Understanding Solace From Earl Sweatshirt

earl-sweatshirt

Image from getmybuzzup.com

When this short procession was showcased back in 2015, I did not know what to apprehend of it. The track was too dark and muddled for me to really see what his point was with the track. I only found an eerie sensation prolonging for a while after listening to it in its entirety. That may or may not be the point of the release, but nonetheless, I could have only understood it to that capacity.

Solace was released just a handful of months after his previous album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. The album was a vulnerable venture into an eloquent lyricist, poetically but cryptically displaying the darker territories of his mind. The production felt skeletal and uncomfortable, with Earl adding onto the uneasiness with elusive wordplay.


This was released in the Summer of the same year, with the only publicly displayed information sourced around the internet claiming that this was dedicated to his mother. Just knowing that after listening to the track adds to the macabre uneasiness of the track.

The ten-minute track is divided up into five different soundscapes. The overall production is minimal and grunge-like. When you start the track, you get warped into something cold and ugly. There is a malevolent sample that plays over some prolonged, almost ethereal, sound. Fifty seconds into the track, you enter into the second portion.

Earl adds some lyricism in the second portion. Earl is transparently suffering, at least in the context of this track. The picture he paints is desperate, which almost seems like a cry for help.

“I spent days faded and anemic. 

You can see it in my face, I ain’t been eating. 

I’m just wasting away.”

He isn’t explicitly stating what he’s going through, or what’s adding onto this thought process. He uses the same technique he’s well praised for. Using analogies, adjectives, and transitional portraits that create the whole picture. Although, by the end of this track, he ends his verse with:

“Trying to make sense of all the shit that’s in my brain. 

One foot stuck in the tar pit of my ways.” 

In the third section, Earl samples malevolent piano chords that pelt and braise Earl’s whispering confession.

“I’ve been alone for the longest. 

It’s trouble, the way that we joggin’. 

Nothing gon’ save us or stop us. 

Me and my nimbling conscious.” 

The third section of the track is an instrumental venture that heads into lighter territory. Although it doesn’t seem light-hearted. The beat is still skeletal and cold. The chords are pretty but shine through the rugged bass and drum beat. After the minute-long beat, the track delves into the fourth section.

The chords slowly fade away and instead drone into spacey, hollow chords. Once Earl adds his continuing poetry into the beat, the chords go away, and what’s left is quiet sound play.

“Well, time waits for no man

And death waits with cold hands. 

I’m the youngest, old man that you know. 

If your soul intact, let me know.”

That’s the last verse Earl uses before venturing into the final portion of the beat. After the hollow coda of his confession, the beat lasts over a minute longer. The sample is hollow and feels like pure mist. The beat adds to the venturing tunnel into the shallow feeling felt throughout the beat.

The beat goes on for the minute and a half, slowly fading away into the silence. After the ten minutes of sedating but hollow walk through the track, there isn’t much to say afterward. I’ve never heard of anything like this before.

Some of the pitches on the chords and samples feel old, decrepit, and ominous. During my initial listen, I was left subdued and tackled by its effectiveness, but I could not understand it.

Now listening to it once more with much many more tribulations in my life that come with maturity, I could now see a glimpse of what Earl was trying to say with this.

“Well, time waits for no man

And death waits with cold hands. 

I’m the youngest, old man that you know. 

If your soul intact, let me know.”

 

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