In an article to be published in the May 23 edition of The New Yorker, reporter Kelefah Sanneh reaches out to Sweatshirt, as well as his mother and father. Sweatshirt's father, it turns out, is celebrated South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, whose work inspired a proto-rap collective of New York poets named the Last Poets in 1968. Like father, like son, it would seem.
In an e-mail to Sanneh, Sweatshirt describes whether he was involuntarily confined thusly:
"No, no no no no no no no no no no."
As well, Sweatshirt had this to say about the "Free Earl" movement amongst his fans, which arose with the false rumor that Sweatshirt's mother had sent her son away with the intention of dashing her son's dreams of becoming a rapper:
"Initially, I was really pleased that all these people claimed that they wanted me released because I thought that translated into 'they care.' So time progresses and the fan base gets bigger and the 'Free Earl' chants get louder but now with the 'Free Earl' chants come a barely indirect 'Fuck Earl's Mom' and in the blink of an eye, my worry changes from 'will there still be this hype when I get back,' to 'Oh shit, I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom.'"
Finally, Sweatshirt spoke about taking time to get adjusted to the stress of his celebrity, saying, "The only thing I need as of right now is space...Space means no more 'Free Earl.'" When asked when he was to return home, he said "I don't have any definite date, though. Even if I did,I don't know if I'd tell you. You'll hear from me without a doubt when I'm ready."
The fascination, it would seem, with Odd Future is at an all-time high with these recent Earl Sweatshirt developments. There is no one movement in music -- not just hip hop -- as intriguing and polarizing as Odd Future. The group has made their name on the talents of their fearless leader -- Tyler, The Creator -- and his rather stark, misogynistic lyrics. Mind you, these lyrics were so succinctly described as "arty, emo rape fantasies" by none other than The New York Times. Now The New Yorker has stepped in, offering their piece to the puzzle that is Earl Sweatshirt. It's one thing if the local alt-weekly with a modest circulation, ahem, has a budding fascination with a band known for controversy and intrigue -- it's an entirely different thing when the fucking New York Times and The New Yorker start running featured articles on the same band.
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If this exposure from the upcoming New Yorker piece helps Sweatshirt make his way back to Odd Future, then we're all the beneficiaries. Sweatshirt's talent is frighteningly immeasurable, especially given that he's merely 17 years-old. All this success and controversy is a hell of a lot to handle at such a young age, so it seems Sweatshirt's temporary departure from the limelight was, perhaps, for the best.
We get it now, Earl Sweatshirt. Once you return, we promise to drop all the "Free Earl" nonsense.
Read the abstract for Kelefa Sanneh's article "Where's Earl" here. Nicholas Thompson has also posted more information about the article on The New Yorker's News Desk blog. The article will appear in the May 23 edition of The New Yorker.
Earl Sweatshirt's album Earl is freely available for download via Odd Future's tubmlr.