What we hear on SICK! is the most realized version of Earl to date: a man with the same wandering spirit as before, but with a newfound command of his celebrity. This Earl is far more serene and grounded in who he really is. You feel his curiosity when speaking with him; his thoughts tend to land broadly and touch on everything from African literature to spiritual jazz and ’90s hip-hop before centering on himself. When asked to unpack his own narrative, he tends to speak in terms of we and not I, leaning on the group aesthetic to explain his own rise. The emphasis isn’t surprising, given Earl’s recent love of fellowship, but for an artist who made his name as a loner, his optimism is refreshing to hear. For an album born out of seclusion, SICK! is a moving ode to evolution. As always, Earl is a testament to the healing powers of honesty and self-awareness.