A large part of the success of OFWGKTA has been the mystery surrounding Earl Sweatshirt spawned by the “Free Earl” slogan. The Odd Future member has been conspicuous by his absence, often mentioned in Tyler, the Creator’s rhymes. An attempt by Complex.com to locate Earl was angrily shot down by Tyler, although the teen emcee is indeed in Samoa.
A lengthy 8,000 word article by Kelefa Sanneh in the May issue of The New Yorker produces the first words from both Earl and his mother on the matter of him not being around for the current ascension of Odd Future. Sanneh uncovers that Earl is the son of renowned South African poet and political activist Keorapetse Kgositsile. It is also revealed that Earl was not included in Odd Future’s recent Sony deal. MellowHype’s song “Chordaroy” will also be absent from the Fat Possum reissue of BlackAndWhite because the label doesn’t have rights to use Earl’s vocals.
Perhaps the most revealing part of the interview is that Earl wants fans to put a stop to the “Free Earl” slogan that has become so popular.
“I have trouble wrapping my head around things like OF being on the Coachella ticket or there being a more-than-substantial international fan base because you can’t really experience things like that to the fullest extent vicariously, no matter how hard you try,” Earl wrote.
Earl also co-signed his mother’s statement that he wasn’t jettisoned off to Samoa against his will. She said she “was worried about the uncertain effects of sudden stardom” and that the “Free Earl” slogan paints her as a villain.
“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,’” Earl added. He couldn’t give an exact date when he would again be stateside. Of course, Earl also said that even if he did know when he would be back, he probably wouldn’t tell a journalist.
A preview of “Where’s Earl?” is available at The New Yorker’s official site. The full version is only available via the magazine’s paid digital service or via iPad.
UPDATE: After Earl’s statement appeared in The New Yorker, Odd Future representative Heathcliff Berru is questioning its authenticity. He explained that there was no way of knowing if the statement came directly from Earl, and that his mother could have made the statement on his behalf.
“With them on tour [Odd Future] don’t want to talk about it,” he told XXLMag.com. “But it makes me wonder if that was Earl speaking or his mother speaking on his behalf. [New Yorker scribe] Kelefa [Sanneh] never technically had direct communication with Earl. All I know is that doesn’t sound like Earl. My only thought is for his safe return.”
UPDATE #2: Complex.com gives an update on the New Yorker piece, speaking with a student named Tyler Craven who attended the same school where Earl currently matriculates. The publication states that Craven said that “Earl probably did write what was published, but that it was heavily influenced by therapists at the academy who need to see positive behavior if he wants to graduate.” Read the full story here.