Earl Sweatshirt, you are one mysterious little fellow. The 18-year-old member of underground rap sensation Odd Future has certainly compiled an unusual past and present. Best known for his intense and controversial lyrics, Earl Sweatshirt disappeared just as Odd Future’s popularity was gaining momentum. It was reported that Earl’s mother was concerned about his excessive partying and emotional instability and decided to ship him off to a boarding school in Samoa. He returned home to Los Angeles in February 2012, nearly a year and a half later, and people are questioning whether or not Earl ever left. If you are unfamiliar with the strange sequence of events surrounding this story, let me bring you up to speed. Here are the deets, the bullet points and the scuttlebutt (LOVE that word) on a tale that is seriously lacking in fact.
1.) The identity- Earl Sweatshirt is our subject. His real name is Thebe Kgositsile and he was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He is the son of South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile. His style of rap has been described as graphic, and heavy on the wordplay.
2.) The beginning- Earl released his self-titled debut album in March of 2010 as a free download on the Odd Future website. Sweatshirt’s BFF, Tyler, the Creator, produced the album and is the frontman of the Odd Future crew.
3.) The success- Earl received a wave of positive reviews and was named one of the best albums of 2010 by Complex. The video for the title track certainly got people talking and created a surge in album downloads. It’s a montage of disturbing images from blood-spitting and drug use to a fun-filled afternoon of skateboarding. (I’ll admit, hard for me to watch and I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones, so I can usually handle my gore.)
4.) The plot twist- Just as Odd Future started touring and doing interviews, Earl Sweatshirt was nowhere to be found. Various sources and insiders discussed the possibility of Earl splitting from the band. Nothing was confirmed during this time and without answers, fans turned to rally cries. And thus, “Free Earl” became a thing.
5.) The mother- Cheryl Harris, a law professor at University of California, Los Angeles, is Earl’s mum. She became concerned with his excessive marijuana use and emotional struggles and sent him to Coral Reef Academy in Samoa. Cutting Earl off from the rest of the world at what seemed to be the peak of Odd Future’s fame, made Ms. Harris the enemy in the eyes of the media and the fans.
6.) The absence- Tyler, the Creator frequently expressed how much he missed Earl during the separation. The fan base continued to grow and the mystery surrounding the young talent coupled with the unknown future of the band created a lure that kept people buzzing.
7.) The return- Earl returned to Los Angeles in February, a year and a half after his arrival in Samoa. People wondered if the relationship between Earl and Tyler would be strained after their lives had taken such different paths. Earl has done multiple interviews since his homecoming and appears clear-headed and ready to pick up where he left off.
8.) The footage- BUT WAIT! Our friends over at Hipster Runoff discovered this video that appears to document some of Earl’s time spent in Samoa. However, they’ve noticed several inconsistencies in the video that cause us to wonder, was Earl really in Samoa? Or was he kept in hiding in order to build the Odd Future brand and create buzz surrounding a dramatic hiatus?
9.) The truth- So what is the truth? Here’s what HRO had to say about it, “Earl Sweatshirt was never in Samoa. People who are ‘insiders’ in the industry know this. Basically, Odd Future wanted to make sure that Tyler the Creator got all the initial buzz, then when buzz was dying, they could bring back Earl Sweatshirt and say that he was in a foreign country for reasons that seemed ‘deep and dramatic.’ They basically took advantage of a nice, young man to build the overall Odd Future brand, launch ‘swag lines’ and ‘get TV shows.’ The video is really confusing because they take him to be interviewed at some radio station, even though he isn’t famous in Samoa. It is all clearly an act, staged blog fodder to make white swag Odd Future tweens think that Earl Sweatshirt is ‘deep’.”
10.) The fallout- The future of Odd Future is unknown at this point. The management team behind the collective has yet to respond to claims that Earl never left the area. The statements above certainly raise some good points though. How do YOU feel about this debacle? Is this an example of poor brand management?
Please feel free to add your thoughts and opinions on this or any other conspiracies (because conspiracies are fun) in the comment section below.
Image via Hipster Runoff