Over the last 10 years, Earl Sweatshirt has built himself a cult-like fanbase who is always checking for his new music. The most impressive part about Earl’s ability to maintain his fanbase’s interest is how effortless it seems to him. You will never catch Earl doing “industry shit” just for the sake of being seen. He doesn’t do collabs “for the look,” and you’ll rarely see him outside of the studio.
Which is why it came as such a pleasant surprise to his fans in Los Angeles when they saw Earl pop out at the GOLF store in Los Angeles Saturday (August, 19). The in-store merch drop presented by WMX was announced by Earl and Tyler, the Creator via Instagram less than 24-hours prior, but with Odd Future’s fandom, the line was down the block.
Wearing a hat that stood almost a foot above his head and a constant smile on his face, Earl shook hands with fans, signed merch and reflected about the impact of his debut project. Earl even stepped into the parking lot for a surprise DJ set while fans clamored to get a picture with the rarely seen rap star.
Earl’s fan base is as diverse as his catalogue. We went down a line of hundreds of Odd Future fans to ask what their favorite Earl song was, and unlike some rappers who have unanimous two or three favorites, there was no song that stood above the rest for his fans. From early mixtape cuts to interludes, Earl’s entire catalogue means something special to each person who listens.
As I sat in the GOLF store and watched Earl interact with his fans while dancing to Future (which he played off of the store’s iPhone aux chord), it was clear that fame has done nothing to change the 29-year-old rapper. I initially approached Earl with a camera and microphone outside of the store, where we were shooting content, but quickly learned that the commotion is not something he thrives in. Instead, we put the camera and mic down in substitute for an iPhone while conversing about his journey in music over the past decade.
On the standout single “Chum” from his debut album Doris, Earl raps: “harder than immigrants work// “GOLF” is stitched into my shirt.”
With a new merch drop at the GOLF store a decade after those bars were released, it seems like not much has changed for Earl. When I asked him about if he was thinking ten years into the future while writing those lyrics, he replied humbly by reminding me he was simply living in the moment.
“I was being very present. I wasn’t looking forward.”
I asked whether or not he takes time to reflect on how far he’s come in order to appreciate the journey.
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) August 23, 2023
“Yeah. I think you’ve got to be kind of out of it and not in the center of it to truly know what was happening. So I think the more time goes on, the more steps you climb up the latter. Then you look back and go ‘oh shit’”
In terms of moments that shock him, working with legends like Mos Def and Alchemist have become semi-regular over the course of his decade long run.
“With Yasiin, that’s like familial.”
When I asked about what advice he would have for an artist who just dropped their debut album, the same place he was at ten years prior, I was honestly expecting a cliché answer. Out of all of the unique questions I try to bring to the table, this was one of my more generic ones. But while Earl’s answer was short and to the point, it was extremely powerful.
“The ride doesn’t stop, but it’s your perspective that changes.”
While perspective may have changed when it comes to Earl’s debut album, one consensus remains, the music is just as powerful.
Speaking of new music, Earl had sprinkled QR codes throughout the event on T-shirt tags and the Ice Cream bar’s menu. The scanned code lead many fans to believe that new music was on the way, although nothing was confirmed at the time. As of today (Friday, August 25), theories were proved correct as music fans were blessed with a new Earl x Alchemist project.
But the most important answer received that day was when I asked Earl about one of his most memorable bars from “Chum.” While non-coincidentally wearing a Vince Carter t-shirt, I asked if he ever met the Slam Dunk Champion after referencing him in his lyrics.
“His sins feeling as hard as Vince Carter’s knee cartilage is”
A simple “no” ended my ongoing curiosity about the subject.
While the Doris anniversary merch may have been exclusive to the GOLF store event, there is a new merch drop available exclusively on his website.