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 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.


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. 



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 5:21 PM Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS But the next president might. 
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:31 PM Did You Catch Walter White’s Blink-and-You’ll-Miss-It Cameo in Godzilla?
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?