Earl

Common Sense Media says

Brilliant but hyper-explicit wordplay from teen rap prodigy.

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There are no positive messages here. Earl's graphic, violent fantasies fill the album with a menacing horror element, coupled with an immature teenager's crude perception of sex.

Positive role models

Although the foul-mouthed Sweatshirt isn't exactly a role model, the fact that he was 15 and 16 when he wrote these dense and complex rhymes is incredible and inspiring to anyone who writes or raps.

Violence

Much like a young Eminem, Earl peppers his wordplay with hyper-violent fantasies that are cartoonish and exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness, with lines such as, "Three seconds it takes for her to turn blue / with my hands around her throat, her arms stopped moving, pulse stops, too" and "Started thinking about a normal life, it got me suicidal / standing in the kitchen with a noose and rifle." Earl and his friends are clearly desensitized to violence, mocking shock value for the fact that it still shocks people.

Sex

Although the mixtape is mostly bereft of much explicit sexual content, there are certainly plenty of lines that refer to using women for sexual purposes, describe violent sex acts, or brag about the teenager's prowess. It's mostly pretty childish stuff, such as "My dick hates sweaters so she jack it slow / the aftermath proves to be smoother than hair relaxer, oh," but then there's more troubling content such as "It's Earl, Mr. Late Shift, rapist in training / who edge about as straight as some clay closet gay dick," and his Odd Future friends stop by for even more dubious wordplay, with Vince Staples rapping "Slipped a couple Rufilin inside this bitch's juice and gin, next thing you know, we're on Earl's burgundy carpet / She's kicking and screaming, begging for me to f--king stop it / Look, you know it's not rape if you like it, bitch / So sit down like a pretty ho and don't fight this s--t."

Language

Earl launches a continuous barrage of profanity throughout the entire record, with nearly every other line featuring words such as the "N" word, "bitch," "f-g," "c--t," and "f--k." There's basically no explicit word he doesn't use. It's troubling that Odd Future insists on using the gay slur "f-g" so often, even though they claim to not be homophobes and say they're taking the power from the word, similar to how rappers have embraced the "N" word. 

Consumerism

There are some brand names used in the context of rhyming, but a free, hyper-violent mixtape is about as non-commercial as rap gets.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Although drugs and alcohol are not the focus of most of the lyrics, there are references throughout, with lines such as "Chronic in the spliff to dome, got my system slow" and "At the airport smokin' hash with all the f--n' baggage handlers."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Earl is an ultraviolent, highly explicit teen rebel fantasy played out over the course of a dense and brilliant rap album. As with the rest of his Odd Future group mates (such as Tyler, The Creator), Earl Sweatshirt (only 15 and 16 years old when he wrote this record) relies on shock value and psychotic storytelling to grab the listener's attention, then uses his lyrical wizardry to reveal a deeper exploration of youth and skater-punk subculture. There is plenty to watch out for here, with every curse word under the sun making an appearance and graphic and offensive references to sex, violence, and drugs. Earl is not appropriate for kids. However, with parental approval, some very mature teens, particularly those with budding lyrical or rap inclinations, could find much to admire in the young prodigy's work.

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Kids say

What's the story?

EARL is the debut mixtape from Earl Sweatshirt, the youngest member of Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future (also known as OFWGKTA). Written and recorded when Earl was only 15 and 16 years old, the tape attracted major buzz and received much critical acclaim, particularly in the blogosphere that embraced Odd Future's brash and over-the-top style and lauded Earl as the next great MC. The collection was originally released for free online via the group's Tumblr site, similar to much of OF's early catalog.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Even putting aside Earl's precociousness, his virtuosity as a lyricist is stunning. His unmistakable deep, husky voice spits out rhyme after rhyme, his words an avalanche of tumbling metaphors and cultural references. Although some parents may be terrified of the often-shocking content of his songs, it's impossible not to marvel at the depth of his poetry and his ability to connect with angst-ridden teenagers bored with high school life. There's a true profundity here that is easily lost in all the rape and murder posturing, a sensitive kid who's clearly disillusioned with life and love: "She's gorgeous, when n----s see it, jaws hit the floor / so when she left, it didn't break my heart, it broke my torso / Making my eyes ache, stalking her MySpace / Posted a new pic, I mean it when I say that I f--king hate you, but / maybe if you looked in this direction / I'd pick my heart off the floor and put it in my chest then feel the f---king life, rushing through my body / but you got a guy, it's not me, so my wrist is looking sloppy." Since this tape was released in 2010, Sweatshirt has matured and improved immeasurably as an artist (and even a role model), with his studio album debut, 2013's Doris, providing a more adult window into a complex and creative mind.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the improbable rise of Odd Future. How did these high school kids with an Internet following become commercially viable rap stars? What does it say about the power of blogs and Tumblr?

  • Why do you think shocking or explicit lyrics can be tantalizing for young listeners? Do you think it's a legitimate outlet for rebellious teenagers? Does it resonate more since Earl himself is so young?

  • It's been more than 10 years since Eminem shocked the world with his version of "horrorcore." Why do you think people continue to be shocked and outraged over violently explicit content? Is it something children need to be protected from, or is it just another part of youth culture at this point?

Music details

Artist:Earl Sweatshirt
Release date:March 31, 2010
Type:Album
Label:Odd Future
Genre:Hip-hop
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:No

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byleog123 September 6, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

It's awesome

By the time your child gets to high school, i'm pretty sure they've heard everything... and by everything i mean, drug names, drug effects, cuss words, etc... so why would you be worried about your child listening to this album? it's just fiction... it's better just to let them listen to it, cause if you don't they'll just find a way to do it anyways...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byCWG1 August 30, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Some Of The Best Rap Has To Offer

Earl is one of the most intelligent rappers in awhile, and he makes some of the best rap we have out there today. Know though that he was about sixteen when he made this album, and there is a lot of language that goes along with graphic sexual and violent lyrics that may offend a lot of people, and that parents may not want there kids to hear. Know though parents that your kids are already exposed to worse at school, and there isn't a lot you can do to keep them protected forever.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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