Earl

Music review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
Earl Music Poster Image
Brilliant but hyper-explicit wordplay from teen rap prodigy.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

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 & Representations

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."

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 16 years old Written byleog123 September 6, 2014

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... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byqwcbee March 28, 2016

Great Mixtape

Amazing tape from a younger Earl, his music has improved over the years, but this tape is a classic. I would recommend this to kids that know a lot about whats... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love Underground hip-hop

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate