By Steven Roberts
Odd Future’s ascension from a group of like-minded, immensely creative kids in front of Supreme on North Fairfax to the darlings of the underground/internet to selling out shows from San Fran to New York to London has been nothing short of remarkable. But a prominent storyline in their sharp rise has been the absence of one of their members, Earl Sweatshirt.
In April, Complex Magazine located Earl Sweatshirt, real name Thebe Kogsitsile, at the Coral Reef Academy in Samoa via a series of Facebook postings, blog postings and analyzing song lyrics. After they initially denied it, a few members of OF admitted it that Earl was indeed at the academy. This morning it looks like the New Yorker’s Kelefa Sannah took the next step in uncovering Earl Sweatshirt.
Sannah talked to Sweatshirt’s mother, who asked that her name be omitted to avoid harassment, his father, esteem South African poet Keorapetse Kogsitsile, and of course Earl Sweatshirt himself via email. Earl denied that he had been held against his will. Instead he said the months leading up to his departure were a mess, and he needed time away.
When asked about the “Free Earl” campaign that started in his absence, he said at first he thought that his fans really care, but he has grown hesitant of the chants as the fan base grows and his mother’s safety comes into question.
“Initially I was really pleased that all these people claimed 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 ’… 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 … I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom.’
Earl said all that he needed was his space, which ultimately meant no more “Free Earl.”
“If you sincerely care then I appreciate the gesture, but since you know the hard facts from the source you no longer need to worry. I miss home. 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.”