Let’s dig into the depths of “Huey,” a track penned by the cerebral wordsmith, Earl Sweatshirt. This opening track off his album “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside,” is a tour of Sweatshirt’s inner world, juggling themes of melancholy, personal struggle, and braggadocio. Understanding the weight of his words can often be like unpacking a dense poetic verse, wrapped in the dialect of the streets and the pain of a young man’s soul.
The hook sets the tone, with Earl speaking on his state of mind and his upbringing, marked by adversity and stagnation, representing his struggles with stardom, personal growth and his L.A. roots. “Foot and hand on the gates / We was jumping ’em, fuck, I’m like quicksand in my ways / Was always stuck in ’em, stuck it in and an ambulance came.” Earl uses the metaphor of quicksand to portray his feeling of being stuck in his circumstances – emotionally, mentally, and morally.
Earl touches on his intimate circle, his outlook on relationship and his work ethic within the hip-hop industry, “My bitch say the spliff take the soul from me (ayy) / And the clique tight-knit, it’s like the ‘lo rugby / Beat the fuckin’ beat like it stole from me.” It’s apparent that Earl values loyalty and sees his crew as a close-knit rugby team, always coming together in times of need.
He also confronts the perceptions of critics and peers, giving his blunt assessment of the reception to his music. “Critics pretend they get it, and bitches just don’t fuck with him.” Often, Earl’s music is appreciated by critics who claim to understand it, but feels as though it isn’t resonating with the wider audience. He articulates this divide, implying that his art might be too nonconformist for the mainstream crowd.
In the next line, Earl wears his heart on his sleeve, speaking candidly about his feelings of grief and self-medication, “I spent the day drinking and missing my grandmother.” His music often delves into the hard realities of life, and here he’s openly mourning the loss of a loved elder – a universal human experience, and a grounding moment in the midst of urban bravado.
“Just grab a glass and pour up some cold white wine in it / Or Colt .45 in it, you know how I get it.” Here Earl continues the theme of self-medication, talking about both alcohol and potentially referencing Billy D Williams-sponsored malt liquor Colt .45, he doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of his coping mechanisms.
Earl’s self-awareness shines through as he acknowledges this cycle of behavior and his need to express it through his music. “I’m toasting myself, and a toast to all my niggas / And ain’t no time limit, I’m toasted as hell / And I gotta jot it quick ’cause I can’t focus so well.” The toast serves as a dual symbol for celebration and personal ruin— a juxtaposition which is a recurring theme in Earl’s discography.
In summation, “Huey” is a fitting intro to “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside,” placing listeners directly in Earl’s shoes as he navigates his emotions, grapples with his fame, and looks back on his roots. Earl Sweatshirt’s vivid and deeply personal lyrics, drenched in metaphor and dense wordplay, reveal a young artist wrestling with the darkness within and around him, while defiantly carving out his own space in the hip-hop landscape.
This song is an authentic testament to Earl Sweatshirt’s lyrical prowess and ability to bare his soul on record, contributing to his reputation as one of the most respected and distinctive voices in modern hip-hop. Sweaty’s ability to illustrate such complex emotions and experiences is truly a marker of his virtuosity; this one’s for the hip-hop scholars, open to delving into the labyrinth of Earl’s psyche. Word!