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Meaning of ‘E. Coli’ by ‘The Alchemist’ feat. Earl Sweatshirt

Released: 2018 • Features: Earl Sweatshirt

Aight, let’s bust this down. “E. Coli” by The Alchemist, calling in Earl Sweatshirt on the flow, is an introspective joint that revolves around Earl navigating a world that’s sometimes too much to bear. It’s a glimpse into his psyche, betraying his anxieties and musings, his struggles with the law, and contrasting life experiences. The track encapsulates his fight to maintain sanity while delivering his truth as he sees it.

The opening sample sets the vibe – touching on the purity of emotion that goes into songwriting. Earl then enters with a vivid reflection of his restless mind: “My thoughts, dreams, plots, and my schemes / That’s what’s on my mind when I toss in my sleep.” This provides insight into Earl’s introspective nature and the mental tension he battles with. The “toss in my sleep” refers to the mental unrest that often plagues him.

“My heart like my pen when I jot and it bleed / My cart full of sin, when I shop it’s a spree” – Earl is saying his creative work, the act of writing, is truly a labor of love. It’s an emotional release that feels just as critical as a heart pumping blood. The ‘sin’ he shops for could symbolize the vices, experiences, and truths he uses to fuel his lyricism.

When he spits, “You just moss on a tree, I’m not concerned with you,” he’s taking shots at anyone he deems insignificant. Like moss on a tree, they ain’t going nowhere, just stuck in one spot. He’s explicitly unbothered by such people.

Earl gives it to us raw when he rhymes about dodging the law, “The badge on the policeman, black carpenter pants / A half ounce in ’em, another half ounce in my fleece”. He’s vividly painting a picture of being on the streets, alert to the police while carrying weed.

Homie goes hard describing his state of constant hyperawareness, “My eyes wide open, I’m sleepy, I’m on a highway / Paul Giamatti, a nigga was sittin’ sideways”. Peep the reference to Paul Giamatti’s role in “Sideways”, a film about a road trip gone sideways – just like his life seems to be at times.

The last verse wraps up the paranoia and struggle, “Back and forth, I place fourth, keep your torch / Got your morsels on my plate, motherfucker”. Earl’s saying he’s no longer in the race for recognition or success, he’s done with chasing the false glitter that’s presented by others. He’s all about his own truth and journey.

In this joint, Earl Sweatshirt is more than just an emcee; he’s a poet weaving a mellow, introspective narrative about wrestles with the self, the law, and the pressures of life. “E. Coli” is a contemplative cruise down Earl’s lane, showing us the world from his rearview mirror.

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