words: he’s back. Following a yearlong stint at Coral Reef Academy in Samoa, Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future’s prodigal son has finally returned. Prior to this exile, the young Earl was wildly hyped up as one of hip-hop’s best rising emcees for his technical rapping abilities and mastery of assonance and multisyllabic rhymes. Following the release of his latest track “Chum” in early November, it appears as though all the accolades may not have been in vain. While Earl’s earlier work was characterized with violent and graphic content, “Chum,” offers a drastic change in subject mater for the young emcee. A deep and morose examination of conscious, it is complimented by the recent release of its music video counterpart.
Directed by Hiro Murai, the video finds a lone Earl floating through a dark urban landscape. Reminiscent of a Spike Lee film, the heavy use of dolly shots and camera angle shifts force the mostly immobile emcee to navigate through his own dismal world. A world described in the song’s lyrics as plagued with countless insecurities: an absentee father, racial identity issues, a sudden rise to fame, exile, and a fractured relationship with his mother. While this may not be the same hardcore content Earl fans fell in love with back in 2010, this new artistic direction does pave the way for a side of Earl that could prove to be equally captivating.