Watch Earl Sweatshirt’s Stunning, Spike Lee-Inspired New Video

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 5 2012 3:24 PM

Earl Sweatshirt Returns in Great New Video

Earl_Sweatshirt_Chum_still
Earl Sweatshirt in the video for "Chum."

Still from YouTube.

Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt may be making his return to hip-hop slowly, but he’s doing so in brilliant fashion. A few weeks ago he released the new solo track “Chum,” and this week that stunner gets an equally stunning new video.

“Chum” is a confessional track, and the video matches its sense of isolation. Earl’s disturbing first video for “Earl” ended with him and his friends spitting blood after taking too many tumbles on the skateboard, and “Chum” picks up where that video left off. “Get up off the pavement/ Brush the dirt up off my psyche,” he raps. The action of the black-and-white video, like the song, is mostly internal. As he wanders alone through the empty streets, the camera twists and turns right along with him.

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It’s a technique straight out of the Spike Lee playbook, with Earl standing right on the dolly as it glides through the streets. In Lee joints like Crooklyn and Summer of Sam, drug use sends the dolly turning on its head, and here director Hiro Murai uses the effect to convey the same trippy feel. When you see Earl staring down toads you might think of all the kids who lick them to get a cheap thrill.

But Earl isn’t palling around with any of those kids, and what we get instead is an Earl who’s almost all grown up. He might never ditch his signature bucket hat, but for now he’s remembering his youthful antics in the past tense. In the end, he just wants to get away from the fame: “Been back a week and I already feel like callin’ it quits.” I can’t tell him what to do, but with tracks as good as “Chum,” I'm glad he's sticking around at least long enough to put out new album Doris.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.