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Meaning of ‘Sentry’ by ‘Earl Sweatshirt’ feat. The Alchemist, MIKE

Released: 2023 • Features: The Alchemist, MIKE

The song “Sentry” featuring MIKE, finds Earl Sweatshirt getting introspective, delivering bars that reflect on his personal struggles, his upbringing, life’s hardships, and the significance of staying true to oneself. Earl Sweatshirt, renowned for his complex lyricism, often uses abstract metaphors and vivid imagery, parallel to the layered production typically seen in his songs. The Alchemist, and MIKE are also known for their brutally honest and contemplative lyrics, which are typically accompanied by low-key, jazz-influenced production.

Earl Sweatshirt’s opening lines speak volumes to the experiences he’s gone through, particularly the isolation of dealing with deep-seated personal issues while feeling abandoned by those he needed the most. The line, “Pizzaria dough, big amounts” is a clever metaphor suggesting the weight of his wealth, but also hinting at the pressures and criticism that come with success.

When he references “Khoikhoi and Tswana in the kid,” Earl is highlighting his mixed-race heritage (his father is South African), and how that shapes his identity. The ‘bloodstains’ he refers to symbolize the historical and personal scars left by colonialism and racial tensions in both of Earl’s ‘motherland’ and ‘fatherland’.

Earl references jazz musician “Freddie Hubbard” to symbolize the inspiration he takes from jazz, both in the structure of his music and in his philosophical outlook. The phrase, “Can you dig what I’m saying?” is classic jazz lingo, further meshing his work with the genre.

Earl delves into his interpersonal relationships and the torrent of emotions associated with trust, honesty, and infidelity in the lines, “All my flaws didn’t rise from adultery…How you lie to me, you breakin’ my heart.” He implies that he expects authenticity and straightforwardness in his relationships, seeking understanding rather than deceit.

Finally, Earl reiterates the importance of staying loyal to oneself and the struggle to make one’s own path, emphasizing that he still has much to give and won’t allow himself to become hardened or unfeeling despite the pressures he faces. “Before us slide you be waitin’ to start / For pops I’m takin’ the charge / Ain’t no option makin’ it ours” underlines his determination to take control of his narrative, pay homage to his roots, and shape his own destiny in spite of the obstacles.

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