Kelefa Sanneh Has Found Earl Sweatshirt, Who Would Like You To Lay Off His Mom


The new New Yorker contains Yet Another Story On Odd Future, although Kelefa Sanneh’s piece outstrips its many bibliographic counterparts thanks to its particular focus on the LA hip-hop collective’s most sloganeered member, Earl Sweatshirt. The 8,000-word piece, which took nine months of gestation and research to complete (oh, those media outlets that don’t work on blog time!), contains interviews with Earl’s father (the South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile), mother (who does not want to be identified) and the M.I.A. rapper, real name Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, himself.

Sanneh was put in touch with Earl via e-mail thanks to his mother, who noted that the “Free Earl” movement might be a bit misguided, given that her son’s current identities as Thebe and as Earl might both be requiring of space to grow, as opposed to one outstripping the other.

Earl writes from a place where he says he is “more comfortable” with himself:

“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.” I can say there have been few things in my life worse than the moment I was trying to figure out who started all this “let’s all get together and hate Earl’s mom” business and had now subjected her to potential physical harm and realized that in a way it was me.

He then says that he needs “space,” which “means no more ‘Free Earl'”–but that the cessation of the slogan doesn’t mean that he’s gone, but that he’ll “come back when he’s ready.”

(There’s also a note about when the group obtained its “well-connected managers” who have toiled in the Interscope salt mines for a while: last summer. The moral of their fast rise to success: It sure helps to know people! Especially when those people “aren’t always able to restrain themselves from invoking Nirvana when discussing their clients,” which, oh, have I got some Incesticide liner notes to show them.)